I’ll admit, I was drawn into Rachel Maddow’s hype the other day too. I turned on MSNBC in the car as I drove to meet a friend for dinner and I just had to turn it on.
Honestly, I expected her “We have Trump’s tax returns” tweet to be much ado about nothing. If there was REALLY a bombshell, I just don’t see them announcing it that way, turning it into a big show. And when she spent the first half hour drawing it out and talking around the issue? I was pretty darned sure. Then , when she finally got to the point, it was confirmed. They had nothing.
Twitter was of two minds on this, like they seem to be on everything. Like the country is on everything.
One camp made fun of Maddow for turning this into a spectacle. One of my friends (who is NOT a Trump fan AT ALL) expressed his frustrated, but accurate, observation. This really derails the argument that Trump is hiding something.
Of course, the other side has been saying, “This is just the beginning!” Because they’re sure they’re going to get him eventually. They hail Rachel Maddow as a hero for having the courage to go forward with it, even if there wasn’t much to show.
It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of Trump. I didn’t vote for him. I’m on the fence about his job performance so far. My personal opinion is that he’s done some pretty good things and some pretty dumb things. But I’m going to hold off on saying whether I believe he’s done anything actually damaging to the country yet.
As I’ve been listening to my concerned and angry friends and neighbors, it conjures up a lot of familiar feelings. Feelings I had many times during the Obama Administration.
And I know what you’re thinking. This is TOTALLY different because Obama was awesome and Trump is the worst.
You see it that way. But a lot of us didn’t.
I’m not going to get into all the ins and outs of the major problems I had with Obama. All the ways I think the Obama Administration got it wrong. Just like I’m not going to defend any of the things Trump has done.
What I AM going to do is tell you that things are going to be okay. Sometimes you think it won’t be. Sometimes it feels like it won’t be okay at all. But it will.
With that, here are 4 tips I have for how you can get through these next four years.
Take a breath.
All day long, every single day, there is one news story after another that feels like doomsday is upon us. The tweets and the Facebook news stories and all of it is terrible.
Step back. Take a breath and calm down a bit before reacting. Because 99.9% of the things you hear about are going to end up being not true, or at least they’ll end up not happening. It’s unhealthy to get all worked up over nothing. And yes, most of the time it turns out to be nothing. So breathe. Relax a minute. Try to avoid commenting or sharing things in the heat of the moment.
And sometimes, taking a breath means turning off the news, muting certain keywords (or accounts) on Twitter, and going for a pedicure.
Do a little research.
If something seems ridiculous, do a little bit of research before assuming it’s true. Or false. Give it a minute. Think about things. And then do some research. If one news outlet reports something that sounds crazy, check and see what the others are saying. It’s especially a good idea to check what the “opposite” station is reporting. So if you hear something on CNN, flip over to Fox News and see how they are (or aren’t) reporting the story. If they match up, you know it’s probably true. And if they don’t match up, then you need to start going to other sources. Look at multiple sites. Go to original sources when possible.
The biggest thing to remember in this day and age is that The News is a business. They don’t always report actual news. They report rumors and opinions and unsubstantiated claims as if it were true. Pay attention to how often you hear an “expert” say it “could be” or “might be” and not get questioned on that. Because it’s an expert, the reporter or anchor or commentator frequently leaves it at that. This is what’s causing so many problems.
Don’t assume everything means something.
The biggest problem I’ve seen, particularly on Twitter, is the way people jump all over every little thing that is said or done. People read into everything and make wild assumptions. We can’t assume everything means something because it will drive us CRAZY. In these days of 24 hour news cycles, there really isn’t that much to report. So they spend hours and hours talking about the same things, which makes it seem like these issues are much bigger and more imminent than they are.
And a lot of the things that come up in interviews, in press conferences and releases, etc, are just thoughts. They aren’t what’s actually going to happen. How often do you hear about a bill being proposed to Congress that actually passes exactly as it was proposed? Basically never.
We also need to avoid ascribing our beliefs to others. Just because someone says something, it doesn’t do any good to assume we understand all the ins and outs of why they have said that, or why they think it.
A lot of the things that come out are either just talk, or they get misconstrued, or people aren’t making their points as succinctly as they mean to.
Pick your battles.
It’s natural to want to care about everything, but it’s just not possible. You’ve got to choose which issues to pay attention to and to care about, and which you’ll just let go. Care about something, sure. Care about several things. But you just can’t worry about everything. You’ll make yourself sick and crazy. So choose the things that are most important to you. Not necessarily to yourself personally, because it’s good to support and help one another. Just pick which issues you’re going to focus on and let everything else go. And then really let it go.
One more thought.
Here’s the thing. We do need to be vigilant and keep our elected officials in check. All of them. But we also need to calm down and remember that WE are in control, if only we’ll TAKE control. There is power in the right to vote. We have to get out of this mindset that “my vote doesn’t matter.” They do matter. Every vote does matter. And the sooner we start remembering that, the better off we’ll be. The only reason it feels like our President or Congress is headed toward authoritarianism is literally because we don’t stop them. So get involved. Get informed. And then when something is happening, call your congressman and tell him or her how you feel.
Basically, it comes down to this. Don’t panic. Don’t freak out. Get informed, get involved, and do something.
But seriously. Everything is going to be okay.