Hey, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to talk election today. In fact, I’m hoping to skip out on relevant news entirely until later this week, or at least as much as I can without cutting myself off from the world entirely. There are going to be an awful lot of people trying to put their opinions and spin out about the results, even though from a practical perspective, we won’t know for for a while yet exactly what’s going to be able to affect our everyday lives. The fear and uncertainty can produce a lot of anxiety; it’s totally understandable that you might either want to stick your head in the ground for a while, or glue yourself to the news and get every single update as soon as possible. Both of those are normal reactions to this sort of situation. And both of those are okay.
If you want to get off social media and the rest of the Internet today, shoo! Go away! Come back later! While I often preach the importance of staying up to date on the news, if only to be able to track and learn from events for your own safety, you can delay and control your consumption of it to protect your mental health. You are allowed to snooze or unfollow a friend who can’t stop posting about politics. You are allowed to tell the people around you that you don’t want to hear about it for a bit. In the meantime, maybe you’ll get the high points from someone you trust to be calm and measured, or limit yourself to a single news source. After the dust settles, you can catch back up in a less frantic manner. Waiting for the excitement to end means that you’ll still hear the end results, with more of the facts available, than hearing from people trying to fill the gaps by guessing. And there’s a truth to the idea that you don’t need to know every detail of every thing. Focus on the parts that will affect your life most directly, and you can let the rest go. Just remember that you still have to know those parts and can’t let everything go.
If you’re the type of person who wants to know everything as soon as it’s known or maybe-known, then there will certainly be plenty of material for you today. You, too, might want to focus on what you’re looking at though. Take some breaks so that you can evaluate how clicking refresh over and over is affecting your mood and attitude. Consider carefully the possibility that the hit of hearing about something right away doesn’t outweigh the crash of learning that it was wrong five minutes later. Maybe you’re truly enjoying surfing those waves, and that’s what excites you about the day. But maybe it’s ultimately feeding that anxiety that is making you sick to your stomach as you fear every new tweet that shows up in your feed or that anger that is making you argue nastily in the comments with someone who is definitely wrong. It could be that the debate is interesting to you and the intellectual exchange invigorating, and not simply an excuse for trading insults. Be honest with yourself: which is it? If being fully informed, even knowing that your sources might be trying to rile you up or that they might be wrong in the moment, is important to you, then do so. Just be careful about how it’s affecting you and your relationships with the people around you.
And above all, make some time today to look at some cute animal pictures. Surely, we can all agree on that?