I have a love/hate relationship with political news. I want to be informed about what is going on in the United States and the world. I try to read as broadly as I can, getting my news from various sources and viewpoints. That used to be a sound strategy and one could develop a reasoned and intelligent perspective on a great many things. Sadly, most of the sources and viewpoints that are available to us today are hopelessly biased, leaning right or left on the political spectrum. It can make for a very frustrating, even maddening experience.
A possible solution…
My solution to this is simple: Mute it. Take a break from all the political noise. Change the channel, un-follow the Twitter accounts, ignore all the sound and fury. I realize many of our readers are already long-time practitioners of this philosophy. You are to be commended for preserving your sanity. For the rest of us who seem to thrive on feeding our minds and hearts with the latest from the political clown show, this advice seems more important than ever.
A few distinctions
I want to be clear about a few things. I think being informed and educated on the issues is important. We cannot simply close our eyes and hope for the best. There is also a deeper conversation about the role of a believer in national politics, one I don’t care to address today. (Yes, I am taking the coward’s way out on that one.) But, it’s clear that what many of us are taking part in online goes way beyond simply being (or staying) informed. As for me, I am not scrolling through my Twitter feed, scanning through Facebook, or watching and listening to the news to be better informed. No. I am doing those things to revel in my “righteous” indignation or to celebrate my side’s victories.
Moment of truth
It all changed for me a few months ago when I realized I had a problem. I would get home, hop on Twitter and feel all those strong and decidedly unhealthy emotions flowing through my veins. It felt good to be enraged. It felt great when my opinions won the day. Yet, deep down, I felt sick. I knew I was feeding my soul poorly and that had to change. So, I purged my twitter account of almost all political accounts. I cleaned up my Facebook page to avoid as many of my more extreme friends – people on both sides of the political spectrum. And you know what? It did a world of good. Instead of coming home, tired and worn down by my day at work, and adding more stress to my life, I now do my best to fill my time with other things.
I am not perfect in this area. Not even close. I still find myself straining to hear all those voices – to listen to the noise and chaos. But, my small steps seem to have helped. I hope to do more in the coming weeks and months as politics will only increase its volume as the election looms. Perhaps this is something that you should try as well.
Trade “this” for “that”
Mute politics for a month. Avoid the Rachel Maddow’s and Sean Hannity’s for the month of February. Turn down the volume on Ben Shapiro and Chris Matthews. Ignore Fox News and the Washington Post for the time being. Trust me, it will make a difference if you struggle in this area. And based on what I see online, there are many of us who struggle.
Instead of listening to those voices, do some other stuff. Read more – fiction, non-fiction, and Scripture. Listen to music. Take more walks. Play games with your family. Hug your kids. Love your spouse. Volunteer. Pick up a hobby. Fuel your soul with good and healthy things. Focus on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, and worthy of praise. Those things will last. They will pull you away from the coarse and ugly world of politics and closer to the eternal and sacred.
So take it from me, one often-failing yet recovering political junkie: Take a break. It will be good for your soul and your mental well-being.