How can I activate?
September 12, 2016 12:40 PM   Subscribe

The USA election has been distracting me to the point I can hardly function. I've never been an activist, or even active politically, but I feel I need to become more active or share some responsibility for the election's outcome. Problem: I really don't have time, I don't have experience, and I don't want the comments section to find me.

Where can I find resource that provide suggestions for the most effective, most time-efficient ways to make a difference? Or at least, the best ways to call out unbalanced news reports? I thought about writing physical letters to news editors, but would it even make a difference?

To be honest, I wish it were possible to have meaningful and considered discussions with people instead of lobbing incendiary hashtags at each other, but that's become impossible given the available communication channels and the current climate. My one voice is not likely to make a difference online, and so I feel the time would be better spent doing something else.

I'm not willing to go to rallies, or do other physical things. I also want anonymity, at least online, because some people give me the impression that they very well might hold a grudge.

And I'm seriously drowning in work and already lack free time, so I really have zero time and shouldn't let this be such a distraction, but ... I can't take it anymore. It's to the point where I'm actually waking up in the middle of night, anxious about what will happen to our society if one side in particular gets empowered even more than it already has.
posted by StrawberryPie to Society & Culture (8 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Donate to candidates/PACs/community organizations that support your point(s) of view. That will allow them to pay consultants and ad agencies and marketers and various other people who are trained to communicate with and persuade the public writ large.

There's lots of effective stuff you could do on a local level but that involves time and physical presence and emotional energy and lots of stuff that plenty of us don't have enough of to spare at the best of times.

Donate, keep yourself informed, and stay out of political conversations except to encourage those you know to exercise their right to vote (however they see fit).
posted by sparklemotion at 12:47 PM on September 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


It's to the point where I'm actually waking up in the middle of night, anxious about what will happen to our society if one side in particular gets empowered even more than it already has.

This probably is not a really rational or healthy level of worry, no matter what your politics. Make sure to put your health and self-care above the specter of wedge issues.
posted by so fucking future at 1:14 PM on September 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


Phone banking from home is so, so easy, and pressure-free; you could dial 5 calls a day in 5-10 minutes (most people don't pick up). You can download the Sideline app for a "burner" phone number that won't ring back to your actual phone number.

I thought about writing physical letters to news editors, but would it even make a difference? = Absolutely! Local campaigns can offer talking points if you need help writing such letters.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:14 PM on September 12, 2016 [8 favorites]


Donate to campaigns or community organizations, and if you really want to be a Friend of A Local Campaign Office, send them food. Order them pizza, stop by with donuts and coffee and run out the door again. The people working on campaigns are either volunteers, interns or not very well paid staffers and they are working 12 hour days, 7 days a week. They love free food, I have it on high authority.
posted by soren_lorensen at 1:15 PM on September 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


Donate money. That's exactly what I'm doing. I was also up at 2:30 AM worried about this in the last week. I figured out how much I could afford, and then I donated way more than that. If it all goes to crap, at least I did what I could.
posted by cnc at 4:00 PM on September 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


To offer a counterpoint to the other suggestions, have you thought about unplugging from the media echo chamber machine?

I say this because you ask specifically about "the best ways to call out unbalanced news reports," and whether letters to the editor make a difference. We know that stories are driven by their capacity to be shared widely, thereby ensuring some fraction of readers/skimmers will click the ads that keep the lights on at whichever outlet is doing the publishing.

Letters to the editor are great things, but they do not influence the tides of reportage at large.

My fatigue led me to delete Facebook from my phone, unfollow everyone on Twitter except for comedians and musicians, and block just about every media-ish site from my work computer's browser. I've stuck with the cheapest online NYT subscription and my hometown's free press rag for sources of information. I read the Federal Register for work, and still get a lot of policy information from specialized trade press and meetings.

It's something to consider: respond to the overload with a recognition that your aspirations are noble but impotent (unless you're a celebrity or otherwise wield some kind of public presence), prune your inputs accordingly, deny ad revenue to the bad actors responsible for the mess.

(Fun side effect: when you meet people at a bar and something comes up like whatever this basket of deplorables (?) stuff was, and you have no idea what they're talking about, after people stop looking at you like you're from the moon they'll probably acknowledge that, yes, maybe it's good to not keep up with the garbage minutiae.)

[Edited to clarify: there are lots of ways to have an impact, but trying to influence the media might not be the best one of them.]
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 5:21 PM on September 12, 2016 [2 favorites]




Outstanding suggestions, mefites! I'm so glad I asked.

On this: This probably is not a really rational or healthy level of worry, no matter what your politics. Yeah, I know and I agree. Normally it wouldn't be like this. The problem this time is it hits multiple issues—part personal history, part personality makeup.

You see, I am an immigrant from a European country invaded by Russia some decades ago. I know, first-hand, what it's like to live in a country ruled by people like Putin. When a certain candidate in our elections this year began praising Putin, and his supporters didn't react, I was incredulous. That's when alarms went off. That's I went from merely feeling disgust at the candidate and his supporters, to feeling dread.
posted by StrawberryPie at 11:46 AM on September 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


« Older Beating Imposter Syndrome   |   Help me find an extremely tiny hat Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.