How can I be alerted about impending bad trends without reading news?
November 27, 2016 4:05 PM   Subscribe

I can no longer handle seeing the continued awfulness and non-stop lying by the president elect. But somehow, I have stay aware of trends that might impact my family and me. How can this be done indirectly?

I already deleted my Facebook account (which I didn't use before anyway). I think I have to quit Twitter because my colleagues tweet or forward tweets about current events, and those (like today's gem) often make me angry or depressed. I already avoid all news sites.

I know it's ridiculous, and it leaves me in a bubble, and I'm ashamed of it. But I'm also too unproductive otherwise, and right now I have to get work done. I can rely on my wife finding out about things that might affect us, but she's also trying to disengage and focus on work, and anyway it would be unfair to her. We're in a privileged demographic in a very blue state, and apart from me being a (white, male) resident alien (so things involving immigration and citizenship), we know we shouldn't fear direct effects. We know we are extremely lucky. And yet, I don't feel comfortable, and want to catch early warning signs of general trouble.

What are your strategies for staying disengaged but monitoring for signs of negative trends, such as indicators of impending significant economic downturns, mandatory registration of immigrants, curbing freedom of press, civil unrest, etc.?
posted by StrawberryPie to Law & Government (12 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Read a print newspaper or magazine? Slightly bigger-picture perspective without obsessing over every tweet. NYT, Washington Post, or maybe the Economist if you want to go weekly rather than daily.
posted by Mid at 4:18 PM on November 27, 2016 [10 favorites]

Were I in your shoes, I'd ask a close friend or relative to be your filter. "Hey could you let me know if something happens that I really really need to pay attention to?" And hopefully they never say anything until November 2020, when Kamala Harris beats Donald Trump.
posted by incessant at 4:30 PM on November 27, 2016 [5 favorites]

I have the Buzzfeed News app on my phone and set it to "Allow Alerts" but in settings (gear icon) you can click "Customize Alerts" and set it to only show "Need to Know" - which is described as "The most up-to-date, important, and trending stories." I've found them to be good about not abusing this. For example, I got Castro's death, the last Japan Tsunami warning, and Trump winning the election.
posted by bluecore at 5:36 PM on November 27, 2016 [6 favorites]

I use my RSS reader to skim headlines, and then if I want more information I can click through or seek more info elsewhere. I have found that Raw Story has the best balance of headlines, if not reporting. If I want to raise my blood pressure I'll check the more political feeds like TPM, etc.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:13 PM on November 27, 2016

I read NYer Today and Slate if I'm finding minute by minute news too effing much. Which is mostly. I always feel like they've had the WTF response for me and then analysed it which makes it more bearable. I also have an informal Committee of the Sane composed of trusted family and friends who will warn me if things are too bad.
posted by firstdrop at 6:21 PM on November 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have the Buzzfeed News app on my phone and set it to "Allow Alerts" but in settings (gear icon) you can click "Customize Alerts" and set it to only show "Need to Know" - which is described as "The most up-to-date, important, and trending stories." I've found them to be good about not abusing this. For example, I got Castro's death, the last Japan Tsunami warning, and Trump winning the election.

Along similar lines, via email and not an app, I'm subscribed to NPR Breaking News Alerts and I get maybe 2-5 emails per week about major deaths, Dylan winning the Nobel Prize, anything especially dramatic that happens with the markets or abroad, the cabinet appointments as they're coming in, etc. It's a perfect way to unplug without feeling irresponsible when I just. cannot. internet.
posted by blue suede stockings at 8:12 PM on November 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Just check out until January 10th or so. Enjoy the holiday, focus on work.

I think you should prepare to maybe have to leave, which is what we're doing. I mean, I would love to believe we could wait and see, but I'm assuming the cabinet picks will get approved. These are scary people who will function to pillage what's left of our economic, legal, and social stability. It's not really "if," it's very much more a "when" situation. As in, when should you leave to preserve what is left of your money and personal stability?

Decide where you'd like to go and start looking for work. No one is going to sound the alarm for you the way you think. I'm using this short window to equalize and get used to the fact that things are right now very much changing. It's so bizarre to talk to folks lately and see them just zone out when you even hint towards there being a problem. Folks just can't handle it. The media will not alert you the way you want them to.

I just re-watched the new Godzilla movie last night, and there was a part in between the Big G's stomping on Tokyo where the city just goes back to normal. It stuck out because I was recently reading about something in history that was very very similar - something happened, or something was absolutely going to happen, and instead of reacting folks tried to go about business as usual until it was too late. Damn! I wish I could remember what that was! It was definitely something in the last 100 years or less. I'm sure there about a bajillion examples of this. It's not unusual.

Feel free to entirely disengage from the media until after New Year's because there is nothing much to pay attention to. It's already happened. I'm sorry.

If there is any good analysis about how long it will take the new administration to cause significant change I will pass it along to you via memail.

Feel free to disengage entirely until about January 10th or so.
posted by jbenben at 8:21 PM on November 27, 2016 [4 favorites]

Just to be clear, you can definitely drive yourself nuts reading periodic updates. I'm assuming there will be some sort of catastrophic event that will trigger executive orders and what not that will be concerning, stuff on that level you will definitely know about.

The less fear inducing way to handle this is to have a Plan B and a Plan C in place, just get organized. Then you don't have to check in. If the worst happens, you'll be prepared to pivot.

Essentially, I live in Southern California, so I'm treating this like that big earthquake
everyone talks about. No one knows when its coming, it might not happen in our lifetime. If it does, we have supplies and a plan.

I hope that helps you. Rather than making bargains with yourself (trying to read between the lines of news stories is like trying to discern meaning from tea leaves after a while,) instead do whatever you need to do to be ready. Then put it out of your mind.
posted by jbenben at 8:41 PM on November 27, 2016

Read a foreign newspaper and skip the US section if there's one. Outside of the United States, Donald Trump has stopped being in the headlines for a while now.
posted by Kwadeng at 11:27 PM on November 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

I have heavily muted many accounts on Twitter and depend on NPR and BBC almost entirely for alerts. While I still have a Facebook account, I have "blocked" a number of friends who tend to post material I don't want to read. I have also deleted the Facebook app from my tablets, keeping it only on my phone for quick review (somehow I find it more difficult to use on the phone and tend to check it less often!)

As for news sites, I also use RSS readers to keep up-to-date with curated news from a number of sources. Since my feed is controlled by Feedly, I can use different clients on different machines and still keep current.

I agree that this is likely to be a very trying time, but I also feel like I need to keep current with the important information. I also plan on following my local and state activities more closely, since I think this is the level that many must focus on.
posted by jwt0001 at 5:39 AM on November 28, 2016

If you're a public radio listener, I can't recommend The World highly enough. Another non-T***p-centric source is the CBC's As It Happens.
One or two hours a week of either of these programs will be enough to give you the gist.

And please ditch Twitter altogether. It's an adolescent's platform, anyway.
posted by BostonTerrier at 12:28 PM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm in a similar spot with a mixed, hidden risk profile (white and male, but transgender and gay). I'm also avoiding social media and the news for awhile so I don't have a stroke. Believe me, I will have plenty of advance warning from my LGBT friends before they start sending us to camps.

Is there a community of immigrants from your country that you're involved with? Surely there is a forum or a listserv or something for your community of interest (e.g. CAIR must have a newsletter). That way you can stay on top of the things that impact you and not have to deal with the rest of it. When it comes to "omg get an immigration lawyer now" time, you'll be forewarned.

My state (Wisconsin) lets you set up an alert for any legislative activity pertaining to certain interest keywords (e.g. LGBT, environmental policy). You could do the same thing with Google alerts, although you'd have to play around with the search criteria for awhile until you stop getting a bunch of random crap.

I just wouldn't bother with Japanese tsunamis and celebrity deaths and school shootings. They're tragic but there's nothing you can do and it's just going to cause you more stress. You will find out about the really important stuff, trust me. I found out about 9/11 from someone in a gym shower; I didn't even own a TV at the time.
posted by AFABulous at 1:45 PM on November 28, 2016

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