Off the top of your head, how many different news sources do you read on a daily basis to keep up with current events? And how much of the constitution can you quote by heart to be able to check the accuracy of the news that is being reported?
Oh, what’s that you say?
You don’t have time to do that because your plate is already over full with virtual learning and meal planning and washing the huge piles of laundry that you swear is half clean but your kid thought it easier to put their clothes in the laundry basket instead of putting it in their drawers? How odd. I thought for sure you would spend the 49 seconds of free time that you get every day reading news from several different outlets so as to get a fair and balanced view so that when the people who have maybe slightly more time than you do ask, “Can you believe what that Representative from Louisiana said about…”
I am kidding of course. As much as I’d love to have the free time to keep myself fully informed on the state of this country, especially ahead of elections, there’s just not enough time in the day, week, month, or year. But this last election, when it really counted, when suburban moms were an actual voting group that candidates were vying over, I needed to be informed. It, in fact, stressed me out that I wasn’t informed. And, to be honest, I was tired of feeling almost powerless and blind when the more connected people in my life would talk to me like I knew what was going on.
I felt like I disagreed with some of the things they were saying, but I couldn’t articulate exactly why. Some of the things sounded more like opinion than fact, not necessarily rooted in truth, but I didn’t have the time or resources to engage with someone on it. I can honestly say that it did affect how I felt about myself; it impacted how I felt about my very real job as a stay-at-home mom.
Yes, I’m an all-day mom to four youngish children who need so many things all of the time – but I am not brainless, and my thoughts and opinions on things are valid (and so are yours!). However, when you don’t understand exactly all of the moving parts in a political powerplay or don’t know the constitution of the United States well enough to say, “What you’re saying isn’t true,” you’re stuck taking the word of those around you for face value, even if you don’t fully believe it.
More than once I would catch just a blip of some current hot topic on my social media feed and when I expressed my opinion out loud on it, I would be met with a knowing, “Now now, if you understood the way this really worked, you would see why this is best for you.” You know, kind of in one of those shut-up-and-color sort of ways.
I needed a way to get just the facts of current events from as unbiased of a source as possible.
I needed someone who wouldn’t talk down, but also would put things in normal, everyday terms. I wondered if that was even possible, and had more or less resigned myself to the fact that I would re-engage my brain in the world around me when my kids were quite a bit older. Then one day, someone recommended a social media account to me – SharonSaysSo.
I clicked over, ready to witness someone clearly leaning to the left or right of current events. Everyone has a bias, and usually, they aren’t great at hiding it. Instead, the first thing I saw in her stories was a picture of a humpback whale. Certain I’d gotten the link wrong, I went back and checked to make sure I’d followed the right link. Yes, this was it. I went back and started watching stories again, after all, she had probably 30 of them in the last 24 hours alone. As I clicked through, I immediately was hooked. It was exactly what I needed AND had space for in my life – 15 second little bursts that would improve my world view more than the entertainment gossip blurbs I usually watched.
I started watching her stories daily and slowly, the confidence started building up to begin thoughtful discussions with both those I agreed with and maybe more importantly, those I disagreed with. The purpose wasn’t to listen and respond; it was to listen to understand where someone else was coming from. Before, I was being talked at by people who had more time than I to keep up. It wasn’t their fault, necessarily, that I felt like a child being told how I should feel, but now I had the ability to disagree as an informed party.
Now I am not telling you to get out there and follow the same account I do right away, but I do want to encourage you to have the power to be informed, even when you’re so busy the idea of keeping up on current politics sounds absolutely overwhelming. Instead of following a news outlet, find someone who gives you facts without opinion. Don’t seek out your news in an echo chamber of what you already believe; instead, look for an outlet that either offers no bias (as much as possible) or differing viewpoints all in one place (like AllSidesNow, another valuable resource that shows you the headlines from a left-leaning news site, a centered site, and a right-leaning news site so you can compare).
There are barely enough minutes in the day right now to do the bare minimum of what life demands. I get it. But if I can take small steps to keep myself informed of what is going on in the world outside my home, maybe I can help influence the way it is shaping for not just my kids, but for me as well.