Moving Forward After a Contentious Election Year (and Really Anytime)
“Facebook is a source of news for a majority of American adults, but in the vitriol and propaganda of the 2016 election, its proverbial public square for many users has devolved into a never-ending Thanksgiving-dinner debate—or an omnipresent Speaker’s Corner.”—excerpt from “Post-Election, Overwhelmed Facebook Users Unfriend, Cut Back” at npr.org (November 20, 2016)
This fractious election year did me some good: I got rid of my TV and limited my news reading to a range of professional sources that do not run salacious stories for the sake of ratings. I also scaled back social media, emphasizing only professional engagement. Although aware of the outward world, I turned inward, which proved enlightening.
These 10 steps moved me forward:
- Vowing to subscribe to Shane Snow’s boiled-down version of journalism’s code of ethics: “a) seek the truth as fully as possible; b) act independently; c) seek to minimize harm and behave responsibly; and d) be accountable”
- Disengaging from political “discourse” on social platforms
- Engaging a mindfulness coach
- Strolling daily through a garden
- Sitting quietly at dawn with my fingers tuned to the happy hum of my cat’s throat
- Renewing my daily yoga practice
- Uninviting angry people from my life
- Flowing with Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching day into night (see below)
- Reaching for God by remembering those who lived by “doing the right thing”
- Reflecting on Albert Camus’ wisdom: “. . . there is no true goodness or fine love without the greatest possible degree of clear-sightedness.”
Our battered Republic will survive yet. I shudder to think of the social media storms that would have shaken the nation had Jefferson, Adams, and their supporters accessed the Internet. Yes, these “righteous” founding fathers ushered in negative campaigning, and it has stuck ever since, as noted in Mental Floss several years ago. The only delight would have amounted to scrolling through urbane tweets by creatures from the Age of Reason, not the Era of Self-Aggrandizement. (We can thank Abigail Adams for reaching out to Jefferson years later, which renewed a brilliant correspondence between these profound, yet flawed politicians.)
Side note: had Benjamin Franklin grabbed hold of the Internet, he would have monetized the greatest blog ever.
Catherine Hamrick, a university communications manager, blogs at Random Storyteller.