How to stay informed and stay sane minggu ni?
Suffice to say, this has been a rather heavy week of discourse, nationally and internationally.
A quick scroll on my Twitter would reveal conversation after conversation on the ongoing BLM movement in America, the ethics behind rioting, coronavirus updates, the discrimination towards dark-skinned individuals in Malaysia, exploring non-Bumiputera entry to public universities, migrant rights, drunk-driving cases, among others.
As the days go by, I grew more unsure in managing my media consumption and creation.
What is the balance between staying informed of all these important information and managing my media consumption for the sake of my mental health? Is there a space amidst all these serious issues for me to bring some levity and share good news, or would that be disrespectful considering the real threat happening in the world?
If I am taking time to learn about this one cause first, would it be ignorant of me to not pay more attention to the other causes equally? What if I can’t do any of this at all? Am I allowed to advocate about these causes if I am not an expect matter or the perfect ally?
I suspect that you too feel the gravity of this moment in history – and therefore, you understand the very real learning moment happening right before us.
But at the same time, there are only so many blog posts, articles and CTAs that we can engage in, in a day.
Read this, sign this, donate here.
And still, it does not feel enough because every day there are new developments and additions to these conversations, understandably.
So then, how? How do we ensure we stay informed yet set boundaries for our mental health as well?
Let me get some shorter points out of the way first:
- Yes, it is alright to limit your media consumption. I personally only read the news in the morning and have 3-4 short pockets of social media scrolling throughout the daytime. Nothing more than that and especially not at night. Do what feels right for your mental health, first and foremost!
- Yes, you can share good news and engage in nice content. Levity and joy still exist, even during moments of sadness and tragedy. As humans, it is only natural that we crave positive and happy content. (Though I personally prefer to do it a bit more subtly right now, in respect to what is happening in the world)
- Yes, you can still share even if you are not the perfect ally. You have the ability to grow and educate yourself + your community in these issues. These are important conversations to have so please do continue to use your voice and amplify the causes that matter!
How I compartmentalise
So this is what I really want to talk about.
As someone in the NGO line, I am privy to these conversations all the time. Everyone in this social sector has very worthwhile causes that need resources at all times, yet I myself cannot possibly entertain all.
As a coping mechanism, I had to personally compartmentalize what spaces to be in and how. Basically, I chose a few causes only to focus most of my advocacy on, and the others to learn from. Perhaps this strategy would be useful to you too this week as you navigate all the different movements happening nationally and internationally.
Allow me to share my experience for added context (P.S-I apologise if this sounds like I am making this about me, I am merely trying to illustrate how I myself navigate these feelings):
In the context of Malaysia, I decided that I will focus my advocacy efforts on three things: Mental health, education/children and media plurality. These three things are causes that I actively work/participate in and create content for.
I am however insecure about my knowledge about politics in Malaysia, though I am striving to learn more about it. I myself rarely add my personal take on this issue, however, I do spend every morning reading up the news about political development in Malaysia to keep myself informed. This is a bit more passive participation on my part but I am happy to just listen and absorb right now.
This past week, this is what I have been applying when learning more about BLM and race discourse in America. The extent of my participation is reading up/watching whatever resource that pops up on the matter + sharing meaningful content that I believe would resonate with my followers. I know there is always more that I could do, but I reserve the rest of my time and energy to advance my three focus causes instead, and that is okay by me.
Stay attuned to your capacity
Despite all this, I still sometimes feel guilty that I don’t know more or have yet to do more, eg. about environmentalism, human trafficking, gender discrimination, the plight of the Orang Asli, etc, all of which are very urgent issues!
The fact remains though that as humans, we have limited resources and only that many hours in a day. Sometimes, in our capacities as average citizens, that is all we can do – to just listen, seek to understand, share these resources and of course, practice the values we learn. If you have money, then donate! If not, that is okay, just ikut your capacity.
This is important because if we keep feeling guilty about not knowing everything, the compassion fatigue will kick in real quick. REAL QUICK GUYS.
It is important to note that all these causes are not competing with each other nor do they have a very strict deadline (unless stated), so it is okay to be flexible with your resources, and that includes your attention too.
If you would like to focus your education this week on understanding Black Lives Matter and next week focus on learning about championing migrant rights in Malaysia, or vice versa, that is aite! If you want to do neither because you are really struggling right now, that is understandable too.
Follow your capacity!
I thought this 2019 video by Hasan Minhaj summarises all this very well. Here he talks about closing some mental tabs for the sake of your sanity.
“It is like having 50 different tabs open in our mental browser.”
“You have every right to close some tabs in your brain, especially if it helps you double down on the issue that really matters to you!”
I hope this sharing was helpful. This is just based on my personal experience and strategy for coping with the world currently. If you have any other thoughts/comments/strategies, please feel free to share them with us. In the meanwhile, stay safe kawan-kawan.
P.S. Before leaving, I would like to share this very helpful post made my friend, Nicole that is apt for the current week. Where possible and able, do continue speaking up for causes that are important to you!
Share this post if it was helpful for you 🙂