I have not slept through the night since the election.
It’s uncomfortable to write this in a public forum, because such an admission is likely to brand me a special snowflake who melted when my “side” didn’t win. Contrary to the jeers circulating on social media and conservative talk radio, being horrified in the wake of this election does not make me weak. Nor does it make me more noble or more human than those who are resting better in the wake of a Trump presidency.
It does mean I have to stop sleeping with my phone.
Here’s how I’m putting the phone to bed, as well as four other ways to thrive here in the darkest timeline.
Get an alarm clock
Even when I’m trying to read something light and airy before bed, of late I always end up back onto the news. And how can I not? Nearly all other news seems absolutely trivial.
I don’t want our President’s sneering visage to be the first thing I see in the morning or the last thing I see before bed. If the months since the election have been representative, each day of his administration will bring fresh new controversy and stale old complacence, excuses, or even acceptance from people who were willing to overlook everything he said and did in his entire previous public life. I’ll win no hearts and minds by retweeting the latest conflict of interest or scandalous appointment.
I’m taking a cue from Arianna Huffington’s new venture, Thrive Global, and focusing on how sleeping with my smartphone impacts my sleep and my mental health. At $100, The Phone Bed is a bit steep for me, but I’m using Inauguration Day as an occasion to get my phone out of my room.
Listen to the news
Foregoing nightly phone reading when a stay-at-home-parent means there is precious little reading time in the daylight. But podcasts allow me to stay updated on the news even when I’m in a blanket fort. I’ll continue to listen to Rachel Maddow, Keeping it 1600, and Slate’s Trumpcast, all of which take deep dives into a few stories per episode.
There’s a clear political slant to my current listening habits, so I’m also on the search for my own Mary Matalins, to deliberately seek out people who disagree with me but who can also speak cogently and respectfully about those differences.
The optimist in me hopes that Trump’s election will, in fact, drain the swamp. That’s clearly not going to happen through his political appointees, but it may just happen by inspiring new people to run for office. Trump’s election has also taught the valuable lesson that, regardless of party, we lose when we forget to do our job as citizens. When I moved to a new state last year, I did only the most cursory of homework: registering to vote and looking up the names of my state senators. That’s C-level work at best.
I’ve downloaded the Indivisible Guide, which I am already putting it to use in calling my congresspeople (all of whose names I now know, which is a start). I’m far from A-level citizenship yet, but I’m a quick study.
The presidential election has brought renewed attention to the “facebook bubble.” Although we have always viewed the world through our own lenses, the ability of social media outlets to filter out all opinions we disagree with is making it harder for us to see the world from different points of view. So I’m looking for ways small and large to expose myself to new ideas. One of those small ways is Stephen Dubner’s new quiz show, Tell Me Something I Don’t Know. Each of the first season’s six episodes features a panel of celebrity/expert judges, who listen to guest presenters’ “IDKs.” Panelists, guests, fact-checkers, and listeners all leave the show with fun new trivia. But they also leave having listened to people whom they might not otherwise have been willing to listen to.
In episode 3, for example, Dubner hosts linguist John McWhorter, author Frank Delaney, and talk show host Dr. Oz. I trend toward John Oliver’s view of Oz’s show as some guy named Mehmet. I’m especially troubled by his sources of income, which include some of the supplement companies he advertises on his show. If I encountered Dr. Oz in a newspaper, I’d likely stop reading. If I encountered him on TV, I’d change the channel. But in this case, as my hands were already in the dish water, I gave into inertia and kept listening through my scrubbing.
And you know what? I learned something I didn’t know. I’m still not taking medical advice from Dr. Oz. But I will keep looking for new people to listen to.
The election has made me even more committed to my research on parenting. It’s more important than ever for all of us to be better researchers. I’m not just talking about ignoring fake news stories or fact-checking our new President: that’s the basic C-level work akin to just registering to vote. To be better parents and better citizens, we need critical reading. We need mathematical literacy. And we need the creativity to teach these skills to our children from an early age. I’ll continue to write about all of these things here at snackdinner, and hope that you’ll keep reading and sharing them.
Originally published at www.snackdinner.com on December 15, 2016.
Originally published at medium.com