7 Ways To 'Stay Woke' When Our Political Climate Wants You Asleep

7 Ways To 'Stay Woke' When Our Political Climate Wants You Asleep

Keeping up with news in the United States alone is a full-time job, and I already have one of those.

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Is it just me, or has the current political climate, globally, made you twitchy?

Unless you live under a rock (sorry, very poor word choice), I'm guessing you've noticed that several headlines cycle through each day, offering further reasons for us to question our faith in humanity and in the world around us.

I mean, I get lightheaded when I start thinking about who's in and who's out of the Trump administration.

Keeping up with news in the United States alone is a full-time job, and I already have one of those.

It's a lot.

It's overwhelming.

But being "woke," or informed, is the most important thing you can do for yourself in changing political and social climates. It's self-preservation, really.

So here are some ways I've found that allow me to stay up to date on current events without losing my shit (all while working full-time).

1. Sign up for the Daily Skimm.

Something to look forward to, the Daily Skimm sends free daily emails that summarize the big headlines of the day. And these headlines will seriously make you LOL.

2. Limit your news apps.

On my phone, I have what I like to call a smorgasbord: a little to the left, a little to the right and a little somewhere close to the middle. To me, that means: CNN for breaking news, Politico for politics and Aljazeera for world affairs.

To see what's going on with the Democrats, I go to NPR. And for that alt-right gobbledygook (sorry, now MY bias is showing), I reluctantly go to Fox. But, hey, don't take my word for it. Check your sources.

Everyone has a bias, and every corporation has an agenda. As much as we'd all like to take our favorite news anchor's word for it, we live in a world of alternative facts. So it's imperative that we, as consumers, trust but verify. Always verify.

3. Practice yoga.

A happy society is an informed one, but lately the news has become a point of contention. And, for me at least, it induces stress. That's why it's important to remove yourself from it every once in a while.

Not a fan of tree pose? Take walks or read fiction. Do something — anything — that's not related to current affairs. And I don't mean checking social media.

4. Talk to people.

Folks, our country is seriously divided right now. But progress, however you define it, cannot be created without some semblance of unity. I mean, imagine a group of friends unable to decide where they should eat out. Unless some compromises are made, a decision is pretty much impossible.

And if we don't actually want to live in a fascist society, we've really got to start listening to one another.

My advice? Get talking. Talk with people you agree with and people you don't. Talk with people whose ideas you've never even considered. Yes, even if they seem a little like a conspiracy theories. Just do it. Trust me.

5. Set aside time.

Staying woke takes time, y'all. It just does.

But as I've said, it is important that you do so. Sorry, I know there's a dead horse somewhere and I am responsible for beating it. Wow, I do dislike that saying...

Anyway, just set aside ten minutes a day. Don't have ten minutes? I don't believe you.

6. Click on uplifting stories.

I'm looking at you, Ms. Negative Nancy. There are positive things happening around the world every day, multiple times a day.

For example, check out the amazing SEAL team that rescued those boys and their coach from that cave in Thailand.

7. Avoid clickbait.

If you're reading this, I can only assume that you are not a fish but a human being. Therefore, with your opposable thumbs and pretty large brain, you should be able to distinguish between a headline that's being marketed toward your beliefs and an actual news story.

For example, I care about the environment. And because I have clicked on and searched items related to the environment, stories geared toward that topic pop up on my Facebook news feed and elsewhere on the internet. And we should all know that just because something is on the internet doesn't make it true, I'm looking at you, Wikipedia.

Do you know that there are countries that make a profit from selling Americans fake headlines? Well, it's a thing.

So be a human and don't go for the bait.

Phew, I feel more woke already. How about you?

Cover Image Credit:

GencoSidlePhotos / Flickr

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'As A Woman,' I Don't Need To Fit Your Preconceived Political Assumptions About Women

I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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It is quite possible to say that the United States has never seen such a time of divisiveness, partisanship, and extreme animosity of those on different sides of the political spectrum. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are saturated with posts of political opinions and are matched with comments that express not only disagreement but too often, words of hatred. Many who cannot understand others' political beliefs rarely even respect them.

As a female, Republican, college student, I feel I receive the most confusion from others regarding my political opinions. Whenever I post or write something supporting a conservative or expressing my right-leaning beliefs and I see a comment has been left, I almost always know what words their comment will begin with. Or in conversation, if I make my beliefs known and someone begins to respond, I can practically hear the words before they leave their mouth.

"As a woman…"

This initial phrase is often followed by a question, generally surrounding how I could publicly support a Republican candidate or maintain conservative beliefs. "As a woman, how can you support Donald Trump?" or "As a woman, how can you support pro-life policies?" and, my personal favorite, "As a woman, how did you not want Hillary for president?"

Although I understand their sentiment, I cannot respect it. Yes, being a woman is a part of who I am, but it in no way determines who I am. My sex has not and will not adjudicate my goals, my passions, or my work. It will not influence the way in which I think or the way in which I express those thoughts. Further, your mention of my sex as the primary logic for condemning such expressions will not change my adherence to defending what I share. Nor should it.

To conduct your questioning of my politics by inferring that my sex should influence my ideology is not only offensive, it's sexist.

It disregards my other qualifications and renders them worthless. It disregards my work as a student of political science. It disregards my hours of research dedicated to writing about politics. It disregards my creativity as an author and my knowledge of the subjects I choose to discuss. It disregards the fundamental human right I possess to form my own opinion and my Constitutional right to express that opinion freely with others. And most notably, it disregards that I am an individual. An individual capable of forming my own opinions and being brave enough to share those with the world at the risk of receiving backlash and criticism. All I ask is for respect of that bravery and respect for my qualifications.

Words are powerful. They can be used to inspire, unite, and revolutionize. Yet, they can be abused, and too comfortably are. Opening a dialogue of political debate by confining me to my gender restricts the productivity of that debate from the start. Those simple but potent words overlook my identity and label me as a stereotype destined to fit into a mold. They indicate that in our debate, you cannot look past my sex. That you will not be receptive to what I have to say if it doesn't fit into what I should be saying, "as a woman."

That is the issue with politics today. The media and our politicians, those who are meant to encourage and protect democracy, divide us into these stereotypes. We are too often told that because we are female, because we are young adults, because we are a minority, because we are middle-aged males without college degrees, that we are meant to vote and to feel one way, and any other way is misguided. Before a conversation has begun, we are divided against our will. Too many of us fail to inform ourselves of the issues and construct opinions that are entirely our own, unencumbered by what the mainstream tells us we are meant to believe.

We, as a people, have become limited to these classifications. Are we not more than a demographic?

As a student of political science, seeking to enter a workforce dominated by men, yes, I am a woman, but foremost I am a scholar, I am a leader, and I am autonomous. I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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Educate Yourself And Spread Facts, Not Bias

Do you know the truth? Or are you allowing rumors to cloud your judgement of the political arena?

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In our society, the government has grown to be a capitalistic effort. Payout, backroom deals, we are unaware of many actions those that represent us take behind closed doors. The transparency we think we see is unrealistic and just not the way that politics actually work. In the entire world, governance has become essential to the survival and future of society. No two governments are the same, and they are essentially ever changing as many people of power change constantly.

This being said influence from these individuals rule the political sphere. Whether it be a local councilperson, senator, governor, or even the president.IN the U.S. our daily lives and wellbeing rest in the hands of the few. Some of these politicians are honest and work genuinely for the people. However, agenda frequently takes over the arena and leaves the decisions of our livelihood to the gains of politicians.

Our generation has the lowest voter turnout, leaving the decisions that we do have to older generations. Some of those hold ideologies that are not relevant nor acceptable to the climate we live in today. This is not a call to action but more of a thought. As someone who was incredibly uninvolved in politics, I wanted to look at why I lacked the care that other people my age held so passionately. I believe it starts with my distaste of conflict, which many people my age also agree with. Politics can lead to confrontation and negative conversation.

Therefore, who would want to make friendships and interactions awkward with an avoidable subject. I found myself straying from these conversations and becoming uncomfortable when friends assert opinions that I do not agree with. However, in taking classes where this environment hinges the change in industries I study. I was forced to form some type of opinion in the matter.

From here I decided to change the lens on how I looked at politics. Instead of shying away, I really listened to what my professors felt about it and their assertions. I then did my own research, looking into the history of matters that my peers and professors talked about. Educating myself on what the facts were, versus believing in rumors that I heard through the grapevine.

I started engaging friends in a positive manner, as opposing opinions are valuable in a holistic situational viewpoint. I became comfortable in the discomfort of politics and worked to learn what may be in store for our world. My point for this is to educate yourself on genuine fact. Do not assert opinions based on information that your friend or even a professor gives you, keep your knowledge on the subject relevant.

You never know when legislation may come out that seriously effects your way of life. Most importantly, knowledge is power and power is what those that leave us in ignorance have over us.

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