Breathe in, breathe out

Mini announcement: I'm switching to WordPress over the weekend, so there may be some unavailability of the site Saturday night (US Eastern time) and I'll be tweaking the design Sunday so it might look like a smacked ass for a couple of days. Apologies in advance, but the move has to be made before we all die of spam comments.

Now: Is anyone else just getting super-stressed by media of all sorts these days? It feels like everyone gets internet-weary every August, but I'm getting increasingly stressed and anxious as we grind closer to our US elections here. It's a combo of the internet and tv and just everything.

I'm trying to figure out how to deal with it, and have come up with a few tips by accident:

1. I usually watch one of the morning shows in the morning after I get the kids off to school and while I'm writing. On Sunday night I was watching the show "Being: Liverpool" on Fox Soccer and I didn''t switch channels before I turned off the tv. On Monday morning I had a replay of the Reading/Liverpool game on during the time I usually watch the morning shows, and it was like night and day. No stress whatsoever. I may go all soccer all the time until November 6.

2. I'm staying strictly on my own FB page and keeping Twitter on "interactions" so I only see things people directly send me. I lucked into "interactions" and was amazed by how easy Twitter is to manage when you only speak when spoken to. And after being enraged by yet another troll on a friend's FB page I'm sticking to my own.

3. I'm making playlists for my Christmas-themed website that's starting again next week, and it's shocking how relaxing Christmas music is in the off-season.

4. I'm back running again! Woo-hoo!

Are you all feeling as super-stressed as I am by media right now? How are you dealing with it? (Or aren't you?) Were we all this stressed during the 2008 elections? Why don't Canadians seem to get as bent out of shape by your elections?

46 thoughts on “Breathe in, breathe out”

  1. I am completely in agreement with you. Twitter isn’t driving me nuts as much, but Facebook really is. And I have a kid in the Chicago Public Schools and the strike is becoming so contentious I can’t even talk about it with people. People keep being like “if you support the kids do THIS” and if you disagree you’re a horrible person and it starts a fight. And tons of the people starting the fights have no kids in the system. So I am kind of on FB posting lockdown the last day or two.

  2. I’m good, but I’m usually fairly low-media anyway (no TV usually, no facebook ever, and I don’t follow that many people on twitter).I like elections and keeping up with it…in an amused, detached sort of way. Kind of like watching the circus.
    I am keeping a fairly detached view of the world events because it’s just rage-making.
    As for Canadians, I think they are just a very polite people. Or maybe passive-agressive instead of just aggressive-aggressive. Hi, Canadians! Love you and your beer and maple syrup (though I hear the strategic maple syrup reserve was stolen!).

  3. Until the teacher’s strike I had a twitter-link-only news reading policy. If my twitter follows think it’s important enough to link, maybe I’ll click and read.I have been a public radio junkie about the strike though, because our local Chicago station is about the only place to get real coverage of what’s going on and why.
    As soon as the teachers sign a contract, I’m going off the radio too. I almost never watch any t.v. news anyway.

  4. Facebook tip: if you get the Social Fixer browser add-on, you can filter posts (so they either get automatically hidden, or put into their own tab). You just have to come up with the words you want filtered out.You can also hide posts as you read them.

  5. @SarcatiCarrie, ha! On that maple syrup thing! I’m an expat Quebecer and had no idea about the strategic reserve until recently–I especially like how The Atlantic referred to Quebec as the “Saudi Arabia of maple syrup”!Yes, Canadians fret as much about their elections, but we’re just more reserved. Not a lot gets a bunch of Canadians uncomfortably silent at a party than talk about politics (unless you’re with a bunch of wonks or political scientists).
    But media rage? I guess I never watch local news or TV news in general (no context? forget about it!). I read the NYT and listen to NPR, my little bubble of reality. I know stuff that enrages me is out there, most of the time, I just choose not to engage (unless it’s about signing petitions and supporting my favorite causes). I don’t do Twitter and rarely Facebook.

  6. I am a new permanent resident of Canada and I found our recent (and my first) provincial election incredibly stressful. And I wasn’t even allowed to vote. I don’t know if it is the time of year but I am finding it increasingly more difficult to cope with ‘the outside world’. My coping strategy is to hand quilt my first ever queen sized quilt and watch The Voice which is surprisingly entertaining. Bleargh. Roll on Christmas!

  7. I am super-stressed by the lack of media in my life. We have recently moved and for the last month have not had any phone or broadband connection so I have either been emailing from my phone ( not easy) or using the public wifi that is a bitch to connect to. Don’t watch the local news and not able to read the newspapers I normallly do online has cut me off from the rest of the world. feels like I have been on a desert island when I finally manage to crank up the internet ( like now).

  8. I feel a sort of free-floating anxiety about the state of the world most of the time. I am extremely deliberate in screening what I look it. So I end up not looking at that much. I generally have a personal philosophy that if I’m not actively engaged in a cause (volunteering, contributing money, etc.) then if I’m getting all worked up about it I’m just armchair quarterbacking, and I hate it when other people do that, so it helps keep me from spinning out of control. I’m not sure if that makes sense. Basically, I “allow” myself to spaz over a few, select topics, and then I have to let the rest go.It’s kind of like flying the modern airlines, this being-in-the-world. You have to do it, but there are so many forces outside your control, and outcomes can be terrible. Or maybe fine. You never really know.

  9. I recently decided I’d rather a new phone then having the satellite TV subscription, so to save money we stopped the TV. (We use iTunes to buy things to watch). Although life with two young kids is driving me nuts at the moment, not having inane shows or upsetting news on all the time really helps! (As an aside, I am an Australian who lives outside of, but close to the USA so our TV is from the States. In general the programming is INCREDIBLY repetitious and relentless. I often found it really overwhelming and/or sucked me in, but not in a fun way!)

  10. Sometime last winter I stopped watching the Today Show when I was getting ready for work every day. Actually, it was the day Sarah Palin guesthosted. I just couldn’t stand watching it after that.Now I either listen to a comedy podcast, or put a sitcom on Netflix for some background noise. No news, no politics. It’s a much better way to start my day than getting irritated about some dumb thing on tv. If I need to check the weather forecast or check for school closings (my job doesn’t allow me to work if local schools are closed), I can do so really quickly online.

  11. As a Western Canadian, I think (just MY opinion here) that our politicians aren’t as polarizing as the more recent American ones seem to be, so there is less stress in regards to which faction will take office. What freaks me out more in the media these days is the world news and the overwhelming thought that everything seems to be going to hell in a handbag and I’m passing a overconsuming, environment-sucking, third world actually dying, world to my child. Ugh.

  12. I live in a swing state. I have totally quite watching TV except shows that I have DVRed and can fast forward throught the commercials. I only listen to NPR on the radio. I am seriously thinking of taking a Facebook hiatus. I love news, and I love being engaged, and I love thinking aobut the hard questions of modern life. But the anxiety is getting to be too much. I suppose it is a function of the relentlessness of the 24 hour news cycle.I remember once reading an article on the special brand of American religion. Because there was no state endorsed or state mandated religion, each church or denomination had to shout louder and louder to get more followers. That is how we have ended up with lots of small, radical religous organizations with each one trying to out-Christian the other. That is what is happening with the news. There are so many news outlets that they each have to shout louder and shout crazier things to get heard in the cacaphony.

  13. Yeah, the media is stressing me out too. As a writer/editor of nonfiction for kids and YA (science, history current events, culture studies…that sort of thing), I feel I have to keep up with everything. If I try to ignore the news, I can’t do my job well. (*sigh*)Also, here in MN we have not only the general election to deal with but also 2 hotly contested proposed constitutional amendments. I am decided already — but I can’t escape all the impassioned public rhetoric. It’s not just in the media, but plastered all over everyone’s lawn, car, clothing…you name it. It alternately inspires me and fills me with rage/despair.
    I have a few FB friends (relatives, actually) who constantly say provoking things and are never willing to engage in civil, intelligent discussion. I’ve hidden their posts so I won’t see them in my newsfeed, and I will myself not to look at their pages. It ain’t easy.

  14. As a Canadian – I agree with Heather that our politicians are less polarizing (I mean, our government is ‘right wing’, but it still supports universal health care). I also think it’s less stressful because our elections don’t drag on and on. I am suffering US election fatigue and I don’t get to vote. But it does seem that with congressional elections every two years, primary run-offs, and then presidential elections, Americans are constantly in some phase of the election cycle. It’s exhausting following it.I find myself getting really worked up and stressed out about American politics so I just have to shut it off – I don’t have a say, I don’t get to vote. There are bigger problems in the world right now (and could the media cover some of that please, instead of regurgitating the newest offensive thing that Rush Limbaugh has spouted).

  15. I’m on a media diet, too.I’m stressed because election coverage reminds me of how divided our country is right now. We don’t just disagree about the best solutions to our problems; we can’t even agree on basic facts. It’s incredibly stressful and disheartening.
    Then again, maybe I’m overreacting: http://onion.com/ahF48c

  16. For the last 12 years or so, I have had a very avoidant approach to dealing with election season hoopla. As it is, I also never watch local news (and regret it if I do).I always but always vote but I research issues/candidates selectively at my own speed and using reasonable sources while filling out my permanent absentee ballot.
    My life is stressful enough without screaming at the TV or newspaper or getting involved in politics on the internet.
    Moxie, I hope your switchover goes smoothly. My org’s site is on WordPress and I love it.

  17. Hm, no, I’m not stressed out by the media right now, but maybe because I feel pretty in control of it. Most people I follow on Twitter are either UX professionals or Gov20 geeks and there isn’t much spouting off on political views. For whatever reason, my Facebook crew rarely posts political stuff (we’re not all on the same side, I do know that, but people seem aware that they’re talking on a big microphone and keep it clean). And like @eep, I never ever ever watch “live” (i.e. unrecorded) TV. Also, California is not a swing state, so there aren’t as many ads here.So…no, but I can see how it would be nuts. 🙁

  18. Funny, I stress out way more about the U.S. elections than our own here north if the border. Save for the recent provincial election, which had to do with Quebec separation. But if you want to Canadians and Canadian media allriled up, talk about the NHL lock-out!

  19. I think part of it, speaking as a Canadian, is that our elections are not as regularly scheduled as in the US, so they are called sometimes quite quickly and happen rather fast, so less time to get pent up about it. It seems like with American elections, you’re always counting down to the next one, and can never really concentrate on the current situation. So if Obama gets re-elected, it’ll be constant “who will be the next Democratic nominee” for the next two years.I’d like to go on a news fast, generally, but I just started my MBA and am expected to know what’s going on in the world. I try to restrict my reading to the business pages which is somehow a little less stressful (partially because I don’t entirely understand it yet).

  20. 2 major differences in Canadian politics:1) They can’t campaign as long (it’s like a month or so) and IIRC there’s big rules about how campaigns are funded.
    2) I don’t know that I’d say its not as polaraized, there is definately still loathing and rhetoric and lying and ignorance in both camps. But unless I missed something, no one in Canada brings guns to political rallys. We tend to debate issues more than we pick apart people. And we tend to be able to debate without completely losing our shmidt and respect for the other person.

  21. I know this is completely counter intuitive to most Americans, but having compulsory voting here in Australia does take some of the drama out of the election cycle, because it is a much more private matter.Because everyone over 18 is expected to vote, they don’t have to ‘register’ with any particular party, and are more likely to even make a decision as they walk up to the ballot box. In my experience, unless they are very politically active, people here are mostly very private about their political beliefs.
    That said, the last couple of years with our first female Prime Minister have been extremely distressing to me personally. The very personal and specific nature of many of the things said about her are, I am positive, more nasty then in the past, specifically because she is a woman. Regardless of my political views, I find it appalling.
    Criticize her policies by all means, but leave off all the taunts that relate to her gender and her being ‘barren’. I can not think of any male politician that has ever been attacked in this country for having or not having children. People (especially popular extreme radio personalities “shock jocks”) seem much more comfortable with off the cuff remarks about her being killed, or hurt.
    It has definitely made me want to stop listening to our media. I think limiting exposure is a very sensible route to take. That said, reading a good quality paper to stay somewhat in touch seems less distressing.

  22. Hello. Polite Canadian here… :)Campaigning for federal and provincial elections cannot happen until the writ is dropped, and then the max number of days until the election is 36 days. So, no dragging on and on with the campaigning. We get bombarded for about a month, then that’s it. We still complain about it though.

  23. I live very near Washington, DC, so here it’s politics all the time. I escape it by not watching any news (I was never a big network news person, anyway), only listening to NPR on the radio, I don’t twitter, and I’ve hidden all of the people on Facebook (some of them family!) who just like to write inflammatory things.I really don’t know any undecided voters…everyone is either solidly in one camp or another, so I don’t see the point of discussing politics unless it’s with someone with whom I share a common viewpoint. I wish people could discuss it rationally, but they never can seem to.

  24. Just adding my small, random data point: I was totally this stressed in 2008. (And that’s not backhanded or anything; I am totally stressed now, too.) “Vote early, vote often!”

  25. Wow, so timely. And I am sooo glad it isn’t just me. I’ve been wondering if I should start seeing a counselor because I feel angry all the time – but almost entirely about politics and world issues. It’s made worse when it’s friends or family on FB. I wish I had my husband’s ability to be emotionally detached from it. And I wish there were a way to stay informed without running across opinions that enrage me (because I will argue with those people in my head all day).Over the weekend I didn’t have a lot of time for media and I noticed so much less stress and anxiety.

  26. Like in Canada when general elections are called they happen quickly afterwards in the UK. There are weeks of fevered campaigning but it’s a short, sharp shock sort of thing.You may get a candidate canvassing with a rosette on his/her outfit on your doorstep but you won’t get phonecalls.It’s true that when five years of a government are up, and they’ve not called an election one will be called. But that really doesn’t happen.
    There’s also the fact that like the US we historically had the two party system, Conservatives and Liberals, then Conservatives and Labour ( socialists) . If Labour got in they’d throw out the former Conservative governments ideas and vice versa. Now they’re in practice much closer together on ideas and are harder to tell apart. And they’re not the only show in town.
    Now there are three parties, with the Liberals back in business with the two bigger ones and presently we have a Coalition government. Nobody expects it to last five years.
    The other thing is that when the parties campaign they put forward Tom. Dick or Harry for prime minister. But you vote for their parties.
    So if Tom wins, and his party dislikes him or finds him a loser, then they can put up a different leader midway. The prime minister isn’t a president and the Queen is the sure and steady head of state.
    At the risk of being a very impolite Brit there’s far less of a religious angle to elections. They’re very secular oriented. Party leaders may be religious, but it’s a private thing. That means you have pretty radical ideas on the right and left but not the religious right.
    The US knows when the next presidential elections are and long campaigns and high running passions and media saturation must make it beyond stressful.
    If it makes any US reader feel any better when I was in school learning about US politics we were told Democrats wanted a republic and Republicans favoured Democracy. We all wondered what there could possible be to argue about………….
    Absolutely anything it seems. The uS election gets plenty of coverage here. And it’s more exciting for sure than the national elections from a distance. Up close it must be more than exciting.

  27. Ditto what the other Canadians have already said. Our elections are fast and furious. It does feel like the U.S. is always counting down to an election, or analyzing the results from an election.I also feel our conservative politicians are much more centrist than many conservative American politicians.
    That said, there are an awful lot of Canadians who are quietly despairing at what our current Conservative government is doing now that it has a majority.
    I find municipal politics to be enormously stressful, given my mayor is a buffoon.

  28. ESPN shows UK FA Womens Super League games now and then, I believe. As an Arsenal Ladies supporter I feel compelled to mention it…

  29. This is a really interesting discussion for me as a Brit – talking politics is something that we do very differently, and with a more cynical ‘they’re all the same’ air. There’s certainly less fervour in the commentators than what I’ve heard/seen in the US, and whilst I do frequently shout at the screen/radio, that’s more to do with the actual politicians and their absurd policies than with the media in and of itself. Of course, I’m very self-selecting in my media consumption but it helps that we have a national broadcaster who is obligated to be impartial/unbiased. There’s also a stronger sense of arguing about the policies rather than the person – as a PP pointed out, having a ruling sovereign (even yes an entirely undemocratic one) means that it’s much more party political than personality driven. And the real secret it must be admitted is that we’re all watching the football instead… 🙂

  30. It’s because vtoing is not compulsory in the USA. So their typical voter turnout is 30-40%. Last time people were amazed that there was more than 50% vtoing.It works so well in Australia because we know everyone’s going to turn up (well 98-99% of registered voters) so we prepare. Why would the Yanks bother setting up so many polling places for only 30% of those elegible?Their system doesn’t seem very democratic from an Australian perspective where the pollies are always claiming a mandate. The US has a first past the post system so, if there’s a couple of 3rd party candidates, the winner might get only 40% of the votes cast by that 30% of the elegible population hardly a mandate for anything.

  31. 100% voting would mean nnihtog and would not bring any change in Governance unless and untill it is done with due dilligence bereft of any identity politics. Forget for a moment about your caste, community, contacts and treat yourself as CEO making a selction of your employees. If you are looking for results, I am sure you would go for merit and merit alone and would not be biased by others recommendations or propaganda blitz.Avinash Chawla

  32. I’m not sure who got to make the decision to label Tea Party mmbrees “extreme”. Isn’t it possible that the majority of Americans consider the liberal left extreme? I don’t know what’s progressive about more taxes and larger government.

  33. It’s that time again and timely reiendmrs are always welcome! Make your vote count keep the politicians honest .That could be a contradiction . Ray CEO and Founder Myrdhinns Marketing Group

  34. The election syestm first past the post we have used a lot of times when we have elected the school president or members of school council. It is clear and very acceptable syestm because the candidates and what they stand for are very well-known. But for parliament elections the other syestm is used usually proportional representation. In this case electors should know very well the politics of parties which take part in the elections.

  35. He is passing auhitrtoy to the Vice-president? Like Putin passing auhitrtoy to Medvedev in Russia. Are both the Egyptian vice president and Medvedev both puppets on a string?? I say Mubarak will be gone alot sooner then that now that he’s announced his intentions.RainbowRay?????

  36. Maging bias na rin yata ako sa ATM kasi maraming basis nryangai sa nakaraan na ang COMELEC natin ai palagin na involved sa irregularites lalo na sa cheating. Kaya hindi na kami magtataka kong mai mangyari na naman sa ATM like what is happening now, WHY IS IT THAT A LOT OF SAFEGUARDS IN THE ATM WERE REMOVED? ang nabasa namin or naririnig ai mga katwiran na parang toto.o pero its all lies simple lang, bakit aalisin ang safeguards na yan, hindi dapat, for whatever reasons, hindi dapat mangyari yan. kong ina alis ang safeguard na yan ibig sabihin mas pwedeng hindi ina alis,SAFEGUARDS YAN EH Again, who will not think na mayroong bad intentions na gawin bakit ba ina alis yan, SAFEGUARD REMOVED? PERA NA NAMAN? BINIBILI NA NAMAN SILA? WHO WILL NOT THINK IT THAT WAY? Mas pablor syempre ni GMA kong mai failure of elections, WHAT NEXT? PINOYS MUST SAVE OUR NATION AGAIN FOR THE SECOND TIME PATI AKO IKAKALAS KO NA ANG BUHAY KO DITO

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