Being Informed Does Not Make You a Good Person…Necessarily

By Rosemary Barria

 “Remember that self-care is not apathy, and that sensory overload isn’t social justice.” Mary Elizabeth Williams in a recent Salon article 

In the past year I have gone to two extremes, watching, listening to and reading the news every single day to watching nothing, listening to nothing but podcasts and getting my only news from headlines on my facebook feed. This has been a bad year for all of us as a country, I do know that. Personally, I have endured one of the hardest years of my life as a new mom and a preemie mom at that. Do I feel guilty for falling off the wagon of 24/7 ingestion and regurgitation? Nope. However, I would call myself a very empathetic person. I have wanted to save the world since I was like five years old, but never quite knowing how. Riddled with guilt, I would do nothing but regurgitate the news hoping others will care too. Why though? Does me sharing things call people to action or better yet does it call me to action? Usually it just makes me angry and actually depressed if I do just that. Is us biting our nails, typing our latest witty status really useful?

Actually I think social media is a powerful tool. I truly believe it can help us create change and unite us. Not knowing what is going on around me, especially in regards to what is happening in my own country with Black Lives Matters, is in some way enabling it to continue. We need to put these stories on blast for sure. I would argue that knowing about these stories is far more important than Donald Trump’s latest blunder. It is more important than spending our time trolling people like me to vote for Hillary Clinton. I think also of my fellow women sharing their stories of harassment, rape and other violations. I know some may disagree, but I think sharing these stories is empowering. Bring that shit out of the shadows! Women, black folks and others putting up with all this know this isn’t new…of course not, but putting it on blast unites us and shines light on it, so hopefully we can make some change. It can’t stop at the cycle of feeding and regurgitation though. 

My challenge to myself this year is to not dive into horrors but to rather dive into my community. My expertise is helping those who identify as women transition out of lives that don’t suit them and for them to embrace their creativity because that is where I have been. My expertise does not lie in how shitty black folks have it. I know a lot about how shitty women have it. No matter what I know it does not make me a good advocate to sit at my computer crying and screaming at the screen. If this news does not call us to action, then isn’t it just a way to exploit people more? Isn’t it honestly a way for us just to pat ourselves on the back?

It feels good to be involved in the zeitgeist of the time, even to the detriment of our own well being, but don’t you think it would make us all feel better if we were doing some damn good for once instead of just patting ourselves on the back for knowing what is going on? The feelings of uselessness and hopelessness will peel from us and we will emerge as beings connected to our community, not so useless, not so hopeless. Sure check in with the news, but check in with your neighborhood. Get super local news. Sure care about who will win for president, but check in with your local politics too. Believe me, this is mostly a writing to myself. I remind myself to pace myself and you to pace yourself. We are not living in an easy time and we could easily and rightfully get depressed. Be aware, but also act.  Take care of yourself first, then ask your friends, family and community how you can help, and if you have skills to do something, then do something. The least we can do is share marginalized folks stories, but maybe there is more we can do? Ideas?

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