In Defense of Discomfort/In Defense of the News

I have not read the news in a week.

I watched Donald Trump get inaugurated on Friday and got so upset by his speech (and, later, the fact that the administration removed numerous parts of the White House website including information about Americans with disabilities, climate change, LGBTQIA rights, and the option to read the website in Spanish) that I came close to breaking a door going home only to start a nasty fight with someone and then cry.

And, since Friday, I have happily let myself retreat back into my cute little French life that is so easily distanced from the United States, even if I did participate in Montpellier’s Women’s March on Saturday. I’ve been watching a lot of The Bachelorette, spending a lot of time with the significant other, and occasionally reading election memes on my Facebook page. And while there is, of course, nothing wrong with continuing to have a life in light of Donald Trump’s unfortunate existence, any protest I have engaged in since the inauguration has been extremely comfortable for me. This post-inauguration weekend activism has very much been on the conditions of my privilege, if not only as a white, heterosexual, cis-gendered, abled woman from the upper-middle class, but as an ex-patriot who doesn’t even have to live in the US right now. Where I am right now makes comfort easy, but I have made the conscious decision to keep it so by removing myself from what is happening and choosing to not read the news.

The news is fucking upsetting right now. I got an email from my mom this morning that said she has to stop reading it because it makes her physically sick. When I (guiltily) told her she had to keep at it, I went to go look for myself for the first time in said week and was unable to even click on any of the articles past their headlines because the stories scared me so much.

But the thing is, this is a scary, upsetting, uncomfortable time, and it has to affect people in positions of privilege so, even if what it reports on does not impact the cushion of that privilege directly. The news, if reading good sources, is (I would argue) always a little upsetting, and this is probably a large factor in why it is not terribly popular.

From my experience, though, the most common resistance that I experience as a privileged person is through being informed. Everybody has real, valid problems, and I don’t mean to diminish these by any means, but the news helps put them in perspective with other, real, valid problems that do not necessarily resemble one’s own. I would argue that a large factor behind the election of Donald Trump was a bigotry bred from this exact focus on one’s own issues and failing to recognize the scope of the world outside what feels familiar.

So let’s be upset. Let’s be mad. Let’s read the fucking news, and stay informed in ways that will not let us be comfortable. Let’s make sure we are prepared to have well-informed, concretely evidenced arguments ready when confronting bigotry and ignorance in our everyday lives, and not allow others to be comfortable either. Let’s have our days ruined by events that may not personally involve us by making the fight against those events something we consider personally important.

I know all news is, on some level, biased, but so is any media whether it be digital, printed, or through conversation. Everything is up to the individual to challenge and interpret themselves, and this, certainly, does not exclude the news. Anyway, my point is, my personal favorite news sources are:

  1. Al Jazeera
  2. BBC News
  3. Democracy Now
  4. NPR
  5. Last Week Tonight (comedy, yes, but actually extremely well researched, and brings up stories you don’t hear everywhere.)