So it’s been pretty quiet here on the blog since the fundraiser ended. Partly that’s because I’ve been trying to focus my energy on laying in some infrastructure in my life so that I can be more productive (and that tends to be boring to blog about.)
But don’t assume that silence means inactivity. Home office here has been a whirlwind as my team has been working on fulfilling the Tak kickstarter, drawing prizes for the worldbuilders lottery, and shipping the everyday store orders in the Tinker’s packs.
(And because I know people will ask in the comments: if you missed the kickstarter, you can order Tak over here in the Tinker’s Packs and yours will ship as soon as the Kickstarter is fulfilled. Which will be super soon.)
Does that sound like a lot of packaging? Because it is.
(Seriously, you can barely move in HQ right now)
But while some of our quiet is due to things being busy, it’s not the entire reason for our silence over here. The truth is, pretty much everyone I know is pretty emotionally distraught over things happening in the world right now, Worldbuilders employees included.
I’ve collected a good team over the years. They’re intelligent, empathetic, good-smelling people. They’re socially aware, and politically active. They wouldn’t work here if they didn’t care about making the world a better place.
And… well… not to bullshit around. But we’re all kind of scared right now. There are things happening the the US and around the world that make us very worried for our country and our people.
But when everything seems awful, what do you do?
Well recently, someone sent me a link to this, telling me that it’s helped them recently.
It’s a part of a blog I wrote years ago. At the time I was talking about charity, but that particular quote rings even more true these days than it did then.
Because the simple truth is this: When things are bad, all you can do is what you can do.
Which is perfectly accurate but also kinda useless in terms of a strategy.
As I mentioned before, pretty much everyone I know is freaked out right now and feeling some version of, “I have to do something, but what?”
Part of what I’m doing to help is that I reach out to my friends to see how they’re doing. I try to console or comfort if I can. I give them someone to talk to. And if they’re looking for it, I give some advice….
But honestly? I’m calling because desperately looking for help myself. So if my friends have good strategies, I steal them or pass them along. I pick their brains because most of the people I know are smarter than me in at least two or three different ways.
So with the hope that it might be helpful to some of you out there, here’s what some of my crew is doing these days….
- Brett – Do Research & Talk to People
One of the frustrating things about media today is that most people tend to filter their news through Facebook and Twitter, neither of which are ideal venues for nuanced discussion or information dissemination. It drives me nuts to see bad, lopsided, or blatantly spun “news” get shared and retweeted without a second thought. I know I can’t change minds, but at least I can try to get people thinking about the news they share.
I’ve been researching quotes, statistics, and claims put forth in memes and shared blog posts from both sides of the partisan divide since before the election, posting links to reliable sources that either support or refute the information. Snopes is a good, easy-to-digest source (yes, I know, “scandal” and all that, but it doesn’t affect the reliability of the data they compile), but links to the Associated Press and Reuters are solid, as is NPR. If there are several sources that have the same information, find and link to all of them. I usually have several browser tabs open on my phone, just in case I need to look something up.
People will argue with you. They’ll post their own sources and memes to persuade or deflect you, or just to assert their point of view. That’s great–you get to do more research, and you’ll have a better understanding of how they view the issue.
Stuff to watch out for:
1. Topic drift. Stay on target, address only the claims put forth in the original article or meme. If someone tries to argue with you by bringing up something that’s tangentially related or used to deflect (“Trump will release his taxes when Clinton releases her emails”), remind them that you are discussing only the original topic. Stick to your guns, but stay calm.
2. Be patient. Don’t devolve into name calling or one-upmanship. You are trying to give accurate information, not start an argument.
3. Ask for counter-arguments from other valid sources. This will start a dialogue and give others a chance to defend their beliefs with their own evidence. Encourage them to keep explaining their point. If it turns out they’re right about something, let them know.
4. Be open to the possibility that you might be wrong. If you’re wrong, it’s not a character flaw. You might not have the whole story. You might be too close to the argument to see it objectively. These are emotionally-charged times, and we’re all human. If someone you disagree with turns out to be right, admit it and thank them.
5. See things from their perspective. It’s very likely that you both agree on the big picture, but disagree on the source of the problem and the solution needed. The more you listen to someone explain their position, the better understanding you get of how they reached it.
6. Be cool. Be Zaphod Beeblebrox cool. Don’t resort to name calling. Don’t start your own topic drift. Don’t bring up old stuff. You’re better than that. You have access to facts and data the likes of which we’ve never had before this day, and you can use it to build your platform, argue your case, and–probably not change anyone’s mind, but get them thinking. And that’s what we want: we want people to start really thinking about stuff.
TL;DR: Fight “alternative truth” with solid facts from reputable sources. Stay cool about it. Understand that you probably won’t change anyone’s mind, but you might get them to start looking up facts for themselves before they click Like, Share, or Retweet.
- Amanda – Write Letters to Your Representatives
I’ve been feeling very helpless for the last few days, and most of my coping mechanisms haven’t been all that great.
Stressed? Me? Whatever gave you that impression? There’s nothing stressful going on in the world! pic.twitter.com/d7MFqj3W0a
— Amanda (@AmandaTheHerder) January 25, 2017
But there’s a lot of productive things that can be done, and while I’m kind of exhausted these days, it’s important to funnel this destructive energy into the policies I disagree with, and not, you know, myself.
I remembered a video I watched from Hank Green this last summer, and I’m using it to have a system to write to my representatives.
This video was made shortly after the Pulse shootings this summer, so it’s focused on LGBT and gun control issues, but you can use this script to write about anything that’s important to you.
Representatives are much more likely to respond to a hand-written letter than an email or signature on an online petition. I actually got a letter back from one of my representatives, and while he didn’t change his vote, he thanked me for my honesty and he gave me a genuine and thoughtful response. He really read my letter (or a staffer did, but still, *someone* did), and it had an impact.
So imagine if he had been inundated with these letters. Maybe we can make a real difference. And making your voice heard is what democracy is about.
Though, honestly, a letter is great, but a call is better.
- Nicole – Call Your Representatives
It seems like there’s something new happening every day that needs our attention, and with the list of points to discuss with your representatives only growing longer, it’s getting harder to keep it all straight.
It’s overwhelming, to be sure, and while it’s got me feeling like this uphill battle may never be over, I realize now more than ever that giving up is not an option. The more issues that need to be discussed, the more important it is that we discuss them.
I’ve started using 5calls.org to help me stay organized in my effort. While their list of issues that need attention may not be 100% complete, it’s a great place to start, and a great resource for phone numbers and even provides talking points and scripts.
The best part of this site is that it prompts me to make another call immediately after I finish one, which helps me maintain my momentum once I get started.
- Amanda Again – Take Care of Yourself
The hardest part of this whole thing, for me, has been the incredible desire to disengage. Bad news just keeps coming through, and we need to be constantly vigilant to stay on top of it.
But then my beloved Jenn tweeted something out that I really needed to hear.
So I’ve had a game night or two where we’re not allowed to look at our phones. I’ve been reading a book and watching TV in the evenings rather than going on social media. I play Stardew Valley and revel in the simple living in that little town, flirting with every.damn.body.
I don’t take whole days off yet, but I’m considering it. One a week maybe.
And then, once I’m feeling a little bit better, I see what else needs doing. I look up phone numbers, I read multiple stories from a variety of sources, and I try to make sure I’m informed by more than the inflammatory stories that happen to line up with my beliefs.
My people are good people. I love them with big love.
But the fact remains, I don’t know what *I* should be doing.
Part of the problem is that I have a lot of resources, and that gives me a lot of options. I have money. I have a platform from which to speak to many people. (This blog, for example.) I admire the hell out of the folks who call and write letters. But I wonder if that’s the best thing for *me* to do with my time and energy.
I feel like there are a lot of people out there that want do do something. They want to make a difference, but don’t know the best way to do that. I feel like there are people out there who want to stay informed, but who are becoming emotionally exhausted by Twitter. People who want to want to be active, who want to help… But who aren’t sure how. They don’t know where to start. Or once they start, they don’t know where to go next….
For over a month now, I’ve been wanting to start a newsletter for people who want to be activists, but could use some help getting started. Or people who *are* activists but want to up their game. People who only have thirty minutes a week to spare, and want to use that time to the best effect. People who want help staying informed without burning out and being overwhelmed.
This idea keeps rolling around in my head. A mailing list that gives people tools and tricks for effective activism.
I have a list of people I’ve already been reaching out to, just exploring. Just seeing if they might be interested in helping me put this together. Folks who are smarter, more informed, and more organized than I am. People with good brains and kind hearts. Experienced activists of many stripes.
And yeah. I don’t need another project. Believe me. Nobody knows that better than I do. I’m too busy. I’ve got too many irons in too many fires.
But what’s happening right now is really important. And besides, I wouldn’t do this myself, I’d bring someone in to orchestrate it, because I suck at organization.
So. Here’s the question. Is this something y’all might be interested in?
If so, enter your e-mail into the form below. If only 8 people sign up, I’ll breathe a sigh of relief, send everyone a polite thank-you, and walk away from the idea.
But if 500 people are interested… well then I might start putting my team together. A 1000 people? Well, that means there’s a pressing need for activism advice out there. And I could help make that available to people…
So… yeah. If you’d be interested in a mailing list about political activism and things going on in the world, drop your e-mail here. Rest assured that if this moves forward, you’ll be able to choose your level of engagement. I can’t imagine sending out more than one email a week at the most…
So… yeah. There’s that. If you’re interested.
I hope y’all are doing okay. Take care of yourselves….