How do you stay informed and stay sane?

A friend of mine made a date to get together and, as an aside, said she felt so much better in her life now that Joe Biden is President. “Everything is so much better now”. “There are no more kids in cages!”

I disagreed. Then, I made a mistake.

I did a quick Google about some of the events around me that have been bothering me, in order to show this friend that just because Joe Biden is President, immigration is still a mess and people are still being harmed.

My mistake: I read beyond the headline in a couple of sources that I know better than to ever open. I jumped into the cesspool before I looked down. What I got was a long story about an old kids-in-cage photo that had been published, then refuted. About how this one lied, that one lied, the other made something else up… No wonder people are confused.

It took me a couple of minutes to clear my head, then I found a Reuter’s post that showed my friend what I was concerned about.

I also sent along some information on just-how-bad it is for transfolk in America, and by association, the pressure on all LBGTQ folk. That is the news that is keeping me up at night, when I don’t heed my own advice.

This lapse in judgment (I know better than to read hyperbolic sources!) reminded me that it was time to share this oldie-by-still-relevant post from 2019.

How do you stay informed and stay sane?

You’ve all seen the cartoon. David Sipress is the man who created it. Two adults are walking down a city street and one says to the other, “My desire to stay well-informed is currently at odds with my desire to remain sane.” In the New Yorker, David Sipress wrote about being a news cartoonist: here. The cartoon was created in the Clinton administration. It is still a struggle to stay sane.

Remove sources of hyperbole and false news from your life

Vet the people:

Last summer, I began to “write off” the word of people who went off on an outraged rant based on false information or exaggerated information. They post about all manner of illegal and immoral behavior being conducted by Clinton, Sanders, or Trump. Some of the accusations were true or partly true. But the level of outrage was, well, outrageous. I didn’t unfriend. I just stopped opening posts from those people.

To do: Do not open links about politics on Facebook, unless the friend posting is reliable. Do not open outraged posts unless you have already verified that the news is accurate.

 Verify the news:

I began to check almost everything I read for authenticity. Facebook remains a place for posts about things that never happened, bad things that happened years ago posted as if the just happened, and exaggerated things. These kinds of posts draw many clicks. Those clicks are counted and are good for business.

Snopes: I watched how often a news source showed up on the “false” or “unproven” categories on Snopes. (If you don’t know about Snopes, go there now. You can read my blog later.)

Snopes is a news verification source that should be your best friend. You input key words of a news story and find out if there is verification. You can send them a story for verification, if it isn’t there yet.

Google: A true story will be found on a Google search. Hallmarks to look for: similar information, similar dates.

I identified left-leaning and right-leaning sources that fall in the “false” category more often than not. Most are blogs posing as journalism. Some are partisan sites trying to stir up outrage. Some are blogs, prospering from click-bait titles and stories.

To do:

  1. Verify that a story is current and also mostly true before getting excited about it.
  2. Keep lists of news sources where stories are usually verifiable or usually false.
  3. Stop reading unreliable sources, even if they reinforce your politics.
  4. Develop your list of reliable source.
  5. Extra credit: subscribe and support reliable news sources.

Control the volume

  • Once you find go-to news sources, stick with them.
  • Limit your politics on Facebook. Some people need a “no politics” rule. Some need a limit on the number of topics to look at daily.
  • Limit your time on all social media. You might answer a Tweet or a Messenger ping, but you do not need to then go down the Twitter or Facebook rabbit hole every time the phone pings you.
  • Don’t read news after 7 PM, unless something is breaking that night.
  • If you find an email list that is providing good information, keep it. If you open an email list four times in a row and nothing useful is there, unsubscribe.

These are my daily news sites:

The Guardian

The New York Times

The Boston Globe

Sweet dreams!


Leave a Reply