I’m getting FOMU during this election campaign. That is, fear of missing updates.
For the first time in my life there aren’t enough hours in a day to keep up. When I started following politics I’d read the newspaper, watch the news, or listen to the radio and feel I was across the major stories. No longer. The stream of content is constant—with minute-to-minute updates. There’s never been so much to read. There’s so much to take in and if I’m not glued to my phone 24/7, I stress I’ll miss something crucial.
It’s pushing my browsing habits to antisocial levels. If I’m somewhere I can’t follow the progress of the campaign, I’ve been pretending I need the loo so I can trawl live election updates. I think some of my colleagues are beginning to suspect I have irritable bowel syndrome. Something has to change, so this week I’m practicing some better self-care.
Some things I’ve been doing to tame my obsession with the election beast:
Aim for quality over quantity, consume less total but better content overall.
You’re not going to be able to escape the election entirely, but if you limit your browsing it will help. Stick with the sources you trust, fact check, and remember: be extra cautious if you stumble across something on social media.
Make an extra effort to escape and decompress.
Go for a walk, go to a gallery, take a book to bed instead of a phone or even listen to music or a podcast. Whatever it is, now is an important time to make space for leisure and be free from devices.
When you are using your phone to kill time (and we all do, let’s not kid ourselves), try to find something nourishing.
I’ve been watching a YouTube series called iHarmu where Jacob Collier, a crazy-talented 24-year-old, makes the most incredible short-songs by harmonising with 10-second clips people send him of themselves singing. It’s joyous, affirming, skillful, collaborative, and most importantly has nothing to do with the election. Check it out here.
Take some of the stress out of it.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed because you’re not sure how you want to vote yet, you’re not alone. It can be hard to cut through the BS and know which of the parties or candidates share your values. I’d give the ABC’s vote compass a go—it does a pretty great job of helping you prioritise what’s important to you and will give you an idea how a party’s values align with yours and where they don’t. It should take some of the push-and-pull out of the next few weeks, because election candidates will be saying some persuasive things to win your vote. Remember, what really matters is their policy, so see how the policies they put forward match up with what you want to see in the world.
An election squeezes things to a head. It compresses problems of great complexity into simple slogans and makes us feel as if voting for the ‘wrong’ candidate is the end of the world. It isn’t. Regardless of how the election goes, the world will keep spinning, and there will still be brilliant people working on making it a better and fairer place. Remember, we’re all in it together and we have far more in common than that which divides us.