Weekly Wrap-up | June 7, 2020

Happy Sunday everyone! Or at least I hope it is where you are. The news has been so distressing lately that I’m finding it hard to concentrate again, either on studying or reading. For one, I’m saddened and angered by news of the Floyd protests. While we here at the Philippines can never truly grasp the extent of systemic racism and violence committed against African Americans, I am still firmly against police brutality. I hope to support the protests in spirit by reading more works by black authors this month.

In other news, our congress has just passed an Anti-Terrorism Bill. This bill is alarming because it employs an overly broad and imprecise definition of terrorism, under which people who voice dissent against the government can be detained without a warrant for up to 24 days. The government can also essentially spy on suspected terrorists under this bill. When people started protesting this, a number of fake accounts of the protestors against the bill suddenly appeared on Facebook. These accounts may be used to spread misinformation and cause harm to the protestors, some of whom are my friends.

We’re all petitioning to junk the bill and pleading with the government to prioritize more urgent issues like mass testing instead. Still, many of us are shaken by this news. This bill, along with the shutdown of one of our major news companies, is reminiscent of the martial law declared by the Marcos dictatorship in the 1970s. During Martial Law, free speech was curtailed and thousands of activists were incarcerated and killed for voicing dissent against the Marcos administration. Hopefully it doesn’t get to that point, but the government’s actions are awakening collective feelings of fear and anger right now.

So it’s been a rather heavy week. I hope you’ll keep us in your thoughts.

Anyway, on to some bookish updates. While I haven’t been able to read much, reading (and playing the piano) really helped keep me sane this week.


Posts This Week


Books I Finished This Week

Home Fire

  • I picked Home Fire up for my #ReadingWomen challenge, and it’s proven to be a timely read, especially with the theme of a citizen going against state authority. Hopefully I can review this by the end of the month.

Books I’m Currently Reading

 

  • I’m kind of bummed that it’s taking me awhile to finish O’Connor’s Complete Stories, In the Woods, and Far from the Madding Crowd, since I don’t usually let books sit on my currently-reading shelf for this long, but times are weird now so I’m learning to be okay with it.
  • I’ve read Smith’s The Power of Meaning years ago, and since I suffered from a mini-existential crisis this week, I thought I’d give it a reread.
  • I picked up Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun this week for both my #ReadingWomen challenge and to support black authors. I’ve previously read and loved Americanah, another work by Adichie, so I feel like I’ll also love this one.

I’d like to ask you all for some advice on how to consume the news. I am not very active on social media, and I make it a point to limit my news consumption because I also have a limited ability to cope with the anxiety and overwhelm of the news cycle. Usually, family and friends just update me on what’s happening with the world.

However, I was wondering if it were possible to be more constructive about how I approach and consume the news. Is there a way of consuming news ‘wisely’? How do you cope with the unending cycle of bad news? One of my problems is that I tend to avoid the news also because I feel helpless to change things. Even if I donate or sign petitions, I have this nagging voice in my mind saying that such small actions don’t really contribute much. Another reason I also shy away from the news is because it usually lacks a coherent narrative—there are just so many floating, disjointed fragments and points of view, and I don’t know how to put it together. (This is why I prefer the coherence of books, whether fiction or nonfiction.)

Anyway, I would like to work towards becoming a more involved citizen, so I’d really love to hear your thoughts on this. Let me know in the comments. 🙂

20 thoughts on “Weekly Wrap-up | June 7, 2020

  1. Oh goodness, I’m so sorry to hear about the anti-terrorism bill in Philippines – I seriously hope that gets junked. I’m glad you’ve been able to read and play piano as a means of self-care. 💕 It’s important always, but especially during overwhelming times like these!

  2. Literary Elephant

    Ah, I’m sorry to hear about things getting worse in the Philippines! The anti-terrorism bill and shutdown of that news agency happening at the same time sounds very concerning- I hope the government will listen to the protestors! I hope that will happen in the US as well, the news truly has been disturbing lately. I feel similarly about not doing enough with small actions, though I think that enough people doing those small things can make a big difference. It is hard to find a personal balance though.

    For me, the best method I’ve had for news consumption is to look at the same topic being covered from multiple sources, so you can see if any of the reports are being politically skewed, and which way. By reading different approaches I think it’s easier to find similarities between them to pinpoint what’s known factually, to get past personal opinions / political allegiances and form our own thoughts. I think it can also be beneficial to read or at least skim from sources we disagree with politically, to understand how the other side is reaching their conclusions and how their stance may be affecting the way they write about events. As far as how to do any of that without becomming emotionally distraught, I have no advice unfortunately- it’s been a hell of a week. I’m glad reading and piano are helping you, and I hope next week will be better for everyone!

    1. Yes, it’s very chilling. Our presidents are very similar so it’s been so chaotic lately for both our countries in different ways, but I hope there will be people in the government who will step up.

      Thanks for your detailed response on reading the news! I like what you said about reading dissenting opinions—I don’t think I do that often enough, so often my opinions are formed after those of the ‘liberal’ majority. I’ll try it out and see if I can strike a good balance. Ah yes, it’s just been so distressing lately. I hope we all get through this!!!

  3. I’m finding it hard to focus this past week too. As if Covid and our new normal isn’t enough for us to take. This is just too much. But hopefully, we win against the anti-terror bill. We don’t need that. Martial Law was devastating. It was a tragic part of our history. And we already saw the brutality that the ones in power can do during Duterte’s drug war…we can’t have it.

    1. I’m relieved I’m not the only one. It’s been absolutely terrible for our country. Yes, the drug war was already horrific, and now this… it’s really chilling how close it feels to Martial Law. I’m a little hopeful, though, since the petition seems to be gaining ground online. Let’s see how it plays out this week—hoping it’ll be better. 😦

  4. I’m so sorry to hear about the continuing political situation in the Philippines – I’ve signed the petition you linked against the anti-terrorism bill. I’m also struggling with domestic (UK for me) and global news at the moment and am trying to have substantial periods of time when I don’t look at social media or news sites. I think it’s better to have focused time when I do things to try and contribute and then time off rather than trying to take it all in all the time.

    More positively, I loved Home Fire!

    1. Thanks so much, Laura, that truly means a lot! I like how you put it, having a focused time to do things and contribute and then time off—it really sounds like a balance between action and taking care of one’s mental health. Thanks for the suggestion!

      And yes, Home Fire was fantastic! I wasn’t able to focus much but I sped through it in two sittings.

  5. I also really struggle with managing my news consumption. I go through phases where I read a lot, and then I get completely overwhelmed and cut myself off completely. I have a hard time striking a balance. I think the best way (which I do not really succeed at doing) is to find a trustworthy resource for local news (or maybe two, each with a slightly different bias). As someone who used to work in advocacy, I can tell you that the donations and the petitions and the letters add up faster and make a bigger difference at the local level – my city council representative cares a lot more about my opinion than my member of Congress, and frequently can have a bigger impact on my day to day life – so following local news more closely can also allow you to be a more effective agent of change. With that said, the anti-Terrorism bill in the Philippines sounds super scary, so keep yourself safe.

    1. I feel like that cycle describes me as well. I’ll try what you suggested—being more choosy about news sources will definitely help with the overwhelm I feel when I get on social media. And thank you for sharing that! I’ll keep that in mind when supporting advocacies. I think I need to reframe the idea that small things don’t help or add up to anything. Thanks, I will 🙂

  6. I love Adichie’s work; Half of a Yellow Sun is a hard but good work.

    I’m sorry about the political upheaval and corruption the Philippines is going through. My parents actually lived in the Philippines in the early 80s, before I was born so I grew up hearing about Marcos (my mom wrote the date of his exile in my baby book!) and it’s awful to think of your country going through that again.

    As for media/news consumption…that’s something I’m still figuring out too. Right now I am trying to limit my news reading to certain times of the day and on Sundays I stay completely off-line. But it’s hard to know how to respond. I try and take action within my own town but then I hear about awful things around the world and feel like it’s not enough.

    1. (Sorry for the late response!) Wow, it’s so nice to meet someone else who also knows about Marcos! I’m sorry your parents had to witness Martial Law, though, but thank God neither of us were alive back then. I really hope our country doesn’t regress into that again. Man, I tried getting back on the news cycle and just became quite overwhelmed… It’s a good idea to limit consumption instead and I guess hope that small actions are enough. 🙂

      1. Hopefully the world and the Philippines has moved on far enough to not go back to where we were in the 80s. I’ve basically limited my media consumption to two news sites and I make quick checks every couple of days. I too hope small actions can have a larger affect and I think they can.

  7. I understand how you feel. Anti-terror has become an excuse for mass surveillance all over the world and its a very concerning issue. I am reading Adichie too – I agree with the comment that it’s a tough read but very well written.

  8. In-depth news doesn’t really exist unless it’s a special. NPR does a good job, though. Any article that can be read in a minute or two is not in-depth and may just give you the pertinent details, which can cause anxiety because there’s no discussion or explanation around what you’ve just read. Head lines can be scary, too. But, it depends on what suits you. My husband likes to skim headlines on Google News so he gets a jist. I like to read in-depth stories, which give him anxiety because it’s too much information. For me, headlines are often times scary just so you click on them, and I don’t feel informed. It’s also a good idea to only look at the news at certain times. I watch CBS while I eat breakfast and dinner, but that’s it. It’s the same theory why notifications on cell phones are so bad. They pull us out of reality every time they go off, and we’re actually more productive if we turn off our notifications and only engage with our phones during a block of time.

    1. Man, I am just seeing this comment now and it’s been 20 DAYS WHAT! Sorry about that! I find it interesting that your husband gets anxiety from in-depth stories because it’s too much info, because I find I’m more similar to you. I tried listening to NPR’s Up Next podcast recently, but the reporting is still too bite-sized for me. I prefer NYT’s The Daily, but even then I don’t listen to ALL the episodes, just the ones I’m interested in listening to. Hmm, you know I’ve never actually watched the news in awhile, since I just get it from my phone. Maybe I can try watching instead, since news on TV usually has a designated time slot, whereas if I look through it on my phone, before I know it, I’ve already wasted two hours scrolling.

      1. Yes! News online can go on forever (and they want it to for advertising), whereas the local news stations often have designated times and then you’re done. The forever-scroll is real.

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