Cheeky Guide: becoming more politically engaged
Updated: Feb 1, 2021
After moving out of my college dorm at the beginning of 2019 I quickly realised that I had fallen completely out of touch with the politics and the events of the world around me. An absolute measure and reflection of my privilege, I was deeply repulsed by my ignorance and the time and personal growth I had lost – energy I had instead allocated to getting drunk and feeling sorry for myself. I hadn’t sat in front of a television to watch a news program in two years, my only engagement came in the form of Facebook engagement announcements from my hometown, my Instagram was also a deep pit of influencer misery. I voted Greens in elections simply because I wanted to announce myself as progressive, not because I had actually reviewed, researched or consumed a single campaign or policy document. I was unabashedly virtue signalling in every attempt at activism.
At a personal level, I no longer accept disengagement as a form of ‘self-care’, I do not accept ignorance as ‘survival’. Because it isn’t. Ignoring the events, traumas and crises of the world around me is a reflection of my privilege, not having to bear the burden of bigotry, tragedy or suffering. Over the past six months, I have consumed more news than I had in the entirety of my life. Although I don't recommend this course of action for everyone, it has left me feeling more engaged, motivated, passionate and productive than ever before.
Note: These recommendations are mostly services which cost $$$, I completely understand this is not an available avenue for everyone.
Read news from multiple sources
If you can, try a subscription to a high quality news outlet. My student subscription to the New York Times costs a whopping $1 a fortnight. As part of that digital subscription, I have personally subscribed to three newsletters: The Morning, an update on the most important world news events which reaches my email inbox at 5.29 AM each and every day like clockwork. My next subscription is a personal favourite, The Great Read. Every weekday I am emailed an exceptional piece of writing, usually a narrative or an essay, The Great Read defines my morning commute and I would not have it any other way. Finally, Morning Briefing: Australia Edition, a pretty self-explanatory final subscription to the most important events in the country. I spend more on coffee in one week than I do on my annual subscription to the New York Times. Subscribing to two news outlets, if that’s a possibility for you financially, is the best way to ensure alternate perspectives and offerings of information. I won’t be preaching which news outlets to send your bucks to, but, I would recommend exploring what is left outside of Murdoch’s monopoly.
If a subscription is out of the question, gear your social media accounts to follow multiple news outlets. You will be able to read between five and ten articles per site, per month for free. It's always great to fact check sites against each other, so liking multiple pages and consuming different streams of content provides subconscious critical reflection and the development of individual opinion against this reporting. This skill is invaluable.
Follow a new, informative instagram account every. single. day.
In terms of digestible, prominent news content designed for young people, follow @shityoushouldcareabout. If you want to work on your internalised misogyny, follow Abbie Chatfield. Looking to be more sex positive? Try the Australian Sexologist, Naomi Hutchings.
It's also great to follow some accounts with digestible news content, it means reducing your subscription costs and getting the news delivered to you more consistently.
@thedailyaus is a great example of accessible news bites.
Podcasts are an invaluable resource for those who are busy AND those who blatantly hate reading. For all multi-taskers out there who are seeking something outside of the absolute rubbish on Sunrise or A Current Affair, podcasts are the way to go.
7am, by Schwartz Media
The Briefing, with Tom Tilley
The Daily, by the New York Times
Global News Podcast, from BBC World Service
Know your candidates
I know, I know, local members and candidates seem (and sometimes are) wicked boring. I'm not asking you to check up on them each and every day, go out for coffee and knit scarves together. What is manageable, however, is a ten minute Google search of each individual on the ballot, a few weeks out from an election. Simply understanding the field, the policies and the potential execution of these goals is more than most Australian's do prior to numbering the ballot. I've now gone as far as following more than ten candidates on their professional Instagram and LinkedIn accounts, because I have too much time on my hands and like to see these individuals in action campaigning, facing a win or loss and evaluating whether they have pulled through on their promises. It's not the most exciting content on my feed, but it's valuable nonetheless.