Advice with the Arts Editor: Hopeless amidst frequent bad news


A student reads the newspaper in the Integrated Sciences Complex. Photo by Saichand Chowdary (He/Him) / Mass Media Contributor.

Rena Weafer, Arts Editor

Lately my Instagram feed has been plastered with headlines about anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, racist hate crimes and misogynistic politicians. I find myself getting severely overwhelmed with this constant stream of negative information, so much so that it’s causing an uptick in anxiety.

I know I’m not alone in this feeling. UMass Boston student Maureen Shea said, “The Willow Project makes me really nervous. It’s all very scary especially when it’s hard to have a say.” For those who don’t know, the Willow Project “is a massive and decadeslong oil drilling venture on Alaska’s North Slope in the National Petroleum Reserve, which is owned by the federal government,” as reported by CNN (1).

In simpler terms, the federal government is drilling oil near Indigenous reserves without letting locals have a say. This will cause devastating environmental impacts to the already threatened climate. Despite millions of signatures on a petition and the million letters that were sent to President Biden opposing the project, the Biden administration still gave it the go-ahead (1).

In a democracy, voters are supposed to have a say in what goes on in our country, but when the politicians we voted for go against their word, we feel stuck. We can try to make change by contacting these politicians, but they can ignore the feedback from their constituents.

Because of this I, and a lot of other voters, feel helpless. What can we do when nobody will listen? We have to be patient because change doesn’t happen overnight.

First, we must educate ourselves while we wait for the next election. This includes reading books, articles and newspapers like this one that cover various topics of importance. This includes sources from opposing viewpoints, which is actually most important—we have to know what we are up against. To fight these policies, we need to know them inside and out.

Research where our country is heading as well. Alt-right views have been on the rise since Donald Trump’s presidency, and they aren’t going away any time soon. We are now seeing these views take over mainstream politics and legislation, especially in southern states like Florida and Texas. “The Rise of the Alt-Right” by Thomas J. Main provides good insight into this concept.

Next, as much as it doesn’t seem to be helping, show up. Show up to protests, show up to hearings where you can directly speak to these politicians, and most importantly show up for the people that are actively discriminated against due to these hateful laws. They need our help and our support.

You can also research new and progressive candidates who are running in 2024 to make an informed decision on who you will vote for. Generation Z turned out in major and unexpected numbers for the 2022 election, and we can do it again for 2024. Tufts’ Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement said the youth voters made “this the midterm election with the second-highest youth voter turnout in almost three decades” (2).

We can make the change we want to see when we show up for these elections and cast educated votes. If this all seems overwhelming, it is. It’s a lot of pressure to be under at such a young age. First and foremost, you need to be taking care of yourself.

Take a break from social media when you need to and only read the news when you know that you are in the right headspace. If you ingest this information in small doses, it helps the overall feeling of hopelessness.

Also follow accounts on Instagram that post positive news stories like @somegoodnews. It’s helpful to see uplifting stories instead of the constant feed of negative information. After all, you can only do so much as one person, so don’t put so much pressure on yourself.