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How to keep the resistance going in 2018, even when you’re impossibly tired

I was listening to The Read recently — it’s my favorite podcast — and I was struck by co-host Kid Fury’s observations about reaching the end of the year and feeling tired. 

I posted how I felt on Instagram: “Can’t add one more plan tired. Hard to get excited about exciting things tired. Can’t project, assume, or read minds tired. I’m letting myself be tired, be imperfect, be how I am. It is time to hibernate and make meaning of this year, understand the lessons.”

Five hundred people gave it a heart within a few hours. People reached out to me to say they are also tired — exhausted, really. Falling out in meetings, losing things, fighting with loved ones, letting hopelessness have our tongues. 

I am a social justice facilitator, practicing and teaching a methodology called Emergent Strategy. The goal is to learn how we do justice work that is adaptive, focuses on the small things that make up all large systems, and prioritizes critical connections over critical mass. I am also a visionary fiction writer (part of the Octavia’s Brood team) and a pleasure activist, which means I believe pleasure is an important measure of freedom, and that we need to make justice the most pleasurable experience we can have. 

And, even as someone focused on ease, nature, future, and pleasure, 2017 was a daunting year. 

And, even as someone focused on ease, nature, future, and pleasure, 2017 was a daunting year. But I am still going. Movements for social and environmental justice are still moving forward. 

Which gets me curious about how we are surviving, how we are generating energy to move forward in 2018 when everything is heavy and everything hurts. 

What do we do? 

The first thing is to give ourselves lots of room and respect for whatever we have done. It got us this far. So, shout outs to alcohol, sugar, sex, and weed, which have been doing the work of comforting and numbing millions. After the 2016 election, drinking definitely became one of my coping mechanisms for that “They all want my death” feeling that has become daily life. 

I know the newness of feeling this every day is as much an indication of my privilege as it is of political change; things aren’t getting worse, they are getting unveiled. Whatever I didn’t see before this moment is a sign that I was somehow benefiting from not seeing it. It feels worse nonetheless. 

But we need to be careful about numbing. The long-term impacts of numbing move us away from the very aliveness we are fighting for, that erotic level of presence, alertness, and feeling our miraculous existence in real time. Audre Lorde taught us that, “In touch with the erotic, I become less willing to accept powerlessness, or those other supplied states of being which are not native to me, such as resignation, despair, self-effacement, depression, self-denial.”  

I wanted to offer some strategies beyond numbing that have helped me protect my aliveness. I invite you to practice these throughout 2018.

1. Reconnect with our movement ancestors. We are not the first to be in impossible conditions. And what we know is that we have survived, that our ancestors found ways to survive, to be in dignity and resistance. Focus on ancestors of your own lineage, knowing that every lineage on earth has individuals and groups who have left lessons behind. For me this year has been lit by the north star of Harriet Tubman. You might call on freedom fighters like Berta Cáceres or Bobby Sands — there are so many who inspire. Ancestors can and should humble us. 

2. Tune in to the three Gs every day: gratitude, good news, and genius. If you look, all three are within reach.

a) Start and/or end the day with gratitude. It’s a gorgeous world; pay attention to the beauty, the connection, the generosity and growth.

b) Read between the lines and find the good news. It’s always there, but it might be very small. For me, it’s often in the news of what movements for social and environmental justice are doing to resist. Boost it, grow it with your attention.

c) Our continued survival is actually a long, iterative practice of collective genius. Pay attention to the people and organizations who are doing more than reacting to the daily news or pulling each other down. Tune into the work of the Movement for Black Lives, the Women’s March, #MeToo, Cooperation Jackson, Movement Generation, #ourpowerpr, Mi Gente. These initiatives are attempting audacious, visionary, and difficult work that relies on the genius that arises from people working together across difference to address the challenges and opportunities of their real lives.

3. That thing about putting on your oxygen mask before helping others? It’s real. It’s not like other masks that hide your true face from others, which is an important distinction here. You don’t need to put anything over your truth right now to cover the emotional rollercoaster of being a human who is paying attention. But you do need to take care of yourself at a material level. Soothe without numbing, rest without guilt, hydrate to replenish your foundation, and use your body while there is still miracle in it. Hibernate: turn inward, get still, write down what you have learned from surviving the last year as well as what has been liberated within you, and what you are ready to grow. 

4. And I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t remind y’all that an orgasm a day keeps the doctor away. Remember that your body is literally wired to feel good, thread with nerves that communicate pleasure and let you know what to move toward. And you can choose between the orgasm and the orgasmic — do a massage exchange with friends, eat delicious home-cooked meals, watch comedy shows. There are so many ways to turn up your aliveness.

None of these practices are small or trite. We are in the worst of times right now. If you need to be convinced to care for your body, mind, and spirit so that you can care for your community and this planet, let’s just review the past 12 months. 

There was a period of denial and grief for many of us. Perhaps you also spent some time under a blanket, wondering why our species is so self-sabotaging and embarrassing? Maybe you too called friends to discuss where you could run to, and realized, again, that there was no place far enough, no place beyond the reach of the United States?

Those of us with an intersectional analysis of our current situation know that every uphill battle we’ve been fighting is at least twice as steep. We are looking ahead at battles around the tax plan, net neutrality, protecting the planet as a livable planet for our species, resisting a police force encouraged to unleash increased violence on our devastated vulnerable communities. All while watching 45 play nuclear roulette with North Korea on Twitter.

For those of us working to create social change, 2017 was a wild year. We take our whiplashed necks and try to keep up the pace as we run from protest to petition to planning meeting. We have held some lines, we have shown up and said no to racist bans and efforts to strip us of hard-won rights, and we have reached for each other. We’ve been surprised and excited as scientists marched and national parks workers used Twitter to resist fascist policy making.

And, in our exhaustion, we have sometimes turned on each other. Interpersonal beef drains organizational resources. Tactical differences become landmines. Places where we could learn together instead become battlegrounds that play out on social media. We long for something different but are stretched too thin to practice new approaches. We want each other to be perfect and to be transparent about our flaws. We are punitive and transformative in the same breath. 

We are in a fight for our survival and there’s no turning away from it, no turning back. 2017 was a reckoning, an unveiling. An embarrassment, yes, but it’s honest. And now we are at a very real risk of becoming too exhausted to continue our fight, our journey. 

Ella Baker taught us that “we who believe in freedom cannot rest.” 

Ella Baker taught us that “we who believe in freedom cannot rest.” I wrestle with these words all the time, because I believe in freedom, and I believe my body is a crucial part of the fight for freedom. So I interpret these words through my work. I do not rest in terms of how I work. I tirelessly show up for movements I believe in, to hold planned or unexpected hard conversations and mediations, to invite transformation in the face of frustration. I tirelessly seek out old and new ways of moving through our current paradigm and into a viable future. 

But when it comes to my body, I rest. I rest in myriad ways that allow me to show up fully for each facilitation. I ensure that I have quiet time each evening, a bath when there’s a tub, at least seven hours of sleep each night. I want to give us more permission to rest our bodies so that we don’t burn out our spirits and minds in our lifelong commitment to liberation.

It is in that spirit that I invite you to honor your ancestors and remember that they believed in you before your first breath. They believed you could generate gratitude, uplift good news, contribute to genius. Put on your oxygen mask and open to the pleasurable experiences of life. This is our moment to shape.

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Twitter says Trump’s nuclear button tweet doesn’t violate its rules against abusive behavior

Oh nothing, just a thinly-veiled threat of nuclear war.
Oh nothing, just a thinly-veiled threat of nuclear war.

Image: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

The president of the United States possibly made another threat of nuclear war on Twitter, but the company doesn’t seem to think the post breaks any of its rules.

Donald Trump boasted on Twitter about how his nuclear button was bigger than North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s, and people are calling (again) for the president to be banned from the platform.

On Tuesday, Trump tweeted a fully loaded response to the North Korean leader, who mentioned in his annual address a nuclear button on his desk, capable of hitting the United States.

“This is reality, not a threat,” Kim Jong Un said.

Trump responded, “I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

Folks on Twitter are asking the platform whether this violates its policy against violent threats. 

But in an automated response to several people reporting the tweet, Twitter says Trump’s message represents “no violation of the Twitter Rules against abusive behavior.”

Twitter confirmed to Mashable that “this Tweet did not violate our terms of service,” referencing the Twitter Rules against violent threats and glorification of violence.

“You may not make specific threats of violence or wish for the serious physical harm, death, or disease of an individual or group of people,” the rules state.

“Please note that wishing or hoping that someone experiences serious physical harm, making vague threats, or threatening less serious forms of physical harm would not fall under this specific policy. Instead, we may review and take action against that content under our abusive behavior and hateful conduct policies.”

CNN’s Brian Stelter, who said during a broadcast that he asked Twitter officials if Trump’s tweet might violate the platform’s terms of service, was directly lambasted by Trump’s director of social media, Dan Scavino Jr.

Stelter also asked during a CNN broadcast whether other world leaders would be given the same pass:

Why doesn’t Twitter ban Trump? In September, the social platform said that it takes into account “newsworthiness” when deciding whether or not a tweet violates the company’s conduct policy.

Twitter’s spokesperson issued this statement after Trump tweeted an earlier threat against North Korea. (Sensing a theme, here.) The North Korean government claimed the tweet was a “clear declaration of war.” 

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Team Trump tried to diss Obama in its website code, but couldn’t even get that right

Got him good!
Got him good!

Image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump, has tried, and failed, at many things over the course of his questionable career. From Trump University to Trump Steaks, the man who would be king seems to repeatedly stumble into avoidable morass after morass despite his promises to only surround himself with “the best people.”

But if there was one thing he was supposed to be good at, it was insults. Little Marco, low-energy Jeb, Rocket Man — all trash bon mots tailor-made for the reality-TV era. It would seem, however, that the hater-in-chief’s team can’t quite translate his petulance to the digital realm. 

This was made all too clear this week when a reporter for the Washington Post noted a line of code hidden in GOP.com, a Republican National Committee website, running a year-end pro-Trumppoll.”

“The website of Donald Trump,” wrote Christopher Ingraham, “who has spent several days in a row at the golf course, is coded to serve up the following message in the event of an internal server error.”

That message? “Oops! Something went wrong. Unlike Obama, we are working to fix the problem… and not on the golf course.”

There’s just one problem (other than the terrible attempt at humor): the code on the website is written in such a way as to never actually display the message. 

That’s right, #TeamTrump can’t even manage to talk shit without tripping over its own shoe laces. Which, well, at this point is pretty much par for the Trump National Golf Club course.

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The White House website redesign makes it — surprise! — even less transparent

The White House revamped its website Friday, and its new look proves it’s possible for the Trump administration to make things even more opaque.

The White House website is where the public comes to watch live videos of the president and press briefings, as well as access media statements and position papers. But the new design makes all that difficult to do.

The previous iteration of the site wasn’t anything amazing, but it was at least navigable. 

Website visitors quickly noticed that live videos were hard to find and topics Trump likes talking about, such as the economy, are on display, making it feel more like propaganda material than a public resource.

Overall, site visitors weren’t impressed.

It seems the new site is all about search, which keeps things out of view until they’re explicitly looked up, like climate. A few big issues top the page: “Economy,” “National Security,” “Budget,” “Immigration,” and “Healthcare,” but if you want anything on, say, climate change, you’ll have to search. Sure, those pointing to the redesign as another way for Trump to hide stuff may be verging a bit into conspiracy territory, but the Trump administration has a record of doing away with unwanted information.

Here’s what the White House homepage looked like just a day ago, left, and then today, right. 

Old website

Old website

New website

New website

No matter the intention behind the layout change, it’s not easy to find information, despite the White House spinning the redesign as a good thing.

“The old site was a good temporary measure that allowed us to use what the previous administration had built, but it wasn’t where it needed to be in terms of providing people with content they can easily access,” a White House official told the Washington Examiner.

The previous site wasn’t an open book by any means, but the different drop down menus made it somewhat easier to navigate to a certain topic. Now everything is hidden.

As a journalist, the since-deleted “Briefing Room” menu is a huge loss. To find live coverage on the site now requires a confusing maze of clicks starting with the subtle top left-hand corner “hamburger” icon. Once there, click “About the White House” and on that landing page head to the bottom footer where a small font says “Live.” 

That was easy -- not.

That was easy — not.

At least the over-simplified site will be cheaper to maintain and secure. A White House official told the Washington Examiner that the new site will save roughly $3 million per year. 

All that cost-cutting might sound good, but people are still asking, where’s the Spanish-language version of the site that Trump axed in January? Sorry, that page does not exist.

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Y Combinator’s Sam Altman wishes San Francisco was more open-minded, like China

Sam Altman is a Silicon Valley kingmaker. Sam Altman is rich. Sam Altman wears cargo shorts. Sam Altman is awful. 

As president of Y Combinator, an internationally renowned startup accelerator based in Mountain View, California, the 32-year-old has an outsized influence on the world of tech. The seed money his company doles out has both life-changing effects on its recipients and the potential to reshape entire industries

And if Altman’s latest blog post is any indication, this has all very much gone to his head. 

Titled “E Pur Si Muove” in a transparent attempt to position himself as a righteous contrarian speaking truth to power à la Galileo Galilei, Altman explains in the post how toxic censorship has supposedly crushed intellectual dissent in San Francisco. You see, according to the 2015 Forbes 30-under-30 luminary, daring to disagree even in the slightest with the politically correct monsters that run this town is now enough to get you driven out of it. 

“[Smart] people tend to have an allergic reaction to the restriction of ideas, and I’m now seeing many of the smartest people I know move elsewhere,” writes the two-popped-collar-wearing wunderkind. “It is bad for all of us when people can’t say that the world is a sphere, that evolution is real, or that the sun is at the center of the solar system.”

That’s right, in San Francisco it is heresy to say the world is a sphere. 

This is not the first time Altman has aligned himself with a very specific type of contrarian.

Things have gotten so bad, Altman insists, that the admittedly repressive China is starting to look rosier than the closed-minded orthodoxy found in the City by the Bay. 

“Earlier this year, I noticed something in China that really surprised me,” he explains. “I realized I felt more comfortable discussing controversial ideas in Beijing than in San Francisco. I didn’t feel completely comfortable—this was China, after all—just more comfortable than at home.”

And just what, exactly, are these ideas that San Franciscans are shouting down? Oh, just ya know, little old things like homophobic slurs. 

“This is uncomfortable, but it’s possible we have to allow people to say disparaging things about gay people if we want them to be able to say novel things about physics,” Altman, who is himself gay, notes. “Of course we can and should say that ideas are mistaken, but we can’t just call the person a heretic. We need to debate the actual idea.”

What Altman is saying, of course, is a total bullshit straw-man cop out. We already do allow people to say disparaging things about queer people. And, sadly, plenty of them do. But, Altman insists, the closed-minded PC police of San Francisco don’t tolerate that kind of thinking! And, as a result, bigoted homophobes can’t share their ideas about physics!

But it’s not just the future of physics that’s at stake, according to Altman. Won’t anyone think of the cryptocurrency?

“I don’t know who [Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto] is, but I’m skeptical that he, she, or they would have been able to come up with the idea for bitcoin immersed in the current culture of San Francisco—it would have seemed too crazy and too dangerous, with too many ways to go wrong.” 

That’s right, society must tolerate people spewing slurs in case those same people are all secretly working on the next groundbreaking cryptocurrency. 

This is not the first time Altman has aligned himself with a very specific type of contrarian. During the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election he went on a tweetstorm defending the decision to keep vocal Donald Trump-backer Peter Thiel on as a part-time Y Combinator partner. Thiel, you’ll remember, has publicly lamented the enfranchisement of women, hates the free press, and isn’t so sure climate change is real. 

Those ties were quietly cut last month to little fanfare, but not before Altman had demonstrated himself as someone willing to do business with a possible aspiring vampire — as long as it served his interests. 

And so, perversely, maybe Altman’s post does reveal a truth — albeit an unintended one. That truth, of course, being that despite all the money, all the blog posts, all the influence, and all the cargo shorts, Sam Altman is still awful.  

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