Chris and his wife from Fort Worth, Texas, delivered their baby boy. Hillary from Columbus logged onto her husband’s student loan account and found he had nothing to pay off. Andrea from Helsinki, Finland, got Beyonce tickets.
These are some of the best things that happened to listeners of NPR’s “It’s Been a Minute” podcast with Sam Sanders and are just some examples of good news that Sanders said can unite anyone — regardless of politics and news — during the current polarized state of the nation.
It’s no secret that the majority of news filling social media feeds is negative, which is why Sanders asks to hear the good, along with reporting on the not-so-good. He’s found that asking others to brag about themselves, their weeks or their loved ones is easy; everyone wants to talk about the good stuff that happens, and everyone listening can most likely relate to it.
The willingness of strangers to share such personal information is “a reminder in such crazy news cycles — like we forget that, regardless of what’s happening in Washington, D.C., we’re all still people just living lives,” Sanders said in an interview with The Lantern. “It’s OK to celebrate milestones in your life. Your life doesn’t stop because the administration changed. Your life doesn’t stop because of what he or she tweeted. Your life is still living.”
Sanders said it’s important for news consumers to take a step back every so often from the constant refreshing of Twitter, or constant updates in the New York Times, Washington Post or local papers, and just breathe.
The current era of political polarization and divisiveness is not new, he said, nor is it particularly different or distinct from previous history and administrations, specifically on issues of immigration, race and gender.
“Those aren’t new things. Maybe the medium is different with Twitter and the tone feels different because there’s such a distinct difference in the way that Donald Trump talks to America compared to Barack Obama, but these issues aren’t new. Border wall’s not new,” he said. “People forget that there’s already a wall, there’s already a fence, and Democrats before voted for it.
“Be mad, be happy, be whatever, but don’t be too surprised.”
To relax, unwind and perhaps do the impossible of forgetting about America’s current events, Sanders said people need to put smartphones away and log off Twitter. “It’s not the real world,” he said and repeated. “It’s not the real world.”
“If you live in a constantly refreshing state of social media, everything’s afire, everything’s a crisis and everything is burning all the time,” he said. “And that’s not actually true. That’s not true. Whether or not you read the tweet, you’re still living a life. Some days it’s OK to step away from the tweet and try to see the forest and not just every single tree.”
Sometimes, he said, when that forest is seen for what it is, not just the trees that make it up, finding commonalities across political ideologies can happen — without knowing it. Both sides of the political aisle might only see faults in the opposing side’s antics, but “even a broken clock is right twice a day,” he said, “and it’s important to remind ourselves that we all contain multitudes and stripping things back to some of the universal [experiences] that people share … I think that helps.”
Because, at the end of the day, after all stories are filed and all headlines are read, Chris and his wife from Fort Worth, Texas; Hillary from Columbus; Andrea from Helsinki, Finland; and students at Ohio State all can relate to any good news and joy that comes with it.
“None of this stuff is really foreign to anyone,” Sanders said. “All of the things that we go through, we kind of all go through: love and marriage and life milestones like jobs or graduations or dealing with ailing loved ones.”