Welcome again to Remotely Answered! This month we’ll be talking about how to stay informed and what Halloween will look like this black, curséd year — there’s something particularly scary about it landing a mere three days before November 3rd.
My brain feels like it did a few weekends ago when He Who Must Not Be Named caught you know what. I was refreshing and doomscrolling and refreshing for 72 hours straight. And now I’m resigned to (at least) a month-long purgatory: refresh, doomscroll, repeat. It’s a not-so-funhouse of real-life horrors where our political figures don’t not look like warped clowns wearing funny makeup, too-big suits, and too-long ties.
Onto reader questions! The first comes from a Beehive reader in Morgan, Utah:
Q: How can I stay politically informed while keeping up with other responsibilities?
No one can be good at or know everything. Just look at Mitch McConnell — a bag of squeaky cheese who’s been a senator for longer than I’ve been on God’s green earth. Sure, he might be an expert at pushing through unpopular legislation, but from where I stand, he has the interpersonal skills of a box turtle (and the approval rating to back it up).
And lest you think I’m being mean — as a former Kentuckian, I am allowed to comment on Mitch McConnell’s appearance/ineptitude and Hillbilly Elegy’s stupid Netflix trailer. (Many eyerolls for J.D. Vance.)
I digress! The point is, you can’t have it all. Something’s gotta give.
As a working mom of three little kids, I simply do not have the time to read every publication and their varying degrees of political lean. However, I do think it’s possible to be a well-rounded generalist when it comes to politics and media literacy.
What’s worked best for me is listening to a few different short politics podcasts so I can multitask. I can listen while picking up, making sandwiches for small humans, and driving in the car. This works well because these podcasts are mostly kid-friendly. I learned my lesson about kid-friendly podcasts several years ago when my oldest daughter was two or three. I was deep into a NSFW Game of Thrones podcast and I didn’t think she was paying attention until she started naming all her stuffed animals “Arya.”
For the most bang for my buck, I particularly like The NPR Politics Podcast and FiveThirtyEight’s Politics Podcast; for more narrative I go to On the Media. I also make it a habit to leave NPR tuned in on the car radio. These are more left-leaning viewpoints, but there are many media bias charts where you can find where various outlets fall on the political spectrum. I follow the Wall Street Journal on Twitter so I can get some of the more conservative headlines and talking points.
My goal is to digest the most reliable sources and information in the least amount of time. I do scroll Twitter most mornings and nights, where I follow high-qual publications and journalists I trust (and enjoy reading). I don’t think staying politically informed needs to be a slog. Follow who you like and respect — AOC recommended this via an Instagram Live.
Sometimes we don’t have the bandwidth to be as informed as we would want to be, or others think we should be. Although, I think it’s important to remember that “not being political” can be a signal of privilege. The most important thing we can do is vote for the people and policies that will have the most positive impact for the most disadvantaged members of our communities.
Our second reader-submitted question is what everyone is thinking:
Q: HOW can we celebrate Halloween this year?
I have a friend who has a theory — there’s three tiers of friendship that correlate with the things you know about a person. For example, a Tier I fact about me is that I went to BYU. A Tier II fact about me is that I am not a Halloween adult. I’m just not.
Halloween adults are not unlike Disney adults — the commitment to the institution gives me pause. I love a holiday, I love a day at Disneyland (RIP), but I’m just not that into it. As for a Tier III fact? Well I don’t know you people like that yet.
Yeah sure, I’ve hit up Target to grab a few decorations, but I do not dress up. That is way too much work/$$ for a couple hours and a photo op. You know in Hocus Pocus when all the adults are in costume and taking it way more seriously than Max, Dani, and Allison? That always freaked me out. The spookiest part of that whole movie was how much the adults wanted to be someone else. It totally threw off my sense of the world and how adults fit into it.
I like to see Halloween through the lens of my kids, who sweetly know I will wait until the last minute to half-heartedly carve some pumps with them. My carving is limited to faces I can make with three- and four-sided shapes. Maybe a circle here and there.
This year our kids are dressing up and we’ll do a trunk-or-treat with some friends. We may do trick-or-treating on Halloween at some predetermined homes. How and if cities are choosing to trick-or-treat will depend on where you live, but we’re going to set up some simple things beforehand so we have a plan and no one ends up disappointed. I want to communicate proper (below-par) expectations to my kids.
Lean into other autumnal activities like pumpkin patches, apple orchards, places where you can safely socially distance and avoid the ambiguity of Halloween on October 31st, or the sense of loss that comes from another wonky holiday this year. In my family, we celebrate Día de los Muertos on November 2nd because my husband is from Mexico, and I fully support anyone who wants to add a Día de Muertos celebration to their fall festivities.
Last year we had a celebration with a few close friends. Everyone brought something from an ancestor or a loved one who had passed to place on a simple ofrenda. We ate some Mexican food, shared memories, and the kids watched Coco. We’ll do this again this year outside with a small group. Just a few days after Halloween proper, you can loop this into your celebration. Our kids love having another holiday to look forward to.
There’s a whole bunch of ways you can safely celebrate Halloween and fall without contributing to the truly spooky-scary Covid case counts that keep on climbing. Wear a mask (there’s no better time), stay six-feet apart, or party with your pod. As for me? I’ll be pretending to enjoy the season while I refresh and doomscroll my way through pre-November 3rd purgatory.
Submit your questions for November’s Remotely Answered via Twitter @thebeehiveHQ, or hit me up directly @lindsey_nope. You can send in your questions by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Design: Joshua Fowlke) (Editor: Rachel Swan)