A lot of the taking care of yourself while fighting for America recommendations out there say to go deep on one or two issues. Not because the other issues aren’t important, they are. But because you’ll get burned out if you try to focus on too much stuff. Better to pick an issue, join a specific-interest group, and do things for that issue.
We at grumpy rumblings have been recommending a different approach. We’ve been telling people that if you have 15 min a week, to sign up for one of the weekly mailing lists going around (see our activism tab) and just do what it says on that list for that week (if you agree with the items, etc.) We argue that doing this is a way to compartmentalize all the craziness and use your limited time and attention to make your voice heard. Someone else has done all the research, made decisions about what to focus on most immediately, and needs you to provide the power of your voice and beliefs. If you’ve got more time, you can subscribe to more lists or follow one of the twitter accounts that provides daily actions.
We don’t think that going deep is wrong either. We think both are needed. We need the people willing to go to meetings and do the initial research. We need people willing to aggregate across those different groups and figure out what is most timely. We need people to do the finger work to make calls across a wide variety of issues. And we need those people to not burn out.
So do whichever works best for you and whichever fits with your life and personality best.
I can’t focus on just one issue– there are too many. But I also get overwhelmed just looking at CNN. So… I’m letting @Wandsci, @ActionsUSA, and others do that reading and aggregating and figuring out who to call for me. And then I mostly do what I’m told. (I’ve also been doing weekly proofreading for one of the groups in my state and I’ve been keeping and adding to a list of progressive groups in our county which I then give to groups so they can connect with each other, and I’ve been helping people figure how to do the activism they want to do. So I guess you could say I’ve been going deep on networking. Even though I’m a total introvert.).
DH is currently drilling down on a project to protect immigrants because that’s what the local democratic party has decided to focus on and DH was willing to figure out who to talk to to get the the information they need to set up their own program in conjunction with an immigrant group. He’s also making weekly phone calls.
So no, I don’t think you have to go deep to avoid burnout unless that’s what you want to do. You probably can’t dive deep into every issue, but you can dive deep into one or two, or you can be an intermittent voice for a broad array of issues. Not burning out is important, but you don’t have to focus on only one thing to avoid it, you just can’t focus on everything.
How do you avoid burnout? Do you prefer broad or deep (or a little of both)? Do you think one is inherently better than the other, or does it depend on the person?