How often do you open Instagram or Facebook, just to see something that stirs up feelings of anger, sadness, or disappointment? Do you ever see content that feels traumatizing, seems untrue, evokes a feeling of immediate danger, or invalidates identities or experiences that feel personal to you?
With everything going on in the world right now, it seems rather inevitable that you will stumble across media content that has the potential to overwhelm and ignite negative feelings within. Unfortunately, it can often be very hard to avoid seeing harmful content, especially when you have a high desire to stay updated on current events.
With that being said, here are ways to manage dealing with coming upon such content, and ways to regulate the content that you are consuming regularly
1. Monitor the accounts you follow.
One easy way to monitor the content you consume is to be conscious of the individuals you associate with (or follow) on social media. If you have a peer who consistently shares content that disturbs you, perhaps consider muting, unfollowing, or unfriending them.
Additionally, if you feel comfortable doing so, it may be worth it to have a conversation with that person about the content that they are sharing, and why it can be damaging and degrading to yourself and others.
2. Try reading the news first.
By allowing yourself access to a trusted news source first, you might have more of a warning as to what you will be stepping into when you access your social media.
In many cases, news sources will provide warnings of disturbing content, a feature that social media doesn’t always offer.
Qualified news sources may also provide more accurate and factual information. This may be an effective way around seeing content that may be detrimental to your mental health.
3. Put your phone away.
Similar to the last tip, this one can be great if you just need a break from content overall. According to a 2017 study, even just the presence of your cell phone may affect your mental capacity. Thus, it is safe to assume that putting away your phone might help increase your general wellness, as your mind becomes free to focus on other tasks and activities.
Furthermore, this time away from the screen may give you the space and the mental capacity to digest any content that you have recently seen. Allowing yourself room to process this media could be an effective way of managing the negative emotions that it has stirred up.
4. Listen to yourself.
All in all, it is critical that you make sure you’re paying attention to your mental health. While it is important to stay up to date with the events of the world around you, it is also equally as important that you are taking care of yourself and your needs.
For me, calling up a friend and speaking about recent events can feel more productive in sorting through the information and corresponding emotions than continuing to expose myself to upsetting media.
There is undoubtably a world of content that can be damaging and upsetting to anyone who has access to online media. While there is no fool-proof way to stay safe on the Internet, I hope that these methods can be helpful to you.