Internet technology has advanced so rapidly that most social media sites now offer a variety of ways to keep in touch with friends and loved ones. While this can strengthen ties with those you love, it can also cause public panic and anxiety when negative news spreads within those sights. While moral panic is nothing new, the nature of social media sites often fans these flames. If you suffer from anxiety or want to avoid feeling panicked by what you read on Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat, there are a few strategies you can use to calm your heart and head.
- Maintain Perspective
It is likely that you see sad or upsetting news stories on your social media feed every day, even if these events are happening within a family you know instead of in the headlines. You may receive a link requesting donations for a friend of a friend who has cancer or someone posting about a missing child. While these stories may elicit emotions, it can be important to maintain perspective about how these events impact you directly. While you might allow yourself to feel sorrow or sympathy, try to detach with care and avoid dwelling on the unknown.
- Take Breaks
Social media can become overwhelming turning times of political or socio-economic strife, especially when everyone on your feed seems to be discussing the same topic and how it might impact them. If using the advanced muting options on Twitter do not reduce feelings of anxiety, then you might consider taking scheduled breaks from social media. Logging in a few times a day instead of having an app open constantly can help you remain calm in a time where feeling panicked can be common for most social media users.
- Ask Yourself Questions
Social media can change your perspective on almost any topic and cause you to believe events and quotes are true as you see them instead of fact-checking them first. This can be a common trend in politics, social matters, and medicine. However, before you react, you may want to ask yourself a few questions such as, “What is the source of this information? Who posted it and why? What am I feeling about this post?” Being self-aware about social media content and the motivation behind it can help you remain objective.
- Ferret Out Misinformation
Misinformation about a certain topic or news piece can increase panic on social media, especially if that untruth spreads faster than the correct information. This can cause anxiety and feelings of fear, but discovering the truth on your own can help. There are many useful resources online that provide verified information, such as government websites and independent news sources. It is important that you discover the truth about what you see on social media, especially since these forums are known for spreading panic-induced false information.
- Practice Social Media Self-Care
While social media sites can provide hours of entertainment and allow you to keep up with your favorite celebrities, it can become addictive, so remind yourself to practice self-care as you scroll. Remind yourself to read each post with a grain of salt; in other words, do not immediately believe everything you read or see. Fake media video posts are becoming more common and can seem quite realistic, so do not hesitate to question their validity if you are suspicious.
Another strategy for practicing self-care is to be aware of how much time you spend on social media per platform. For example, if you check your feeds in the morning, give yourself 15 to 20 minutes on each and then do something you enjoy, such as reading, biking, or taking the dog for a run. This can help you maintain good mental health.
It is all too easy to become embroiled in social media panic. Staying informed, limiting feed time, and being aware of your emotions regarding these platforms can help you remain calm.