Things I’ve (not) learned: Coping with news and social media

I really need to stop reading the news.

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I need to stop reading the news.

It’s a thought I’d been toying with for a while but in the last couple of months it became obvious that something needed to change. And so I tried to stop but as it turns out, news is a constant, all-encompassing thing. Vile, awful, terrifying news from all over the world constantly streaming into my everyday, darkening my thoughts and crushing my spirit. To escape the ugliness, more effort is needed.

Even when I stopped having my breakfast with a side of “let’s see what horrible things happened while I was sleeping” on TV, I’d see posts by likeminded people on Twitter or narrowminded monsters on Facebook, or I’d click through from funny cat posts on Buzzfeed. In the past few weeks I’ve really fallen off the wagon. Whenever I take a break, or I’m procrastinating, or I’m at the grocery store, I’m reading bad news.

I do think it’s important, perhaps now more than ever, to stay informed, to not live in a bubble. So, no matter how awful it is, I believe it’s vital that I am aware of what’s going on in the world. But after the first few tweets and news articles, it no longer is about being informed, is it? There’s a rather disturbing tendency to revel in the misery in a way. To keep reading opinion pieces and people’s comments on them, or to fall down the rabbit hole of hashtags, or to read the headlines of hateful publications, or, and this is the worst I think, to have arguments on Facebook. These things only ever work to make me even more upset, sad, and anxious.

My plan is to go back to my peaceful, TV-free mornings, focusing isntead on more positive little rituals to start my day. I’ll also limit the time I spend online every day, no more endless scrolling just to pass the time. I will focus on having more genuine conversations with my friends on social media instead of just retweeting and clicking through to article after article. After all, retweeting isn’t going to change the things that upset me, so instead I will spend my energy actually doing what I can to contribute to causes I believe in and I’ll do something positive for the world.

I know a lot of people are having similar thoughts, and I’d love to hear about how you cope with all the bad news and awfulness in the world.

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