The reason I chose this topic is because I noticed something different about myself this morning. I stepped away from both news and social media a couple of days ago and I feel wonderful. To be honest, I almost feel like a new man and for someone who’s almost 50, that’s quite an accomplishment. So allow me to share why.
For months now, I’ve been pretty stressed out, and often very agitated, by things going on around the world that most of us have very little control over. I think, for the most part, we all instinctively know that there’s no sense in getting worked up over things you can’t change. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to get sucked into these “micro-realities” to the extent that they begin to dominate your life.
The Information Junkie
Speaking for myself, I know I’m not immune to this sort of thing. My problem has always been that I’m a news junkie who always has to know what’s going on. It makes sense to want to be informed, but when it becomes all-consuming, it is time to step away. That’s what I’ve decided to do, at least until I get my bearings back.
Each of us has a life of our own to live, and in a very real sense, we create the reality that surrounds us. There’s a quote from Paradise Lost (Milton) about how the mind can make a heaven out of hell or a hell out of heaven. That’s something very important to think about, especially when modern life seems to be going to hell. Always remember that no matter what’s going on, it doesn’t have to be as bad as it seems.
In addition to stepping away from the 24 news cycle, I’ve also decided to step back from social media. Now it’s important to note that I am referring to PERSONAL social media accounts and interactions, NOT business. If you use social media to promote your brand or business, obviously you need to keep that up or risk being left behind. Besides, if you’re sick of social media, it’s probably not your business page or its contacts that are getting you down. More often than not, it’s the one where you have all of your so-called “friends.”
Don’t get me wrong, I intend to still post there, on occasion. I’m not going to get into a huge debate about whether it might be better to just quit social media entirely, because that’s up to each individual. The way I see it, if you can get some enjoyment out of something, by all means do so. It’s when it’s not fun anymore that you should consider making some changes. As they say, too much of anything isn’t good.
It’s worth mentioning that if you don’t have something of substance to share, it might be best to wait until you do. The reason I say this is that it’s far too easy to get sucked into social media, allowing it to take up too much space in your head. Once you begin sharing every little thing you do, along with pics of your latest meal, where you are at any given moment, what you’re feeling, what you like and dislike, etc, it’s time to take a step back.
Besides, with so many trolls and critics on social media, you shouldn’t be surprised at how many will respond negatively to posts they disagree with. Keep in mind that before social media came along, very few of us knew each other that well. The reason we’ve lost so many friends in the age of social media is because we know so much more about what others think than we would have known just a couple decades ago. There’s a very good chance that those same lost friendships would have lasted longer without social media.
Social media seemed great when it was first introduced, but it wasn’t long before people were deliberately starting fights with one another and using social media to strike out at those who saw things differently. Some will post things they already know are unpopular, ust so they can have an excuse to argue with all those “frenemies” they only pretend to like.
Conflict and Information Overload
With so much conflict going on, it’s no wonder so many of us experience fatigue. To be honest, I was finding myself tired at times when I shouldn’t have been. It’s not just mentally exhausting, but even physically exhausting to be so tense and stressed out. You may not even realize it’s happening, but it’s hard not to be tense when you’re constantly arguing with others, some of whom you may not even know.
This is true of both social media and the news. Now combine both of those together, especially if the first glimpse you get of the day’s news is on social media. Then start reading the comment stream and you’ll notice that people are already fighting. Even if those people aren’t on your friends list, you’re being exposed to conflict from the moment you first scan your news feed.
What sort of way is that to start your day? When you do encounter people that are on your friends list, because of the fact that everyone there shares whatever is on their minds, you probably already know who among them holds different views from your own. How are you going to treat them the next time you have a chance to chat, once they’ve spilled their annoying guts on social media? How do you think they will treat you? Do you really think that finding common ground will be on either of your minds or that you can even fix the complicated issues you’re probably fighting about?
Meanwhile, you’re also compromising your health. We all know how bad stress is for both our mental and physical health. Think about what you’re doing to your immune system and consider the current health crisis that everyone around the world is dealing with. The best thing you can do for yourself is to get as healthy as you can and try to keep yourself that way. But what good is taking all those vitamins and doing all that exercise, if you’re countering those positive effects with all that unneeded stress?
See, while there might be nothing you can personally do to eradicate covid-19, you can most definitely reduce your chances of catching it. That should be what’s on your mind, not stressing yourself out through constant conflict or obsessing over issues you can’t do anything about. In fact, there’s a much better chance that you’ll get sick when you’re actually exposed to it, if your immune system is depleted.
Find Better Things to Do
So with that said, my hope with this post is just to get everyone thinking about how we’ve all been spending our time. It’s obvious that some have a lot more free time at their disposal right now, but that doesn’t mean it should be wasted on activities that are counterproductive. Wasting time arguing on social media or obsessing over issues that are out of your control is a surefire way to deplete both your energy and your body’s ability to put up a fight.
Furthermore, if you actually do have productive things that you could be doing, they could be taking a back seat to these non-productive bad habits. So if you can’t find any other reason for why you’ve been so tired and you know you’re not physically sick, maybe it’s time to step away from something you’ve been wasting your energy on.
You’d be surprised how much of your strength can get zapped away by focusing on all the wrong things. Trust me, if you ever really do get sick, you’re going to wish you had all that strength back to help you get better. Don’t allow pointless conflicts over news, politics, or other current events to suck all the fight out of you, when you need it the most. Save that strength for when it matters and spend your time cultivating it, rather than depleting it.