What a brutal time to be alive. Between the divisive presidential race of 2017 and the new alternative-fact tweet-loving President, newsfeeds around the world are filled with the vilest and most disgusting content known to mankind.
Both sides of the political spectrum are launching a full-on arsenal of memes, short videos, and stories all told with a strong sense of distaste for opposing viewpoints. Instead of promoting an exchange of ideas and careful consideration of the other side, this atmosphere of political unrest leads people to grasp onto their narrow views of the world with white-knuckled intensity.
While some people pretend to be unaffected, we all are being impacted. On the surface, some appear calm and confident, while many others appear angry or saddened by the news headlines they read throughout the day. Underneath these external presentations is the deep-seated feeling of fear--the powerful driving force behind most human behaviors.
Fear sends messages to your body saying "survive or be destroyed." Instead of running away, fighting, or freezing when we see a lion, now we must decide how to react to our most immediate threat--our newsfeeds.
Here are 10 ways to avoid being emotionally destroyed by your newsfeed:
1. Decrease the amount of time you spend reading that garbage.
With the war on truth's intentional smokescreen between facts and lies, many of us are consuming propaganda that is unhelpful and unhealthy. Reading this unhealthy content restricts our awareness to only seeing things that confirm our worldview, and in doing so, makes us hate (read: fear) others.
2. Don't read the comments section unless you're prepared for battle.
The internet was made for trolls. Comment sections are where trolls live. Stop feeding the trolls--they're only preying on your emotional energy.
3. Seek out more reputable sources of information.
Real journalism has never been more valuable than it is right now. Consider investing in a subscription to a reputable site. They not only need your financial support; the world needs your informed opinion. Read that again--your informed opinion.
4. Know that taking a break doesn't mean giving up.
It's okay to set healthy boundaries with yourself. If your remote control truck--yes, the one from 1990--is out of juice there's only one way to charge the battery, and it's not by continuing to drive. Live to fight another day.
5. Trust that you don't need to be immersed in order to be informed.
Key point here: news is everywhere. The political climate is so divisive that even ESPN anchors are making comments about new legislation. When news is inescapable and all-encompassing, you don't need to always be the one breaking the stories--especially if the stories are breaking you.
6. Recognize that there are many forms of activism.
There is more to activism than combating conservatives on the internet. If you identify with the other side, it's equally important for you to recognize that right now may not be the best time to convince your relatives of your perspective. Consider calling your senators, writing letters, educating yourself, writing articles, and attending protests if you feel so inclined.
7. Challenge yourself to listen and respond to your body.
Our bodies are sensitive and attuned to the world around us. Take the time to pause, reflect, and notice what your body is asking of you in a given situation. Sometimes it may be asking you to fight, other times it may be pleading with you to take a break. If you feel yourself getting too worked up, allow yourself some space.
8. Be aware that each person deals with fear in their own way.
Some people furiously attack others to defend against the parts of themselves that they fear, while others crumble into sadness and despair. No matter how you or the world around you reacts, do your best to practice compassion--it's the only way to break the cycle of pain and blame.
9. Try to see the big picture--the ebb and flow of history.
Sometimes pulling way back and looking at the big picture can help restore distance between yourself and what's happening. Becoming too immersed in our thoughts often leads to suffering. Keep your sense of optimism alive--the world needs it.
10. Take care of yourself by getting back to the basics of health.
Make sure that you spend time with people you love. Eat healthy foods, exercise, do fun activities completely unrelated to civil unrest. You deserve it.
As Audre Lorde once stated, "Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare."