I rarely watch the actual news, but I have media outlets baked into my social media. Various stories show up in my timeline throughout the day. I pick and choose which one I want to click on and take a deeper dive.
Last week, I was haphazardly scrolling through my timeline. At first, I was barely paying attention, but then I started to absorb the headlines.
I swear, I almost started laughing as each article contradicted the other. Most were related to the Pandemic but the news goes from plausible to outrageous and back again. Some of the strangest stories are the real ones.
While it seems funny on the surface, it can actually be detrimental to mental health to consume 24 hours, 7 days a week negative news stories, especially during a Pandemic.
It starts out well-intentioned because you want to know what’s going on or what you don’t know. It morphs to convincing yourself that you are just trying to take care of yourself and your loved ones.
The problem is some of the articles are inflammatory. The headlines are designed to lure you by inciting anger or fear so you will click on them. It doesn’t matter if you actually read the article as long as you share or click. And, they know you will choose whatever fits your personal agenda.
I’m not removed from entertaining and sharing articles that match my personal constitution. And, I actually reserve the right to share whatever I think matches my truth.
But, I concern myself with how I am being emotionally-manipulated. How do I know when it’s time to unplug?
I can start to feel really irritable or anxious. I can feel annoyed with people. Or, I could feel very doom and gloom. When I realize that I am developing a negative outlook or reaching for coping mechanisms is when I decide to take some time off and ignore the stories.
Personally, I retreat into the fantasy world. I will binge-watch a show or turn on some music. I will indulge in either one until I feel better about the world.
You might not realize how much you are affected by what you consume and if you can’t gauge it for yourself, ask others. If they tell you that you complain too much or you have a negative view, you might want to consider taking a small vacation for news consumption.
You can always go back. Or, trust me, it will find you if it needs you.
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