How do you “switch off?”

We are all aware that Social Media can have negative impacts on our health. And that there are also positives, like I mentioned in my post last week. It’s all about balance, and, as with everything in life, finding that balance can be tough.

Personally, I’d like to eat chocolate cake, morning, noon and night, but the negative impact on my physical health really outweighs the momentary enjoyment I get from eating cake; and yet eating healthy and getting enough exercise remains one of my daily struggles. Especially when my mother-in-law insists on handing me a container filled with brownies (like really? I’m going to say no to that?).

Container with two slabs of brownies.
Figure 1: Picture of delicious brownies sitting on my kitchen table. Soon to be eaten.

Ingrained since childhood…

I want to be informed, watching and reading the news is hard-wired into me, having come from a family of lawyers, judges, and politicians. Growing up, the television was only ever on for the news, and once 24-hour news became a thing, that was all you could hear coming from the kitchen, with headline recaps every 15 minutes. 

The thing is, there is a difference between being informed and able to make cohesive arguments and engaging in clear balanced discussions, versus, being overloaded, mentally exhausted, and incoherent. It is exhausting to be constantly engaged, to try to constantly learn, and to always be questioning what you are seeing and where the information came from. Of course it is, but it is important. 

Loss of control

What is also important is your own sanity. So, balance. It always comes back to balance. 

Something that, when it comes to news consumption, I’ve never really been able to achieve. With the advent of the smartphone came the advent of news apps, and with the advent of social media came the immediate ability to discuss the news with anyone in my contact list, at any time, anywhere. 

Now I’ve noted elsewhere, that I’ve not used social media to join in discussions, or get involved in areas of interest that are important to me. And that my knowledge on so many areas of our world is seriously lacking. This is something that is a constant work in progress and one that I will be working on for the rest of my life. I have, however, made full use of news apps, to drive myself and my social circle slightly insane. 

I had managed to get a slight handle on this behavior when the summer of 2016 rolled around and then Brexit happened; then the fall of 2016 rolled around and Trump happened and FOMO basically took over the unconscious parts of my brain. 

I downloaded more and more news apps, yes yes, I know mainstream media, #barf. But at that time I had not considered Twitter to be a reliable source of news, the idea that the phrase “the President Tweeted” would become an actual bonafide normal thing, just did not sit with my notion of how a world leader behaved. The Guardian in the UK, the New York Times and Washington Post in America, CBC and the Globe and Mail here in Canada. These were and still are, my go-to sources for news. However, since our Personal Branding assignment, I have also come to recognize the tool that Twitter can be, when it comes to finding new sources and engage in ongoing conversations. Which feels like it has increased my news consumption several hundred fold.

And believe me, when I say that I often research around a news story when it feels as though the reporting lens is off, or the writer attempts to use emotional language without presenting the data or their sources, I go at it, I mean it, for hours. I can spiral into a never ending funnel of crazy. I want to know why, I want to know how, and I want to know what makes the writer believe what they say

And then 2020 happened…

Preserving my sanity

So, Sunday’s are now a “no social media”, “no news” of any kind, sometimes even a “no computer” and “no gaming” kind of day. A day to allow my brain to calm down and review everything that it has taken in over the previous week. Maybe a flick through “Factfulness” by Hans Rosling to remind myself of how far we (humanity) have come, or “Mindset” by Carol S. Dweck to remind myself that only I am responsible for my effort and learning, and that I can and will achieve my goals. Or, if I’m really done and need something really soothing, I’ll indulge in whichever full-blown fantasy series has my attention at the moment. Currently, a re-read of the “All Souls Trilogy” by Deborah Harkness is underway. If you have never read this series it is like sitting in a huge armchair, next to a fire, wrapped in a warm comfy blanket, on a Winter stormy night, with hot chocolate. Basically, it is delicious and comforting and just so much fun. I highly recommend it.

Balance remains a lofty goal that I aspire to, but at least one day out of seven, I (try to) give my brain a break. And I know that I am lucky to be able to even take a step back.

Do you ever find yourself completely overloaded by social media? What do you do to give yourself a break and find your way back to some semblance of balance?

Sometimes I just over do it and need to take a moment to find balance. How do you manage your Social Media consumption? https://bit.ly/37RxEk5

For Facebook: As many of you know I over do it on a regular basis with the news and Twitter. I’ve implemented a one day off a week rule, to let myself find some sort of balance. What do you do to regulate your social media consumption? https://bit.ly/37RxEk5

References:

Canadian Mental Health Association. (N.D). Social Media and Mental Health. Retrieved from https://ontario.cmha.ca/document-category/social-media-and-mental-health/

Dweck, C. (2016). Mindset The New Psychology of Success. New York, USA: Ballantine Books

Harkness, D. (2011). A Discovery of Witches. New York, USA: Penguin Group

Rosling, H. (2018). Factfulness. New York, USA: Flatiron Books

Sash56 [username] (2020, June 13th). Finding the positives in Social Media – a global connection and a gift beyond words. [Blog Post] Retrieved from https://algonquincollegesocialmedia.wordpress.com/2020/06/13/finding-the-positives-in-social-media-a-global-connection-and-a-gift-beyond-words/

Stockton, N. (2017, September). FOMO – Who Cares about my Friends? I’m Missing the News! Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/2017/08/fomo/

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