The world is changing. As the nation surges with activism, protests, and rioting, a cascade of voices flood the media. It seems like every friend, family member, and acquaintance has something to say about this unfolding narrative, for better or for worse. It is normal to experience a wide range of emotions while absorbing this information, from anxiety and fear, to hope and despair. These are all valid responses to the changes erupting across our nation; change is inherently scary. You may see it as your duty to stay diligently informed, to listen to the voices of the oppressed, to the cries for justice. Yet, you also have a duty to yourself, to take care of your well-being, to listen to your mind's plea for rest. In an age of media mania, how do you balance your obligation to stay informed versus your right to remain emotionally stable? To guide you through this dilemma, I have assembled a few tips designed to prevent information overload.
1) Unfollow and block
Is there a certain celebrity, influencer, family member, or friend who voices an unsettling opinion that disturbs your feed? You are not obligated to follow anyone who causes you anger or anxiety. You have every right to remove those voices from your sphere of influence, to protect yourself from persistent agitation, which can be detrimental to your physical and mental health over time.
2) Set a timer
Whether you're flipping through Tik Toks or browsing Instagram, a timer, which is available in i-Phone settings, can remind you when it’s time to set your phone down. Mindless scrolling can overwhelm your brain with information, to the point of overload. At this point, you are harming your well-being, and need to take a step back from the media, and focus on yourself.
3) Follow reputable sources
By following information-dense, verified sources, you can maximize your education without being burdened by too many voices. There is only so much dialogue you can absorb without it becoming toxic to your mental health. By researching reputable sources to receive news, you can efficiently fulfill your duty to stay informed.
4) Delete addicting applications
If you find yourself unable to resist the temptation of Twitter drama and Facebook fights, simply delete the app. It may seem simple, but it works. It takes a lot more time and energy to download an application, and this may deter you from doing so.
5) Talk with people IRL
Oftentimes, the most inflamed and controversial voices gain large platforms on the internet. Remember that what you see on the internet is not necessarily representative of how people really act and feel. Reach out to members of your family and community; discuss your thoughts and ideas about your role during national events. Stay grounded in reality; remember that the media profits off displaying destruction and division, rather than unity and hope. You’ll find that personal conversations oriented toward education and action are much more powerful than any post.
I hope these ideas can help you navigate the stormy weather. Remind yourself that you are doing your best, and that is okay. It’s okay to be imperfect, to let your emotions overwhelm you sometimes, to be sad or uncertain. Take a step back from the flood of voices, and take care of you. And when you feel ready, the world is waiting for your return. You have an entire lifetime to create change, to contribute time and energy to those who need it most. For now, stay informed, stay sane and most of all, stay safe.