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How do You Reduce #SocialMedia Angst?

Social media angst

Social Media Tips for Sanity

Editing has exhausted me this entire week. Add to the fact that I was unwell and still don’t feel a hundred per cent and there’s this tendency to droop and focus on gloom and doom. My social media feed full of news of carnage, aggressive conversations without nuance or patience, and stories about leaders, who seem to have peanuts for brains and egos larger than their heads, does not help. Social media angst is never far away.

So here’s my note to self, my social media tips for sanity: a few reminders to stay away from social media angst. I’m not speaking out of compassion fatigue, each event still devastates me, but on social media, I’d rather see positive action than negative recrimination.

Best to check, I find, whether I’m seeing the world colored by my own prejudices, from inside the eco-chamber full of those who agree with me. (This article explains it.) Personally, a bit of perspective helps me reduce social media angst, and leads me to see the world as a writer should. The article, though long, is worth a read, and ends with:

“I implore you to seek out your opposite. When you hear someone cite “facts” that don’t support your viewpoint don’t think “that can’t be true!” Instead consider, “Hm, maybe that person is right? I should look into this.”

Because refusing to truly understand those who disagree with you is intellectual laziness and worse, is usually worse than what you’re accusing the Other Side of doing.”

What recent piece of news has given you the ulcers? Are you ever frustrated by what you read on social media and want to shut the whole noise down altogether? If you’re on social media, what tips would you share so we can all remain sane, functional, healthy individuals, yet avoid compassion fatigue? Do you ever try to understand the reasons why some people disagree with you? Do my tips make sense to you? Would you share them?

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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • dgkaye says:

    Great share Damyanti. I believe anyone who jumps at a defensive answer should have a think on what they’re saying before the reaction. So many negative Nellies jump on the bandwagon when a feed is fueled without proper information. <3

  • Jack Eiden says:

    I read your recent comments to Lee Jackson in TOSSING IT OUT. I didn’t respond on his site because I’ve decided to put my comments to his blog on a 6 months hold. That will give Trump time to put his administration together, tangle with Congress, and back away from his silliest positions. We can all concentrate on opposing what he’s serious about or support his worthwhile projects, if any. It will also give Lee time to consider if Trump was merely telling Lee what he wanted to hear with no intention of following through or of serving any interests other than his own. Lee literally represents millions in our country who have fantasized a Trump who doesn’t exist. We’re not going to burst their bubbles now – we’ll only solidify their fantasies.

    You’re right about climate control and your disgust with Trump. I don’t think you need to fear him. I doubt the American people will continue to tolerate him as he flails about, domestically and internationally.

    I’m not on F/book, Tweets, or other programs. Too old to learn.

    Jack Eiden

  • amitmisra says:

    Just read your post only; I’d take some time going through the comments.

    You have focused on your response to criticism of your work, which is wonderful. However, most of the comments that I see on social media carry no solid foundation or basis (‘educated criticism’). If one scratches the surface, there is nothing inside. I have felt that the comments posted on blogs are more solid, honest and genuine as compared to other social media.

  • Christy B says:

    This post hit home for me… Compassion fatigue is indeed what I feel sometimes. Thanks for your clear words that I have no doubt will help others too xx

  • Thank you for addressing this tough topic! I try to stay away from politics – even though it is tempting sometimes and I have a close friend that over-posts stuff like that. I try to keep my posts positive, uplifting, information, or action-orientated (and yes, I post “buy my book” types posts, too – sorry). I think we have to listen to music, go outside (I’m currently listening to two squirrels either make a love nest or duking it out in the tree nearest my deck outside – oh, and there’s a local crow flying by croaking, and a barge blowing a low horn on the sound a few kilometers away), exercise, do positive affirmations, get in touch with our faith, stretch (yoga), pray, and talk to super-positive people now and then. All of those things help. I get asked sometimes by a family member why so many people post pictures on facebook that are just scenic pictures or pictures of puppies, and I think that these images and the posts are a way that many are trying to create an uplift in that community – which has become increasingly negative. We all need to re-focus on the good around us, or at least how we may act to create life-giving communities. Sometimes, we need to address the atrocities in this world – but hopefully, we can do so with a plan of positive action (like serving the community instead of throwing stones).

  • What a great topic! I’ve started an ‘information diet’. I firmly believe that what we put into our minds affects our physical and mental well being just as much as what we put into our bodies. I’m not saying we should ignore reality, but I do think we shouldn’t always bombard ourselves with controversy, opinions, and tragedy. I closed my facebook account, the only news I need is NPR on the drive home from work, and I generally stick to reading books for entertainment. I feel much more positive after about 3 months of living like this. Social media will change us in ways similar to the way industrial/fast food has, if we allow it. Once again, very great post!

  • Damyanti Biswas says:

    Thanks everyone for your comments. I didn’t manage to reply to all of you here, but I have now visited you all back. As always, I’m grateful for your support and the kind and wonderful words you’ve written here. It renews my faith in the world.

  • I believe myself to be an aware and caring person. I try my best. But I also zone out the news from time to time. I get the facts and then process that. I don’t go back for more and more details if I can help it.

  • I have also found my social media feed very wearing lately. It was making me unhappy, as well as taking up valuable time I would rather spend reading other peoples writing or writing my own. Over the past month, I have moved my social media icons off the first page on my phone – so they are not in my face constantly. I have turned off the notifications so I do not see the little red flag telling me something is waiting for me. I feel lighter, I feel less angry, I feel less sad. I am not sure I will go back to it now, it was doing me harm. It is good to take a break if it is doing you harm.

  • Chez Shea says:

    Great post and great tips. The challenge, these days, is to be positive and to believe in people and their inherent goodness.

  • My 30-year-old daughter is my barometer for youth. She uses social media to curate her news and thinks social issues are at the top of what she is concerned with. With that agenda, I wonder if it’s possible to find a safe space in a social media stream. Dunno.

  • Katarina87 says:

    I am personally lucky, I suppose, when it comes to Facebook. I only have my closest friends and family as contacts and they are all preoccupied with new life AKA babies. So, my news-feed is generally populated with the newest pics of the little ones. As for Twitter, that’s a different story. I don’t know what pains me more, the actual events or the constant human need to have an opinion. People commenting on the lives of countries they will never visit. Politicians singing the same old lies and people falling for it. It’s sad, but it’s nothing new. I hide in my bubble of baby pics (and internet cats). If it doesn’t help I cuddle my own baby after writing articles.

  • aj vosse says:

    For my part… if I could stay away from social media, blogging excluded, I’d happily do so! I find Facebook to be the most time consuming… judging by the amount of time my family spend on it! Also, so often negative tales of woe are circulated… then, according to some family and friends, I should know about these totally unrelated and irrelevant actions somewhere on the planet! More time gone! For what?

  • This post speaks to my soul! Thank you for sharing this. I was just talking about my projects direction with my boyfriend last week. We were discussing negativity and its presence everywhere. Primarily the Internet. Everything you’re discussing here are things I said to him. Thing I want to actively work on doing. It’s so nice to see someone else with the same action plan, and sharing it with others. When enough people work together big things happen. Maybe you can start a movement with this way of thinking.

  • pratikshya2 says:

    Words of wisdom.. my facebook wall is filled with inspirational quotes, motivational thoughts,.. and I do share them… perhaps someone somewhere would draw hope and faith from them, as I did..

  • Your poem makes so much sense. There is no doubt a great deal of negativity on social media and I don’t get that. My way of keeping myself insulated is by not going looking for hash tags. It is the hash tags where most of the muck lies. And then there are people posting utterly ill, malformed and dead people asking people to post Amen. Praying for the sufferers is good but this way those photos serve no good. Until some time back I had a guy from the school days whom I was friends with on FB but realised down the line he was hell bent on posting and spreading hatred for a particular religion, feminists and political parties except one which he endorsed. I had to block him.

  • ascreasey says:

    Thank you for this. I often find posts on social media so reactionary and thoughtless and inflammatory.

  • ccyager says:

    I’ve been spending less and less time on social media this year primarily because of politics in my country as well as the violence in the world. I try to believe that social media does not reflect humanity but only a small percentage of people in the world, but it’s very hard with so much death and doom going on. It does nothing for my psychological health. The one thing I’ve noticed on social media is that there’s a lot of talking and shouting, and not much true discussion that everyone could learn from. It’s difficult for me, at times, because I like social media to keep in contact with family and friends. I like your ideas of staying positive, sharing positive thoughts and stories.

  • Social media can be toxic and deplete you mentally!! It has become a shield to attack people and hide like branded cowards. The trolls who doesn’t flinch in insulting women or casting celebrities. I mean, be in their shoes and then see for yourselves.

  • cleemckenzie says:

    It’s all this political bruhaa that’s got my head spinning. I’m taking some of your ideas to heart. Thanks.

  • hilarymb says:

    Two other things … sorry – should have said I hope you feel better soon (have some chicken soup for the soul) … and your poem is very clever … cheers Hilary

  • hilarymb says:

    Hi Damyanti – great post and with some so sensible ideas – we don’t need to listen or to engage … but I too wish people would try and understand – and look at the other side of the argument …

    I definitely do not like ‘leaders’ spouting out about others … it is very degrading, and does not set a good example for the populace to follow – they at least should be above it all …

    I don’t ‘do’ FB or Twitter … and keep to myself essentially – some bits on the blog … similar to this comment and I try and encourage everyone to be positive and treat others as they’d like to be treated …

    But we can switch off … and I do often – good luck to us all … cheers Hilary

  • pjlazos says:

    Love this post, Damyanti! I’m going to go out and weed my garden and talk to my plants and examine some blades of grass. oxo

  • Shailaja V says:

    You said it so well. My way of dealing with social media angst is as follows:

    1. Stop checking news feed on FB and only look at groups and messenger. The separate apps for these help me effectively.
    2. Unfollow people who only post negative stuff and criticism all the time. Life’s too short to be wasted on arguments.
    3. Time myself on social media and log off when the timer goes off.

    If I do share I write humorous updates or my status posts which are in some way connected to my writing. So far, that helps.

  • Rachna says:

    I totally agree that there is easy to much negativity on social media. My way of dealing with it is by reducing my time on social media and try to indulge in positive interaction.

  • catchats says:

    I so agree that social media is creating so much negativity, fear and hatred. I am making it a mission to only post positive posts and stories on my blog and Facebook.

    I avoid anything political and controversial, especially American politics though I have been known to post Donald Trump cartoons now and then. Can’t help it, they’re so funny!

    I’m Canadian but still feel all the toxic negativity oozing its way Northward through social media. I do admit to fearing for the future of the US and the impact it will have on the rest of the world. However, I’m not going to add to to that fear and only want to post positive, funny, and encouraging posts. Why add to it?

    I liked your list and totally agree. Positive and uplifting is the way to go. I posted a very positive story the other day about Canadians helping Syrian refugees on a train out of Toronto. It was so uplifting and made me feel that there are still caring people in the world who don’t hate and fear everyone and everything.

    Social media is so powerful and should be used to promote goodness, sharing and tolerance. Let’s keep doing it in the hopes we can make a difference!

  • Rajlakshmi says:

    I try to avoid reading or involving in discussion with negative comments, but it’s really hard to avoid. Social media scares me, the people behind those mean comments scare me. It overpowers all the good and beautiful things.

  • Obsessivemom says:

    Those tips are priceless. I was happy to note that I’d been following many of them unconsciously, though. There is so much negativity and sometime you have no idea when an innocuous comment form you can set off a barrage of dissent. Keeping it positive is the only way to minimise stress. When I begin to find things getting unpleasant I simply get off social media for a while – does me good.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Yes, it is the only way. I’m unable to return your visit, tho, because Firefox shows an error.

  • I liked this blog. I remember writing an article long ago titled “In Defence of Dissent.” The gist of it was that we should value unkind things or misunderstood things said about us as this is a point of view helping us to examine how we are perceived and if there is a good reason for that perception. If so we need to make changes in the way we do things and how we present to those who observe us.

    It is equally wise to be cautious about praise people shower on us as it may be unwarranted and an attempt to manipulate us. 🙂

  • simonfalk28 says:

    Damyanti, well said yet again. Hope you feel better soon 🙂

  • Susan Scott says:

    Thanks Damyanti – great post. I’m conflicted with wanting to keep up with the news and also wanting to bury my head like an ostrich deep in the sand. Lately, I’ve been watching less TV. I’m amazed and appalled at the hate on FB but I’m glad I’m aware of it. I don’t engage in any way … much of it I gloss over. But it makes me aware of people wanting and shouting to be heard on social media even if it is so gross, unkind, spewing garbage and so on. As you can imagine I am in full agreement with seeking out the opposite of what I believe to be central to me.This allows for balance.

  • Gosh what news hasn’t given me ulcers! Everyday, I look for people doing something nice or sweet like the teenager immediately giving up his seat for an elderly person–without being asked or prompted. It reminds me there is good still out there.

  • Peter Nena says:

    Social media is a reflection of the human society, and the human society is very scary. I think we’re more attuned to dangerous and ugly things, perhaps for the sake of survival, and so we are stirred by bad news more than good news.
    I have come across statistics which contradict the popular ones on social media. But the popular ones have severe emotions attached to them. Unalterable emotions. So the truth doesn’t matter.
    I usually listen to people who contradict me. It makes me poor at arguments because I am acutely aware that I do not know everything and that the other person may not be totally wrong.
    I have asked myself some very hard questions about the world and the abused life of humanity. To seek the answers, I have read, and continue to read, a lot.
    Right now I have reached the point where I force myself to avoid reacting to news. Any news. I have to think about it, compare it with some other previous incidents, and draw my own conclusions. Sometimes I react, but I feel really bad about it later on,when the truth dawns on me.
    I think we are all wrong on certain issues. One of the constant things in this world is human conflict. It doesn’t matter which kind of people or which part of the world. People from the same families, clans, tribes, races, gender, etc, have waged some of the most internecine wars on this planet.
    So most of the things we blame for our conflicts are wrong.
    And as Buffalo Springfield sang “No one is right if everybody is wrong”.

  • dweezer19 says:

    I do these things. I don’t have much of a public visibility excpet for my blog posts so I haven’t had any head on conflicts. My son has since he is quite outspoken regarding his own views about injustice, etc. i have backed away from a lot of social media lately. Im tired of being told how to be popular, gain followers, make friends and influence people. Fame is not my game so I just decided to do what I love. Take photos, write some poetry and share things that might give someone a reason tp pause and think or smile.

  • Dan Antion says:

    As others mentioned, I’m very protective of my Facebook presence. I’m connected to family and friends I know well. It’s a mix of opinions, viewpoints and passions, but everyone is generally civil. I can handle differing opinions, but not hate and racism. On Twitter, I use lists. I can open or close channels based on what popular opinion is doing.

    I’m going to make it a goal to put at least one bit of good news out everyday 🙂

  • I have “unfollowed” some dear friends on FB until after the election — people I agree with — because of the hatred that is coming from commenters. They know I am doing this so if they need me to see it they send it to me PM. That has reduced half my anxiety and depression. Mob mentality scares the hell out of me too.

    Also, I am in complete agreement that people will not even consider the “other side”. I’m a liberal, and you cannot believe how much I HATE having to agree with someone I cannot stand — but there are times when I do. Everyone said that the republicans were on a witch hunt looking at the FBI director, or the Attorney General, but frankly, for the first time I thought they were doing their job. Yes, some were snarky and inappropriate. But not all, and is made me fume to see that the Dems were not asking some tough questions also. An open mind is important, and while I can’t listen to hate rhetoric, I can read transcripts and GOOD opposition commentary. Yet I’ve lot friends over Bernie versus HRC. Amazing, and depressed the hell out of me.

    I’m doing more gratitude work, and talking to my husband more about the tough stuff, and watching more comedies when we need to unwind.

  • shanayatales says:

    Which recent piece? There are so many many of them. I for one, will celebrate once the election season is over. I don’t think the result will give me/us much to celebrate, but at-least this ridiculous run-up will be over!

  • shanayatales says:

    Which recent piece? I can hardly pin down one. So many. So many many of themI for one will be glad when this election season is over. The result seems equally devastating, but at-least I can save myself this ridiculous run-up.

  • Love your media tips and yes, I know, we are supposed to engage with those who think otherwise (and they might indeed be right), but boy is it difficult sometimes!

  • Emily says:

    Social media can be very hard! I try to take a step back from time to time and avoid the comments. And I also agree with you that we need to look at different perspectives than our own. All I know is that God is in control, and we are all stumbling humans who need to try and do our best.

  • C.E.Robinson says:

    Damyanti, Facebook to me is solely to connect with family & (blog) friends! And to publish blog posts. Same with Twitter & Google +. I concentrate on those participants, and ignore all others. Time is valuable & I’d rather write! I like Instagram because I can follow who I want! And not follow Instagram postings. It’s more intimate & friendly! Have a wonderful weekend! ? Christine

  • This is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing it. Just what I needed to hear after rage-quitting Facebook earlier this week to give myself a couple of weeks away from the world.

  • What a great post. One minute social media can be an amazing tool, the next minute it is a cesspool of hatred and vitriolic nonsense. Too many people want to fight hate with hate, and that makes no sense to me. Spread kindness and positivity!

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