Why Now May Be The Best Time To Take A Long Break From Social Media

Why Now May Be the Best Time to Take a Long Break from Social Media
Source – SpunOut

With so much misinformation out there, the pandemic, and a stressful election year, your Twitter timeline, Facebook newsfeeds and Instagram page are likely to be flooded with emotional, rage-inducing postings in the coming weeks.

Why Now May Be The Best Time To Take A Long Break From Social Media

With so much misinformation out there, the pandemic, and a stressful election year, your Twitter timeline, Facebook newsfeeds and Instagram page are likely to be flooded with emotional, rage-inducing postings in the coming weeks.

According to a poll done on behalf of the American Psychological Association (APA) by The Harris Poll, 68 per cent of U.S. respondents say the 2020 election is a significant cause of stress in their life.

There was an upsurge of stress over the 2016 election when 52% stated the same thing.

Eliminating social media from your timeframe is one of the strategies to lessen election-related stress.

Taking a break from social media during election week could be helpful for many people. Social media can be very polarized, and there is an abundance of misinformation about all sorts of topics," According to Erin Vogel, PhD, a social psychologist and postdoctoral scholar at Stanford University, who told Healthline.

It’s very possible to stay informed and stay connected with others while still taking a break from social media," she said.

While social media may have some good benefits on mental wellbeings, such as connecting you with people, which can make you feel more loved and less lonely, it can also lead to anxiety, depressive symptoms, reduced self-esteem, and other disastrous consequences, according to Vogel.

Indeed, a 2018 experiential study of more than 100 undergraduate students at the University of Pennsylvania discovered that those who restricted their time use on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat to 10 minutes per platform, each day, experienced a dramatic decrease in loneliness and depression over three weeks when compared to a control group that used the media freely.

We often compare ourselves to the ‘highlight reels’ other people present on social media and feel worse about ourselves as a result. We can also accidentally spend a lot of time on social media and feel as if we wasted our time," said Vogel.

Furthermore, Laurie Santos, PhD, a psychology professor at Yale University, said that you might “catch" the emotions expressed by people on your feed.

When this occurs, talks can become heated, and disputes might break out particularly in politics.

Misinterpretation of people’s social media statements and tone can also spark conflicts.

Researchers from UC Berkeley and the University of Chicago discovered in 2017 that “We may end up taking a very different idea of an argument while reading than that of while watching or listening to that exact same thing.

Furthermore, scrolling through postings that irritate you might be the additional fuel to the flames.

According to a Pew Research survey conducted in 2018, 71% of people on social media reported seeing stuff that annoys them.

Furthermore, most social users view individuals indulging in drama and exaggeration and leaping into debates without all of the facts.

Opinion pieces appear to enrage people the most.

According to a 2018 Pew Research Center examination of congressional Facebook accounts, the fury emoji is now the most prevalent response to postings by members of Congress.

Given that emotions are running high, this might be a good time to take a break or at least reduce your consumption," Santos told Healthline.

Source - The New York Times

How to Take a Social Media Break

The University of Pennsylvania study revealed that both groups had substantial reductions in anxiety and fear of missing out (FOMO) after participating in the experiment, indicating a gain of enhanced self-monitoring on social media.

However, limiting or removing social media may not be as simple as it seems.

Experts provide the following advice for stepping away:

Uninstall The Applications

If you want to go cold turkey after the election, Santos recommends making it difficult or impossible to access your favourite social media platforms.

Delete the apps on your phone so you have to be intentional about logging in. Or, find a few friends who’ll commit to a social media sabbath for a few days with you,” she said.

You may also inform friends and relatives that often push you to use social networking sites that you no longer use and would like to talk about issues unrelated to online posts.

Develop New Habits

If getting on social media is your go-to activity when you open your eyes first in the morning, after completing a task, or get into bed at night, you should start preparing to do other things instead.

Vogel advises activities such as walking, reading, or communicating with a friend or relative over the phone or through text.

At first, it may feel uncomfortable to spend less time on social media. Developing new habits takes time, but it is possible,” she said.

Santos agreed and suggested that scrolling be replaced with healthful activities such as getting more sleep or practising breath-based meditation.

Social media can feel like an easy fix with a low start-up cost, and that means we use it because it’s easy… a quick way to kill a few minutes when we’re bored. Make it easy to do something else by making a list of ways you’d rather spend your time when you have a few minutes here and there,” she said.

Skip Over Political Posts

If you wish to access the great portions of your newsfeed, Vogel recommends scrolling through social media postings that aren’t relevant to your interests.

If political posts are stressing you out, you might benefit from getting your information from other sources. You can focus on entertainment, relaxation, and connecting with others during your social media time,” said Vogel.

Also, don’t let the fear of missing out on the information entice you to return to social media.

Just because the news cycle runs 24/7 doesn’t mean you have to be following it with rapt attention 24/7. We can be informed citizens while at the same time controlling our intake of the news media. The same is true for social media,” said Santos.

Identify Encouraging Contents To Follow

Another approach to avoid being bombarded with negativity on social media is to take control of your feeds by following individuals and enjoying news and posts that offer you pleasure or insight.

Try to balance the negative information with the good stuff. There is joy and positive news out there if you look. In the midst of the beginning of COVID-19 lockdowns, I followed the hashtag #COVIDKindness, which had lots of positive stories,” said Santos.

If troubling posts reappear on your timeline and you begin to feel uneasy, she advises you to take action.

[I] suggest taking a break and making sure you’re paying attention to your body to notice when you need one,” Santos said.


Source: Healthline

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