We've long felt that social media is one of the contributing reasons that many Americans are feeling anxious. That's part of why we think we're living in the "Age of Anxiety."
As part of our predictions for 2020, we said we expected the media to cover this, and the New York Times recently provided some tips as part of its "Smarter Living" initiative, entitled, "How to Turn Depressing Social Media Into a Positive Influence."
According to the Times, "The current state of the modern world is a billion voices screaming for your attention, and it’s easy to let the most negative ones filter through and bring you down. It can be exhausting, and if your real life is already a struggle, adding digital gloom can be overwhelming."
The article, whose subhead says, "Don’t let Facebook, Instagram or Twitter become negative aspects of your life. Here’s how to fix them," provides tips on for those three social media platform such as:
- Be selective who you follow. "Don’t follow accounts or hashtags you don’t like."
- Go back and unfollow friends "who only post negative things...or (those) who only writes rude comments."
- Don't click on things you don't like. The reason: Instagram knows what you look at so it will continue to serve up photos similar to the others you've tapped. "Click on something else. It won't take long to adjust and show you that."
- Skip Insta's Search page. Instead, "only look at the accounts you follow."
- Consider muting or blocking on Twitter to avoid "the most terribly toxic tweeters."
- "Enable the Quality filter and other advanced filters to cut down on replies from accounts with only a few followers (i.e., likely spam or bots)."
- "Don't post anything you don't want." People sometimes feel compelled to post but you don't have to.
Those are good tips, and there are more in the article so it's worth checking out.
We have another tip: When posting photos or info that includes other people, ask them in advance if they're okay doing so. We know a frequent poster who uploaded group photos that included friends' young kids. The parents and the kids were unhappy to be included; they just didn't want to be included.
We do expect people to take social media vacations -- that is: to take time off from checking social media -- this year, especially as the presidential election approaches. But the need to take a social media vacation isn't due only to wanting to avoid politics (your own or someone from across the aisle). We feel that the need to take time away from social media can be beneficial and help you be present in a way that constant checking can't do.