I thoroughly enjoy social networking. I appreciate how it allows us to be connected to the world, our community, and friends with just a click of a button. If you’ve got something to shamelessly promote, it’s great for that too. However, I’ve become aware of a dark side to it all, and no, I don’t mean the time we spend sitting behind a screen!
I am a person who suffers from a high level of anxiety. External stimuli can set me off in the blink of an eye. If I’m not cautious things that might make others a bit nervous, will place me into a full blown panic attack. It’s how I’m wired, I’ve adapted to it and thankfully it does not deter my quality of life.
To that end, lately, for no particular reason, I’ve been a bit more stressed, edgy, fearful. It seems a little dark cloud is always looming in the distance in spite of how content I am. By the grace of God, I have a great job, kids I adore with whom I have a wonderful relationship, and friends I know I can count on. We’re healthy, peaceful, successful, so what’s causing my unease?
The possible answer dawned on me in the most unlikely of ways. I visited the Getty Museum in LA with my oldest son, who was here from NYC for the holidays. Chilling on a bench waiting for him to rejoin me, I casually opened Facebook on my iPhone. There I found the sad breaking news – seriously it had just posted – that Carrie Fisher had taken ill aboard a plane in route to LAX. I could feel my heart quicken and my neck tighten. I’m not a huge fan of the now late Ms. Fisher, I didn’t know the woman personally, but as a human being, I cared. I thought of her family and friends getting the call and racing to the hospital. Additionally, as I’ve shared in other posts, I am terrified of flying for all obvious reasons and one lesser so… what happens if you become seriously ill way up in the sky? How does one get emergency help? Collectively the information and my imagination stressed me beyond the point it should have (go back to the first paragraph).
So to my point… the above is one example of how social media created insidious stress. How often do we read about horrors that occur on a daily basis? From attacks to accidents, earthquakes to fires… lives lost and forever changed. Even advice about health risks, parenting and relationships can be detrimental in large doses. It’s all coming at us like a hailstorm from which we have no protection. Except to avoid the carrier!
I am not suggesting we live in a bubble of indifference pretending all is perfect. We need to be aware of what’s happening in order to help create change. However, do we need to know each happenstance the second it happens? Do I need the news celebrity has passed within seconds of the passing? Do I need to know a tiny earthquake hit a hundred or so miles from me? Will I be of service to anyone involved in an accident on the 10 as I sit at my desk? Of course NOT!
Just as our bodies react negatively to over-indulgence of unhealthy ingestion, so do our minds. If we are constantly bombarding our psyche’s with sadness and horror, whether it directly affects us or not, our minds – and subsequently our bodies – will react to the stimuli. We might have trouble sleeping, concentrating, effectively participating, feeling positive, or as in my case, feel edgy and fearful.
The bottom line is, there is indeed plenty of personal stuff we each need to deal with on any given day. Then there’s the immediate world stuff we collectively must open our minds to. But there’s the whole lot of other stuff we can find out about eventually, gently, slowly. We can mourn a celebrity later. We can wait a couple days to send condolences to a cyber friend whose 98-year-old great uncle passed away. We can learn about snarled traffic on the highway when we’re actually planning to drive on that highway. We do not need to have the minute to minute updates about everything constantly slamming us.
I’ll never leave any of the social platforms… in fact, I keep joining them as new ones come along. But as I start a fresh new year, I will visit with more discerning caution. I will scroll by more and read less. Just to be safe, I’ll be spending more time on SnapChat and Instagram, where, for the most part, things are a little lighter and a lot more cheerful!
Cheers to less stress and more bliss in 2017… Happy New Year!