Lately, in the SwanWaters Facebook group, we have been having discussions about being triggered by current events posted on Facebook. These conversations are full of insight for me because I find this happening to me all the time! There is so much going on in the world, and there is such an emphasis on the negative when it comes to reporting the news. I also feel that there are a lot of parallels between toxic/abusive personal relationships and the corruption and abuse that exists on a larger scale in the world of politics. I think, at the end of the day, abuse is nothing other than a misuse of power. And you know what? I don’t think it matters in what setting or to what scale that abuse is taking place. Whether it’s a parent, partner, religious leader, or political leader it doesn’t matter. The mask is different, but the face underneath is the same.
It Comes Down to Boundaries
When it comes to toxic people, the SwanWaters team always comes back to the topic of boundaries. One of the things I advise people to do is to renegotiate with themselves what kinds of people they allow into their lives. And it’s not really that different in terms of the kind of media we expose ourselves to, either. I say: we need to clamp down on the kinds of things we allow into our lives. We are what we eat, but that doesn’t just go for the food that we use to nourish our bodies. It also goes for the thoughts we meditate upon, and what information we give access into our minds. There’s definitely something positive to be said for exposing yourself to the thoughts of people you might not necessarily agree with. Because allowing ourselves to consider different viewpoints and ways of thinking helps us to develop critical thinking skills. And it allows us to come to informed conclusions because we have explored multiple angles.
Having said that, though, it is an entirely different thing to be blown about by the consistent, negative, and doubt-inducing winds of a news media that finds its strength in fear-mongering.
As survivors of abuse, we are already faced with layer upon layer of doubt, fear, and negativity in our own minds without willingly putting ourselves in the eye of a sensationalist storm that presses all our buttons because producers and executives want to get high-ratings from our responses.
Facebook Fast or Social Media Cull
To be honest, we can’t be constantly anxious and still in survival mode while also trying to heal. So maybe it’s time to ask ourselves the following: if our Facebook feed, if the news, puts us into survival mode—inducing fear, anxiety, and obsession—then maybe it’s time to step away from it for a little bit.
I know that some people do this by taking—what they’ve so eloquently called—a Facebook fast. And every couple of weeks, they just take a week off from being active on the Internet—more specifically social media platforms. That works for some people. What seems to work really well for me, too, is to go through my Facebook friends list and cull it. If people are triggering us, we are under no obligation to keep them as our friends on Facebook! If you don’t want to unfriend them outright, you can still unfollow them so that you don’t see their posts in your feed. Unfollow some of the news pages or groups that you might be part of to achieve the same results.
If you are a news junkie, though, there are ways to take in the news without all the drama and stress. I, personally, read the news online and in newspapers because I find it less triggering than having the sounds and the images on TV. Although if my teachers from university had anything to say about it, they would be horrified to know I’m not as informed as they think I should be. But I am as informed as I need to be. I don’t really feel a necessity to know every name of every politician in every country that has anything to say about anything because it just clogs up my soul. News is never ending, and there is always something awful happening somewhere. And being focused on it takes away from the joy and happiness that I feel in my day-to-day life.
Also, do you want a cool idea for reducing phone app anxiety? Uninstall apps on your phone that you really don’t need. I’ve done this with quite a few of my apps because I don’t need to have 24/7 access to the goings-on in the world. But with the apps I still have, I’ve made sure that the notifications are all turned off on my phone. I don’t need my phone to bleep at me and demand my attention every two seconds. It’s not conducive to having good, face-to-face conversations with the people whose actual presence I’m in. And it’s disruptive to my mental health when I’m trying to cultivate peace in my home and life.
I’m not saying that you need to just completely stop watching or taking in any type of news because I think it’s also good to know what’s going on in the world. But at the same time, if you have to choose between being informed and being triggered, you don’t owe anyone an explanation for staying offline.
Everyone is different, and it’s important that you find what works for you. But you are absolutely allowed to turn down the online noise in order to cultivate a harmonious life.