The Happy Writer

How Not To Feel Overwhelmed By Social Media

Stress
[ photo: Cracking Under Stress by Bernard Goldbach CC ]
It sometimes seems like these days social media can be a constant flood of bad news, and it can be both very tiring, depressing, and can cause real anxiety.

You’ve probably heard the advice to get away from it all for a while, but social media and public life on the internet part of the new reality we live in. Some people depend on it for their livelihoods. Getting away isn’t always a viable option.

So what can you do? Here are some things that have helped me. Your mileage may vary, but if you’re already feeling overwhelmed, it’s worth a try.

  • Limit the social media you participate on. You don’t have to be on every network, and easier to engage if you’re focused on fewer. I’ve heard the advice to pick 4 networks at maximum, but I’m down to just Twitter and blogging for now.
  • Stick to the social media you enjoy the most.
  • You don’t have to follow everyone. I weed out my Twitter feed and blog list regularly, so that the people and things I follow mostly make me happy.
  • There’s nothing wrong with giving someone a temporary time out (even if they don’t know it) to give yourself a break. A temporary muting can save a your sanity if you don’t want to follow a particular subject. So can turning off re-tweets on Twitter.
  • Make peace with not having to be caught up with everything. The world won’t fall apart if you missed a few blog posts, or neglected to comment.
  • Use lists. You can choose when to view certain feeds or people, rather than automatically displaying them. This way, you can check on them when you feel that you’re able to / have the energy to, and not have them forced upon you. For example, authors, publishing industry talk, or agent chats.
  • For big more popular sites / news / big media, don’t read the comments. I make an exception for friends blogs of course 🙂
  • Take care of your real life relationships, and try to cultivate a healthy social life offline. Sometimes the real world can be a lot more civil than the internet.
  • Also, fuzzy bunnies!

My experience online is a lot more zen these days, and it’s nice to know that I can control a little of it with effort. Never everything, but some things.

Do you have some tips to add? How do you stop from feeling bummed out by all the bad news?

Note: This is not about coping with online harassment. That’s a different beast entirely.

8 Comments

  1. I mostly focus on blogging. The signal-to-noise ratio is better, at least for me. I’m on Facebook, but that’s really minimal (and I don’t have FB on my phone, so I only check in once or twice a day). As you say, I’m sure I miss some things, but I’m fine with that. I’ve never been on Twitter, and I’ve pretty much given up on Google Plus. I never take photographs, so that rules out some others right away.

    The blog world is still the best, though I’m pretty choosy even here.

  2. Oh boy, do I agree with you about not reading comments on news and media posts. I’ve made the mistake of doing that before and just wanted to scream at the sheer callousness/cruelty/ignorance of some people. It’s unbelievable in the worst way. You’re right, though, that blogging is wonderful. The community of people I’ve met because of it is absolutely awesome.

    Also: this new bunny mama gives that rabbit picture two thumbs up! 🙂

  3. If it’s anything controversial, the rule is almost always not to read the comments. I sometimes do… and every time I do, I regret it.

    The exception is at sites with a strong moderation policy. With good moderation, people can have discussions and disagreements without being devolved, poo-flinging monkey-monsters.

    I’ve also settled myself that I can never, will never, and shall nevermore attempt to stay abreast of twitter. It moves too fast, and there’s little point. I usually catch twitter updates of interest in the sidebar feeds on blog sites, or in twitter-aggregation posts on blogs. Blogging is just a better speed for someone who can’t remain glued to their twitter feeds 24/7 (which, I honestly think, is most of us).

    1. I don’t think Twitter is meant to be caught up with (though I’ve tried). That way lies madness. Mostly I find it’s good for socializing. I still <3 my feed reader. It's much nicer to be able to read at your own pace.

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