Since the 2016 presidential election, the role of social media in politics has changed drastically. Gone are the days when an average Facebook feed was filled with weekend pictures and friend requests. Breaking news is now at the front stage of almost every social platform, filling everyone’s feed with political posts. This shift has only sharpened after the presidential inauguration, when President Trump enacted a string of controversial executive actions. Social media is a valuable tool for staying informed in a changing political climate. Yet, overindulging in it can also be highly detrimental to mental health and activism as it induces numbness and exhaustion.
The most recent slew of policies enacted by the Trump administration have the potential to increase levels of anxiety on their own. But when these policies are disseminated on social media, the probability of emotional distress is even higher. Social media sites create and maintain waves of collective outrage that can easily become overwhelming when consumed on a daily basis. Anger and indignation encourage pushback and enact change because emotions often initiate the process of organizing and protesting. However, these emotions can overstep their civic purpose and become toxic to an individual’s well-being. Establishing personal rules can keep social media usage within healthy limits. For instance, you can decide on a daily time limit for social media platforms, or quit them all for a few days. The goal is not to be politically apathetic but to calibrate emotional capacity to deal with new challenges.
Most importantly, while repeatedly scrolling through articles, tweets and NowThis 30-second videos, a numbness, which can translate into exhaustion, can develop. Given the Trump administration’s recent challenges to compassion and integrity, we cannot afford exhaustion. We should control our consumption of social media so that we pay attention to both our civic duties and mental health. We should not shut out the news and politics but instead moderate our intake, so that we aren’t drowning.
Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them. Email Adriana Tapia at [email protected]