Today I saw a tweet from an apparently famous person (I have not heard of her) saying that the current political environment (specifically the election of Trump) caused her so much anxiety that she is on medication and she is going to need better medication. This was preceded by and then followed by more Tweets expressing her outrage.
It struck me that her attempt to overcome anxiety by being publicly outraged, continuously, day after day, is probably not an effective strategy to improving her health.
As I look across the social mediascape I see many people expressing outrage on social media.
I have no background in psychology and I can only make guesses as to what is going on. It seems much of this anxiety may come from a feeling of “loss of control”. Expressing outrage on social media seems, to the individual, like a way of asserting control. At best, however, it thins their followers until all they have left is a group of the similarly outraged and angry.
Hanging out with a group of angry, outraged people does not seem like a healthy support group to overcome anxiety.
As I look at what people I know are posting on social media – frequent posts related to their outrage over whatever – I suspect we are peering into a public display of their mental health. This is not cool. Pouring their outrage out online is not helping them either.
The perpetual outrage we see online likely takes a toll on each of us too. Some of the outrage may be directed for or against issues we agree on – or could merely be creating a heightened sense of fear and anxiety in the recipient. I do not think we can be surrounded by so much negativity and be emotionally healthy.
Because of this, social media – if not properly managed – can become a mental health trap for both posters and recipients.
You can assert meaningful control, however. On Facebook, hide offending posts, Unfollow or Unfriend those who spread outrage and negativity every day. On Twitter, unfollow those who do the same.
(My rules are simple – people who post thoughtful “think” pieces, informative “factual” stories on any topic are fine. People who post occasional political advocacy items are fine. People who repeatedly post fake news or political propaganda rooted in falsehood get unfollowed or unfriended quickly. When propaganda promotion becomes their primary focus, it is no longer fine. And I unfollow or unfriend them. For my own mental health!)