Deleting and cutting off angry social media may leave us emotionally healthier

Deleting and cutting off angry social media may leave us emotionally healthier

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I deleted my account. NextDoor is the social media platform for neighborhood busybullies. These are the people who feel compelled to tell everyone else how to live their lives, to enforce pettiness (think your HOA creep that calls in someone who has the wrong shrubbery in their yard) and to generally be unpleasant people to be around. That is who inhabits and spends time on NextDoor.

I deleted a couple of community groups I had belonged to on Facebook. In the past couple of months they have devolved into NextDoor-like rudeness. A month ago they were publicly shaming those who were wearing a face mask, but then after the CDC’s vague advisory, they began publicly shaming those who were wearing the politically incorrect/wrong kind of face mask (old N95 or surgical mask), to now saying that those who are not wearing a face mask are committing homicide.

When someone earnestly sought advice about whether they should call the police when they saw 3 small children playing together in a park (parks are closed due to Covid-19 lockdown but not fenced off or anything), I decided it was time to leave those groups. People have lost their minds.

I dropped out of a special interest group that was taken over by those posting about Covid-19, which invariably degenerated into angry shouting matches in the comments. Not an emotionally healthy place to hang out.

Twitter is the social media platform for angry people. I posted a number of tweets, mostly oriented towards sharing hopeful news – such as reports of new treatment modalities, decreasing body counts and so on. But I received push back along the lines of “How dare you!” Spreading good news when the media is full time doom and gloom is to go against the zeitgeist. I had committed a thought crime. Sharing good news, asking a reasonable question, making an observation – if not 100% in line with the expert opinion of the day (or what people think is the expert opinion of the day, since they change frequently) is a thought crime. I deleted all of my tweets and walked away from Twitter.

Why would sharing good news be bad? When people are overcome with anxiety they seek to validate their feelings of anxiety. They begin to seek out information that confirms their perspective (also known as confirmation bias). This justifies their feelings of anxiety and makes it okay to be scared all the time. This is a real thing in psychology.

Reddit “Coronavirus” forum is pitched as a moderated-by-experts forum. But in reality, that just means people can post anything as long as it links to a well known media outlet story, even if the information is old, wrong or exaggerated. I stopped following this about 2 weeks ago as it devolved into much nonsense presented as quality facts.

On Facebook I began “hiding” any post that pops up having to do with Covid-19 – as the discussion always devolves into emotionally laden pitches. I have also taken to using the Hide for 30 days option on many people who are posting much on Covid-19; many of those also spend much time venting about politicians. None of this is emotionally healthy behavior.

The effect of all this is one angry person vents on social media, and that in turn inflames many more people into states of high emotion. They, in turn, then vent which impacts even more people. Pretty soon with have a mental health pandemic with an R-0 basic reproduction number of 20 to 100.

This is not healthy for anyone.

Having cut this over the past 1 to 2 weeks I am personally feeling a lot better. If you find yourself emotionally on edge, consider doing a “selective turn off” of social media, to take yourself away from the angry and emotionally unstable people.

I went even further and deleted dozens – perhaps nearly 100 posts – from my various blogs that had to do with Covid-19. (Did not actually delete them but marked them as “private” so they are not visible to others. Figure they can be a diary of sorts, to look back on in the future.)

The bottom line is that removing all the social media emotion from our lives can make us healthier.

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