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Staying sane in a hyper-connected world without disconnecting.

Staying Sane In A Hyper-Connected World

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Staying Sane In A Hyper-Connected World

There’s a war over there, a genocide in progress somewhere else, and another disease is ravaging the population of somewhere most Americans would struggle to point out on the map. Not only that, but that one politician is at it again, and sweeping wildfires are not doing climate change any favors.

To borrow an expression from Gen-Z…

“Oof”.

A Very Modern Mental Health Menace

For thousands of years, we have had wars and genocides and plagues and corrupt politicians and assorted major disasters. Dire circumstances are not new to us as a species. So what is new?

As some reactionary said during the dot-com boom, “the Internet doesn’t make people stupid; it just makes their stupidity more accessible”.

The same is true now of The Horrors™.

The Internet doesn’t, by and large, make the world worse. But what it does do is make the bad things much, much more accessible.

Understanding and empathy are not bad things, but watch out…

  • When soldiers came home from the First World War, those who hadn’t been there had no conception of the horrors that had been endured. That made it harder for the survivors to get support. That was bad.
  • Nowadays, while mass media covering horrors certainly doesn’t convey the half of it, even the half it does convey can be overwhelming. This is also bad.

The insidious part is: while people are subjectively reporting good physical/mental health, the reports of the symptoms of poor physical/mental health from the same population do not agree:

Stress in America 2023: A nation grappling with psychological impacts of collective trauma

Should we just not watch the news?

In principle that’s an option, but it’s difficult to avoid, unless you truly live under a rock, and also do not frequent any social media at all. And besides, isn’t it our duty as citizens of this world to stay informed? How else can we make informed choices?

Staying informed, mindfully

There are steps that can be taken to keep ourselves informed, while protecting our mental health:

  • Choose your sources wisely. Primary sources (e.g. tweets and videos from people who are there) will usually be most authentic, but also most traumatizing. Dispassionate broadsheets may gloss over or misrepresent things more (something that can be countered a bit by reading an opposing view from a publication you hate on principle), but will offer more of an emotional buffer.
  • Boundary your consumption of the news. Set a timer and avoid doomscrolling. Your phone (or other device) may help with this if you set a screentime limit per app where you consume that kind of media.
  • Take (again, boundaried) time to reflect. If you don’t, your brain will keep grinding at it “like a fork in the garbage disposal”. Talking about your feelings on the topic with a trusted person is great; journaling is also a top-tier more private option.
  • If you feel helpless, help. Taking even small actions to help in the face of suffering somewhere else (e.g. donating to relief funds, engaging in advocacy / hounding your government about it), can help alleviate feelings of anguish and helplessness. And of course, as a bonus, it actually helps in the real world too.
  • When you relax, relax fully. Even critical care doctors need downtime, nobody can be “always on” without burning out. So whatever distracts and relaxes you completely, make sure to make time for that too.

Want to know more?

That’s all we have room for today, but you might like to check out:

You also might like our previous main features:

Take care!

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