With the climate the United States is in, it isn’t hard to believe that too much social media can cause vicarious trauma, depression and just a sense of defeat. People have become politically engaged and informed via social media (I don’t need to name the outlets). This is both good and bad. Good, because having knowledge of the things that affect your world is important. Having terminology, history, ECT., is great especially for those who haven’t been afforded the privilege to receive a formal education. However, this week I tweeted (yes social media), “people have the wokest thumbs ever.” My goodness it was like you can’t win for losing with social media. It was so much discord and chaos this week over kneeling during the nation anthem. Whether what it stood for, who was affected, and getting people to join the movement. But one opinion after another was like, “welp, what’s the point?” You try to educate people, to be objective, to take all this with a grain of salt but yet it’s like a never ending battle. Something that pissed me off to the point where I signed off of all social media (for a whole 3 hours) was the Steelers nonsense and big stupid Ben. I will not go into anything else involving him but I will say if you were going to be a team you should’ve stayed a team and not reneged. If you all made a decision to avoid drama and stay inside and then come out when you are faced with controversy ad deny any part of the protest you should’ve just went outside and stood. It broke my heart. I was so very proud that people were paying attention people were finally getting it. But then it was like never mind just kidding. Don’t get me started on Ray Lewis. Any who I’m straying away from my point. Access to so so many opinions and beliefs, can have negative effects on your emotions.
Vicarious trauma is a term often used in the mental health world by workers in this field who suffer the same or similar effects of a person they are treating who has suffered a traumatic experience. So you may have a person that comes and talks about shootings that occurred in their neighborhood and has caused them to avoid certain people places or things that can cause them to recall the painful event. Vicarious trauma allows you to experience the same avoidance symptoms as the person without directly experiencing the trauma.
I started writing this post last week as I was experiencing some disturbing emotions and I had to take a break and turn off my computer and cell phone due to too much exposure to negativity. However, I felt the need to pick the topic back up because if I, someone well verse in the topic can still experience this, can feel this way then someone who lives on social media can as well.
Here’s how you notice you are suffering: after reading the posts and endlessly scrolling and seeing the same things, your mood is affected and carries over into your daily living. You are irritable and or begin to avoid topics, people, places, and things that remind you of event. An unfortunate example is all that would avoid a concert or open/ public places due to the shooting in Vegas. Another one is something I have experienced myself, being followed by a police. It is naturally our (black people) response to immediately record the interaction or to contact a loved one, although we have never actually witnessed a shooting in person. Last year my husband was pulled over by a disgruntled police officer. I’m not sure why he was so upset but my husband threw his hands up and called me immediately. I went straight to fb live (if you know me you know I can’t stand the thing). I snatched my children out of the car and into the house in fear that they might witness their father be hurt over plates that were a week past being reregistered. So, although I have never been in this situation, I have witnessed this so many times via facebook and my body’s response was to flee.
I know we are connected to people and events via social media. However, sometimes you need to turn it off and take care of yourself. Here are some of my favorite ways:
- Beyonce: Listen to anything Beyonce and put it as loud as possible and pretend you’re on dancing with the stars. Dancing allows you to move negative energy around and out of your body. It decreases tension. Singing regulates your breathing. Oxygen is good for you… you’re taking deep breathes and you don’t even know it!
- Do something with your loves ones. It helps you put into perspective what matters most. And you don’t even need money. One of my family’s favorite things to do is take a walk. All four of us up and down the street. We laugh and talk.
- Comfort food, May not go along with today’s vegan wave (no shade I promise) but imagine eating warm apple crisp and vanilla ice cream… yup! Savor that.
- DO WHATEVER FEELS GOOD TO YOUR SOUL! You are so worth it! Love YOU!