A Guide To Surviving Bad News Online
After struggling to deal with the intensity of the Paris attacks on social media, Grace tried to figure out how to deal with bad news online.
These days, it seems like bad news is never ending. Each day brings word of a new natural disaster, another airstrike or a trending name signalling an untimely death. Social media is now the top medium for breaking news and our ability to endlessly scroll and refresh as tragedies unfold is making us all feel like the world is in a constant state of chaos. Believe it or not, the world is actually getting safer. Child mortality has halved since 1990, deaths in warfare have fallen and terrorist attacks are in fact declining.
Of course this doesn’t at all mean that awful things aren’t happening. You only have to scroll through your timeline for two minutes before seeing an injustice. Never before have people been exposed to how much is going on in the world and there are no rules for how to exist online in these situations. Are tweets the only way to show solidarity? Should you change your Facebook photo in support? These are questions people are asking, but no one really knows the answer.
This isn’t an exclusive list to dealing with social issues and tragedies online, but it’s a start in learning how to deal with your own online interactions when they happen.
You can put down your phone or close your laptop. You can walk away from whatever is in front of you. Our access to developing news means naturally, we want to know what’s happening. We often feel we owe it to humanity to observe but know your limits. It’s not your personal responsibility to know every detail, no matter how compelled you are. If constant refreshing isn’t helpful for you, walk away and speak to someone you trust.
Think Before You Post.
Having a reaction to the news of a tragedy or injustice is good. The people who are most moved are those who affect change in some way. However, when something occurs we could all do with holding off on the tweets, statuses and general noise.
Remember #Kony2012? It was a weird Twitter activism one-night stand that went from righteous outrage to confusion to a tweet-deleting frenzy from embarrassment in a matter of hours. Take a few minutes to consider what you’re posting and whether it’s adding anything to the conversation. Palestinians’ tear gas advice tweets to Ferguson protestors were a great example of how posting can positively affect a situation. If you have nothing to add, staying silent doesn’t mean you don’t care.
Don’t Share Unverified Information.
Unverified information clutters timelines for those seeking to learn and also for those who are involved in unfolding situations. If you don’t know what’s happening seek verified news reports. You wouldn’t take all of LadBible’s posts as gospel, so don’t assume all tweets are perfect truth. Curate your timelines to feature trusted sources (some individuals can be more reliable than news accounts) to give you correct and up-to-date information when you need it.
Don’t Read Comments.
We all know exactly what we’re going to find in comment sections; a vitriol of hate speech at worst and a photoless account attacking someone’s grammar at best. It’s tempting to look just to satisfy curiosity, but save yourself the trouble.
Consider Dedicating Yourself To Specific Causes.
When it comes to taking action, consider choosing a few causes you can commit to. This doesn’t mean that you can’t support others, but having two or three things that you’re dedicated to will be more effective and less consuming than trying to help every situation as it happens. The Nelson Mandelas, Johnettas and Derays and Malalas of the world are proof that when you find a cause and stick to it, you’ll get a lot further.
Do bear in mind that what you choose to fight for isn’t more or less important than someone else’s cause or another situation. There’s enough pain and suffering in this world without comparing whose is the worst.
Do you feel like all you see is bad news? Do you ever have to step back from the constant influx of information? If you thoughts we want to hear them. Tweet us – @rifemag – or get in touch on FB – Rife Magazine
Feel Good Fridays are the perfect way for you to chill with friends and get away from the Internet for a while.