How to Survive When The Media Divides

“All for one and one for all, united we stand divided we fall.” -Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers

There’s this thing we’re all told to do by bloggers and influencers and companies in the wellness space for our self-care and sanity’s sake, but most of us probably don’t do it: disconnect from the media. As in, take a break. Not just from social media, but from all the media we’re ingesting that contributes to major issues in our country right now like extensive divisiveness and disconnection. 

What we know is this: when we flip on the tv or browse through recent articles for current events, we’re bombarded by points of view that may or may not be aligned with our own, fueled by media outlets like Fox News, CNN, and the like. Then we hop on Facebook and find those same points of view reflected in our feeds, fed by our family members, friends, old high school buddies, and more. This latest 2020 data reports that the average social media user spends two hours and 24 minutes on social media each day. That’s almost 20 hours per week of ingesting media that’s dividing us at a rate faster than light travels. As we continue to take in these opinions and points of view, our relationships continue to decline, we continue losing friends, and our lives continue to disconnect from people who we had healthy relationships with before the onslaught of chaos we now deal with.

One of the most impactful, profound pieces of the puzzle is the fact that the people we’re being divided from are people we actually liked when you remove the media influence from our relationships. The fact of the matter is, we need other people, we need friendships and relationships and human interaction as part of our way of life, and we’re losing parts of that with each television segment and each post that is a result of it. The more we fall down the rabbit-hole, the more our existence separates into two distinct sides, each out for themselves and what they believe. The fallout is catastrophic.

You have the family members’ posts and long threads of retaliatory comments that show everyone in their friends list that Thanksgiving is going to be super awkward at their house this year. Perhaps you should invite them to your Thanksgiving celebration.

You have the jackasses from high school posting things that get them blocked and un-friended as people from their past fall away and the divisiveness continues, old friendships meeting their demise over a particularly outspoken post fueled by a CNN segment that aired last night.

You have acquaintances you’re now forming full opinions of based solely on their social feeds, what they share, and what they have to say about current events. All this when beyond these things, you may barely know these people and again, actually liked them prior to the regurgitation of the media they’re sharing all over your feed.

All of the above are reasons it’s important to disconnect from the media at regular intervals for your own well-being and sanity, and for the sake of holding onto your relationships and preventing the great divide from infiltrating into your life. We don’t see clearly when we’re seeing through the lens of media manipulation. We don’t hear the full stories when we’re listening through the lens of media manipulation. And we certainly aren’t given both, or all, sides to consider through the lens of media manipulation. We’re given only what that particular outlet wants us to see, to hear, to know, and this is where the problem takes root and begins growing from.

Taking a break, however long or short, from the media and from social media serves as a form of both self-restoration and life-preservation during times like the present. It allows us to reconnect with both ourselves and with the real world around us that exists outside of our televisions and devices, the world that isn’t reliant on one side versus the other. It allows us to preserve relationships that are important to us, keep our views and favorable insight of others in our lives intact, and base our friendships on more than just what someone does or does not post on their Facebook feed.

This Psychology Today article outlines several great ways to integrate a social media break into your life that starts with small steps. They suggest things such as:

  • Turning off notifications and setting virtual boundaries. This can be a great way to detach from the obsessive need to check those notifications the instant they come in and begin creating some space from your social media, and therefore creating space to nurture the relationships in your life away from social media and focus on what you truly enjoy about the people in your life, not on the opinions they present on social media. This is a perfect place to start small for someone who has gotten so intertwined with social media that they have anxiety over stepping away from it. Turning off notifications will free up brain space for you to be more creative, engage with other people in real life, and focus on your productivity more, as well as your self-care routines.

  • Schedule “social media free days.” Whether it’s Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, or the entire weekend, scheduling social media free days can reduce your social media use drastically and put you more in tune with the world around you and give you the opportunity to focus on the relationships in your life for what they are - the phone conversations after dinner, the running into each other at the grocery store, or the sharing of recipes or that new steak rub you love. These are the everyday things relationships are built on, not the opinions presented on social media that fan the flames of disconnection.

  • Delete social media apps from your smartphone. This forces us to only access sites like Facebook when we’re at home, in front of our computers. This not only allows us to live in the moment when we’re out experiencing the world, but also to back away from the constant stream of opinions and shares that cause the divisiveness we’re creating among ourselves. 

When we step away from the piece of the puzzle that’s creating the great divide, the media and the constant resharing of the media with our own opinions attached, we can reset our brains, minimize the impact of media manipulation in our lives, and save our relationships. Our jackass friends from high school can remain our jackass friends from high school. Our family members can remain in the family-drama zone rather than expanding out into the political-drama zone as well. And we can keep our friendly relationships with our acquaintances just that - friendly relationships rather than forging unnecessary enemies due to endless FOX News reposts. You deserve a life of rewarding, fulfilling relationships that are not based solely on the opinions of current events. Do yourself a favor and consider stepping away from the influence that’s dividing us in favor of reconnecting with yourself, your friends, and your loved ones.




Amanda Gist
Amanda Gist

Author



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