Beating the Social Media Overwhelm
I struggle with the duality of social media. The connection, disconnection, and rollercoaster of emotions flooding my newsfeed and pinging notifications is overwhelming.
The world of social media is a tricky place to navigate as a empath.
The day after the presidential election, I found myself in Trump country. Looking for adventure in the north eastern corner of California, I was greeted by a community desperate for change. Counties that fought years against government regulation of their water supply. Farmers left broke and crop-less. A community united by hope. They were kind people, and had the election been weeks or months in the past, one would never know how polarized our political views were. There I was, surrounded by the magical California terrain, and humbled by a new understanding of my distant neighbors, yet all I could do was compulsively scroll my Facebook feed.
There I was, surrounded by the magical California terrain, and humbled by a new understanding of my distant neighbors, yet all I could do was compulsively scroll my Facebook feed.
Post-election Facebook was a dark corner of the internet. The fear, hate, and sheer disbelief battled the joy of the victorious. Like an accident on the freeway you can't tear your eyes from, the endless cyber emotions were intoxicating. I was a Facebook junkie--high until I made myself sick on the emotions of those friends and frenemies. I would take a break, come down, and then do it all over again. As an empath, social media is an exhausting tether to the world's social selves.
As an empath, social media is an exhausting tether to the world's social selves.
Deeply affected by the feelings and needs of other, I was unaware of my status as empath, until large social shifts began to overwhelm my Facebook feed. Empaths are deeply affected by the emotions and needs of those around them, making the internet an exhausting place to visit.
Conscious shifts and hashtags unite millions for a cause, but are isolating as an individual. Scrolling the endless posts of #metoo, delivered a whole series of emotions to unpack: sadness for sexism, grief for the individuals, worry for womanhood, overwhelm and a profound general depression from my own experiences. These are the times I am grateful for waves of change, but have to step away to ground myself in the physical world. It's far too easy to get swept away, and forget the world beyond the screen.
In moments like, I remind my empathetic self of the following:
- Social media is a tool to create good for the individual self. If it doesn't serve me, don't engage.
- If the desire to engage is too strong, take a break and walk away.
- No supporting someone online does not mean I don't support them IRL.
- For every drop of depression, there is at least a single drop of joy in my newsfeed. Find the joy.
- There's nothing wrong with silence, breaks, or pauses.
- The world I'm living is not on the internet.
Eventually, during that election weekend adventure, I forced myself to put the phone down, because the real world isn't just a television show.
Do you suffer from social media overwhelm? Are you an empath? Share your tips and experiences in the comments!