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Is Trump coverage giving you social media fatigue?

Ginella Massa | posted Friday, Feb 3rd, 2017

Anyone who spends time on social media knows it can be the epicentre of Trump talk — from news articles to personal opinion. As a result, the place once used for posting vacation photos and connecting with friends has become a source of anxiety for many.

One psychologist warns the onslaught of negative news can have a detrimental impact on our mental well-being. “It’s kind of like we’re all showing that same ‘attentional’ bias that a depressed person would,” explains Steve Joordens. “It can feed that sense that the world is a bad place.”

He likens refreshing social media pages to the feeling of pulling the arm on a slot machine — constantly hoping to something new and exciting.

“You pull that arm and you know if you keep doing it, sooner or later you’ll get rewarded, you just don’t know when,” says Joordens. “With social media the reward is that piece of information. It could be positive or negative. You don’t know when it’s coming but you know it is coming.”

He says that’s what makes it so difficult to unplug, even when the information coming at us is the kind that could bring us down. “It’s the fact that you can have knowledge, that you’re aware and sometimes being aware of negative things is even more important to us because it allows us to protect ourselves rather than be oblivious.”

Joordens recommends three steps to detoxing from online negativity. The first is simply logging off social media. “Just getting away from it allows you to look at the real world and positives in your life,” he says.

Secondly, find perspective. Joordens points out that even the most bleak moments in history were eventually overcome, even if it didn’t feel like it could be in the moment. “We call this mindfulness in psychology. Sometimes the first step is to realize that things are overblown and it probably is being portrayed as worse than it really is.”

Finally, he suggests finding other activities and hobbies to unwind. “For me that’s playing music … getting in the basement with friends and doing something that’s analog.”

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