No, I don’t mean ghosting someone on social media that you've been dating - that would be heartless. I mean deactivating or deleting your social media accounts because all you see on your feed is trauma and it's taking a toll on your mental health.
As a journalist, it's second nature for me to want to stay “in the know" by watching the news and refreshing my timeline to stay updated on everything that’s happening around the world. With the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests, it's fair to say that the injustices we have witnessed have affected us, no matter where we are in the world. If we're not using social media to raise awareness and stay informed, then we’re constantly encouraged to "show up" or "build a brand", otherwise we risk becoming irrelevant.
The pressure to be plugged in at all times has caused us to consume an overload of information that is unhealthy for our brains to handle. While F.OM.O would creep in at the thought of even mentioning taking a social media hiatus to some people, I'm fine with not logging into my Instagram account for a couple of days or deactivating my Twitter, even for months at a time.
I am an advocate for taking frequent breaks away from screens. The reason for this is that over the years, I experienced burnout and "information overload" trying to keep up. I consumed everyone else’s content whilst neglecting the work that I wanted to create. I also found myself constantly distracted and couldn’t keep my focus on one thing for longer than five minutes. When I learned how social networking sites such as Instagram and Facebook were intentionally designed to keep us addicted to them, I made a conscious decision to take my power back.
On top of this, I am an empath and therefore it is even more important to me that I protect my peace, carefully filtering the information I consume online. I mute and restrict where necessary. I turn off my notifications when I feel I need to get work done and don't give in to the ping of Whatsapp messages just because my brain has been "conditioned" to do so. If I find myself distracted and opening the Instagram app, I allow myself to scroll down my feed until I reach 5 posts and then shut the app down.
Some may find it “weird” or “extra”, but I believe that excessive consumption can be toxic. Limiting the consumption of anything that may be affecting your mental health is much more important than being plugged in 24/7 in the name of being "in the know". I stand by the saying “prevention is better than cure”, and if that means removing myself completely, then that's exactly what I will do.
When it comes to "ghosting" on social media, I don't see it as a good or bad thing. I see it as a form of protecting your mental health, which should be a priority for us all.
If you think about your home, you clean it regularly, decorate it in a way that is aesthetically pleasing and you have security in place to protect it. You're also mindful about who you allow in your home. Why? Because you know that they could have the potential to destroy it. This is exactly how we should view the responsibility of taking care of our mental health.
In my opinion, material possessions or external validation does not mean anything if you do not have peace of mind. This is why we frequently hear about celebrities and public figures that seemingly have it all together but behind closed doors deal with poor mental health and substance abuse issues. Nothing works better than protecting your boundaries, upholding your values and cultivating time for self-love and care. Making the time to step back and take control of our lives while maintaining an inner peace regardless of what is going on in the world is priceless.
When I am offline, I still manage to stay informed about current events by consuming the news in moderation. If something is important to me, then I ensure I have a way of knowing about it, otherwise it probably isn’t that important. As the saying goes, "you're not missing out on anything when you're getting your life together”. I am a firm believer of this. When it comes to social media, I will never apologise for having boundaries in place to protect my peace - and neither should you.
Written by Tracy Winu Landu
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