Hey there, it’s me, Demetrius. How’s it going? I’m doing well, all things considered, but I’ll be honest with you. A lot of what I’m seeing online is stressing me out. I’m worried about people losing access to healthcare. I’m worried that children fleeing a war zone will find no succor nor safe harbor in the one place that should be a shining beacon of hope to the world, and I’m worried that none but those at the height of wealth and power will have their lives bettered over the next 4 years. How about you, feeling the same? I hear ya, trust me, it’s a stressful time. There are some realities you just cannot avoid, but what you can avoid is letting your online life stress you out. Full disclosure here, these are things that I do, so I’m not guaranteeing that they’ll work for everyone in equal measure. That said, here’s how to make your online life a little less stressful* (*results may vary, obviously)
Delete Facebook, or any other social media application, from your phone
The only reasons I really use my Facebook is the fact that I have a page for the blog and because it’s a really simple way to manage party invites. Shameless plug: Go like us on Facebook. I wont flood your timeline with memes or anything. Besides that, it’s pretty much just a source of anxiety for me, and a way to see the same content posted by different people. Sure, there are occasionally some interesting updates, or baby pictures (which I love. I Fucking Love Baby Pictures you guys), but tell me I’m lying when I say that most people’s feeds are full of the same recycle content, “If you agree, share/copy & paste” campaigns, or complaining about a brand or customer service experience. Bless your heart if that’s how you use Facebook, no shade to you, but it’s just not my thing. Seeing that sort of stuff day after day started to annoy me, which started to stress me out. Because I use Facebook as a tool, rather than a meme sharing platform, I realized that deleting the application from my phone was probably a good idea. Having all that stress be a click away was getting to be too much, and I found that it was doing more harm than good in my life. All in all, I realized that having the application on my phone was more anxiety inducing than not, so I deleted it. I still check Facebook, but only on the web. And I have to tell you, it feels great. You wont believe how freeing it is to not get Facebook notifications all day long on your phone.
Speaking of notifications…
Turn off your notifications
Let’s say the idea of deleting Facebook, or Instagram, or even the dating apps you’re using seems a bit too extreme. Sometimes, these apps can help you by making you feel more connected to the world. That’s fine, but the problem really is the notifications. Those notifications, those constant pop ups throughout the day, can be a huge source of anxiety. Here’s what I suggest. Turn off your notifications. I only have notifications turned on for Twitter, but only when I’m retweeted or tweeted to. Everything else, including Instagram, Bumble, Tinder, OkCupid, Email, etc., I’ve turned them all off. The constant alerts started to feel like a never-ending tasks list, and what started off as a great way to keep track of what was going on across the internet soon became the “Honey do” list from hell. So let me ask you: In a group chat that’s pinging you all day and it’s starting to annoy you? Getting hundreds of notifications on Facebook after you replied to a comment? The constant pop ups from of your dating apps has become unceasing drone? Turn off your notifications.
Don’t argue with strangers on the internet
I get the desire to correct people, and I get the desire to educate people, and I understand how you think that you might be doing a good thing by working to quell ignorance, but chances are good that you’re probably not. Like at all. If we all lived in a world where facts, indisputable information that has been confirmed, wasn’t readily available at our fingertips at every single waking moment of the day, I’d be totally fine with arguing with people in an effort to educate them. But we don’t live in that world. We live in a world where, if you wanted to know the truth about anything, like say the rate of unauthorized immigration, or the crime rate, or whether or not law enforcement in certain cities have a proven pattern of using excessive force, you can find credible sources for accurate information in an instant if you were willing to put in an iota of effort. Arguing with people who go out of their way to be willfully ignorant, people who rely on belief rather than logic, people whose entire thought process is based on cognitive dissonance, is pointless, and an unnecessary stressor. Maybe you’ve been lulled in this weird obsession the internet has with seeing people have their arguments *DESTROYED* but I have to tell you, unless someone is paying you to argue with strangers on the internet, it ain’t worth it.
Whatever your politics or opinions might be, someone on the internet will disagree with them. Or worse, they do the whole “I’m just playing devil’s advocate” which is just a nice way to say “I just want to argue with you and I could care less about the merits of your argument so I’ll just keep proposing outlandish, hypothetical situations”. You might feel the urge to argue, because obviously you’re right and they just need to see your point of view, but why bother? Stop arguing with these people. If your goal in arguing on the internet is to prove your wit, maybe just write a blog instead. Why not try to make money on your clever mind instead of trying to *DESTROY* people in comment threads? Consider using your energy toward writing opinion pieces instead of responding to someone’s racist friend on Facebook.
Let’s say that you rightly believe that all people deserve human rights, and you’re arguing with someone who thinks only White men deserve human rights, how could you ever win that argument? What do you gain by arguing with someone who is that willfully ignorant? What could you post on their Facebook wall that makes them say “You know what, maybe other people SHOULD have human rights. This political cartoon has changed my opinion. Thank you.”. It’s a waste of your time, and will always be fruitless. I’m all for educating people who want to learn, but remember that It’s okay to let people wallow in their ignorance if that’s truly what they want. You can’t save everybody.
In fact, don’t argue with anyone whose opinion doesn’t matter to you
This goes for the internet, but also offline life in general. There are very few people I’ll have an argument with, and those people include my family, and some of my closest friends. Besides that, eh, I couldn’t be bothered. I don’t care that some people are ignorant, because I don’t believe in putting in the thankless job of trying to educate people I don’t love. If my friends are misinformed, I’ll tell them. Friends of theirs who think the Earth is flat? They can flounder in the depths of their unenlightenment for all eternity for all I care. I know it sounds tough to do, but I suggest giving it a shot. The next time you’re on whatever social media outlet you use, and someone who you kind of know, but whose opinion means fuck-all to you says something that sounds stupid as hell, or sounds like an opening for an argument, ignore them. Then do it again. And so on, and so on. I’m not saying you need to ignore every single stupid thing people say, but you don’t need to engage in every argument, especially if doing so is stressing you out.
Now, you might be the sort of person who says things like “if we’re intolerant, doesn’t that make us just as bad as them?”. Or maybe you’re the sort of person who believes “If you only surround yourself with like-minded people, you’ll live in an echo chamber. AND THAT’S WHATS WRONG WITH THE WORLD”. To both points I say..nah. Those things sound good in theory, but that’s not really how the world works. You know how the great achievements of mankind happen? You know how we got to the moon, or split the atom, or learned to fly? Like-minded people get together, and worked together, to accomplish a common goal. I’m fairly certain that the Wright Brothers disagreed on some of the small things in life, but I’m 100% certain they both agreed that they could build a machine that could make a man fly. You can disagree on some things, but it’s stupid to think that you should tolerate all people’s opinions, especially the opinions of people who believe that your people shouldn’t exist. I’m all for dissenting opinions, but at some point you have to realize that it’s counterproductive to argue with the hateful and bigoted of the world, or to include them in your life at all. Could you imagine if there was a scientist working on Project Apollo that thought the Sun revolved around the Earth? Could we have harnessed the power of the atom if half the people at Los Alamos thought that nuclear fission was just a myth perpetuated by China? Could you imagine if, 6 days before Holocaust Remembrance Day, one of the most widely seen newspapers in all the world asked if it was okay to punch Nazis? All of those scenarios are clearly so far-fetched because they’re so ridiculous! I understand the desire to be open-minded, but at some point you have to realize that you don’t have to be open-minded about everything.
Especially opinions that fly in the face of established & proven facts.
ESPECIALLY opinions whose basis is bigotry.
I’m all for trying to convince the people who matter to you of things that are important, but don’t waste your time on people who don’t matter. Not every opinion has worth, nor are all opinions worth arguing over.
Spend time offline doing things you love
Just a friendly reminder: Your online life is opt-in, so whenever it’s stressing you out too much, opt-out for a while. Sometimes you just need to get out there and do the things you love to de-stress, things that can only happen offline. Whatever you love to do, go do it. It doesn’t have to involve actually going outside, per se, but just get offline and do the thing you love. Put your phone in your pocket and read a book. Or play a video game. Or go meet your friends and talk about nothing for hours. Or call someone you love and tell them you love them. Whatever it is, just get off of social media and do it. And don’t make it part of your online life either. Take a picture and just keep the picture in your phone, rather than posting it on Instagram. Hang out with friends and don’t post about it on Facebook. Go on a date and don’t tweet about it.
To close, I just want to say that while these tips might help you when it comes to your online life, but here’s one tip that works for all facets of your life. If something is stressing you out, and taking more from your life than it gives, drop it. That includes dating apps and social media, but that also includes interacting with certain people, commenting on blog threads, having conversations about certain topics with certain people, and so on. You can’t choose everything in life, but if something that you choose to include in your life is a constant source of stress, get rid of it if you can.
Good Luck Out There.