Detox your news and social media feed

COLIN HORNING, Sports Editor

Keeping up with current events is something that everyone should be doing. Knowing what is going on in the world around you is critical to make informed decisions when it comes to voting, making purchases and just being in the know about what is happening. But recently, I’ve grown into the opinion that constantly being connected with the news can be more detrimental than beneficial in many ways. It has adverse effects on one’s mental health, wellbeing and general outlook on the world.

Since around last summer, I have more or less completely stopped following the news cycle. It began to feel like a treadmill that was going faster and faster and eventually became too hard to stay on, so I jumped off altogether. For the most part, I’ve noticed that I haven’t missed a story of importance. Generally speaking, if a news story is truly important enough to you, then it will have its way of finding you instead of you having to actively seek it out (for example, COVID-19 would have found you even if you didn’t follow the news cycle). But actively seeking out the news causes damage to one’s mental health. A study from the American Psychological Survey back in May of 2020 found that for most people, “news consumption has a downside.” The study discovered that more than half of Americans reported feeling stressed or anxious from the news, yet nearly one in five Americans check their social media feeds “constantly,” which exposes them to the latest headlines even though they might be seeking the latest viral videos. The constant connection to the news equates to a constant connection to one’s mental health, as the study would suggest.

I believe that a study isn’t even necessary to prove that the news cycle is bad for mental health. Upon deleting all of the news apps and unfollowing most news profiles on my social media, I’ve noticed improvements in my mental health. I don’t feel the need to constantly find out what is going on in the world, and usually I’ll still hear about an important news story through word of mouth or general buzz going on. I’ve realized that most news stories on cable news or online are really not important information to know and are instead just used to fill up time on the air or to place content on websites. While there are of course important things to know, such as the results of elections or weather, most things on the news can be done without. Along with that, most news stories are incredibly negative and depressing. Think about coronavirus updates. Every single day, there is a higher death toll and case count. Constantly having that information wired to your brain day in and day out over the span of several months is too much to handle. It’s no wonder why constantly filling your head with negative information can lead to adverse effects on your mental health.

The same goes for social media consumption. In general, it’s where most people get their news, so the two go hand-in-hand. The debate about social media and mental health is a whole different story, but limiting one’s use of Facebook and Twitter will make you feel better about things. Constantly checking updates every single hour of every single day leads to an overall decline in mental health, especially over a long period of time.

I’m not advocating to completely seal oneself off from the news. Instead of always feeling like keeping up with the latest hourly updates, try and keep it to a minimum. Like I said, I only follow a couple news outlets on social media, along with limiting my social media use in general. Doing so will increase your outlook on the world positivity, and you will notice staunch improvements in your mental health by detoxing the news cycle.