Coping With Election Media Overload

By Alisha Bennet, LMSW

The upcoming election is scary to almost everyone I know: right, left and independent.  Our cell phones and computers provide us with instant, 24-hour access to every meme, news article and social media post.  Generally, we all have a natural inclination to defend our point of view or argue against an opposing opinion, but this election in particular has brought out much stronger emotions in all of us.  As a result there are even more posts, tweets and memes, news articles and opinions.

More and more people say they can’t wait until this election is over. One common reason is the contention and aggression on our own social media feeds.  Having direct access to how family and friends think about particular candidates adds increased stress and frustration. We know that people will continue to post images, articles and opinions that we strongly disagree with, so what can we do until this election is over?

Here are some ideas:

  • If you find yourself getting annoyed or angry when you read the same person’s post on Facebook, unfollow them. This doesn’t end your online friendship with them, but will get their posts out of your feed. The only way you'll be able to see their posts is if you actually go to their page and read them.
     
  • If a family member or friend is constantly posting articles and opinions that are really upsetting you, don't actively go out of your way just to read their posts. This is only going to get you upset, stressed and angry.
     
  • If you want to reply to someone else’s post or share your own post, draft out what you want to say before posting it. You may find that you edit or change your wording so that it is more objective and may decrease the chances of provoking an online argument.
     
  • If you find yourself getting into an online argument, avoid personal attacks and stick to backed up facts about the issue. If someone writes a comment that you feel is way off base, always feel free to disengage and not respond. Or just remove their comments from your post.
     
  • If you are spending too much time reading about this election online, and it is distracting you from your work, social life or relationships, give yourself set breaks during the day with time limits. For example, decide to only spend 15 minutes during your lunch break and 15 minutes when you get home from work to read online election updates. 
     
  • Try to avoid reading articles and posts right before you go to bed and immediately when you wake up. Often our phones are the last thing we check at night and the first thing we check in the morning. Until the election is over, try to avoid opening any apps that will give you access to the election at these times. Maybe try reading a book (not on your phone or about the election) right before you go to sleep, and set a limit in the morning to not check any apps until after you’ve left the house for work.

Alisha Bennett, LMSW is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy.  If you are looking for support with managing social media habits and anxiety, visit cobbpsychotherapy.com to learn how therapy might be able to help.