Out of the Rabbit Hole
/ Author: Gordon O'Coin
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Out of the Rabbit Hole

Social media can be a time and energy waster, and can negatively affect your mental health

By Gord O'Coin, CLAC Regional Director

We are living in a very interesting era. If you’re anything like me, social media is the primary news source of your life. We receive up-to-minute information of what is happening in the world around us, and the need to know everything at all times can be enthralling.

 We get the latest updates on the teachers strike here in Ontario, what our provincial and federal governments are doing, sports news, and what happened at the Oscars—even though many of us didn’t even know it was on! Social media has allowed us to be more connected with the world than any previous era.

It’s fantastic that all this information is available to us 24 hours a day. However, over the past few weeks (or likely much longer), I’ve found myself falling into the social media trap. I’ve found myself staring at my devices for hours, even though it only feels like a few minutes. The trap for me isn’t the latest news, but the comments section of any news. It doesn’t matter whether the article is considered good news or a controversial subject, click on the comments and it all becomes fair game. Everyone with a device is entitled their unbridled hatred of the news or other commenters, and if you want to hide that it’s really you, just make up an alias and make it count.

I’ve never commented on social media, although I admit there have been many times I would like to. However, I find just reading the comments significantly affects my mental health. I find myself staring at my device with feelings of anger, frustration, and anxiety based on simple comments that aren’t even directed at me, someone I know, or a topic I even care about. Earlier this week, I found myself down the rabbit hole of comments about Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscars speech. I can’t recall previously hearing about this actor, his movie, or claim to know anything about him. But while reading the comments about his speech I felt anger, frustration, and hatred toward people I didn’t even know.

I’m aware of how social media is able to negatively affect mental health and have experienced it firsthand. To enhance my mental health and get away from the rabbit hole of opinions on everything from teachers strikes to Quentin Tarantino, I’ve committed myself to limiting the time I spend on social media—particularly the comments section. Spending quality time with family and friends and focussing on the good all around me is so much more important than reading a random person spout off on the state of the government or the latest hockey trade.

If you find yourself caught in social media’s vortex of negativity, find opportunities throughout your day to unplug and focus on the positive in your personal life and work life. And stay away from the comments section!





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