Social Media: How To Take Back Control Of What You're Consuming


Guess how many people use social media? A whopping 3.1 billion folks! That's roughly one-third of the earth's population. Out of those, guess how many are addicted to it? Reportedly, 210 million folks (with most of them being young single women).

Adding to these stats, 71 percent of people sleep with their smartphone, 50 percent check their socials while driving (SMH) and 10 percent of teenagers check their cells no less than 10 times a night. I bet out of all of those findings, the main thing you're probably wondering is what constitutes a real deal Holyfield social media addiction. That's fair.

According to experts on the topic, you're leaning towards being an addict if you—check your notifications every few minutes; update your locations constantly; can't go a day without posting something (that has nothing to do with your career or platform); have to keep your phone on and close to you at night; can't go a week without taking a selfie; can't put your phone away when you're spending time with other people; check your phone while you're driving or walking; have more "friends" online than off and you internally lose it when folks don't comment on your posts. Oh, and if you can't remember the last time you went on a social media fastif ever.


If you can check off four or more of these things, you are sho 'nuf a candidate for being a social media addict. It's problematic too, because this kind of addiction can affect your vision, give you bouts of loneliness and depression, put your productivity in jeopardy (which can put your job in jeopardy too), place a strain on your relationships and get you caught up in the illusion of the online world vs. the real one (which is offline).

I'm not sharing all of this with you so that you'll stop utilizing social media altogether. I'm simply sharing it so that you'll be intentional about protecting yourself from becoming an addict. More importantly, so that you'll take steps to protect yourself from all of the drama and negativity that is far more prevalent on social media than a lot of us realize.

And how can you do just that?

1. Go to a “Happy Place Site”—First


Before you decide to hop on to your favorite gossip blog (or vlog) or even a news outlet, how about going to a site or even someone's personal social media page that will be sure to put a smile on your face? Me? I like things like human interest stories on People, KevOnStage's YouTube channel (his semi-recent Righteous and Ratchet "Jess Hilarious + Cancel Culture" episode had some gems in it), GoodBlackNews.org, GoodNewsNetwork.org or ComedianShulerKing's page. You can also put a hashtag of a show that you missed, just to see the memes and comments so that you can get a good laugh in.

At least that way, you can start things off on a high note before all of the drama starts to creep in.

2. Remember What the Definition of Gossip Is


It tickles me whenever people tell me they hate gossip but then, not two minutes later, will go ham on some celebrity news like they know the people personally. I was an entertainment writer before I got more into the relationships and wellness lane and let me just tell you—NOTHING is what it seems. Please don't get caught up drinking so much hot tea that it burns you. Literally.

While we're on this topic, please also don't think that just because you don't listen to a lot of sensationalism or stuff that should be ran through fact-checking site at least a dozen times that it still doesn't constitute as being gossip. Although a lot of us only like to define gossip as being drama and rumors, it also means idle talk about people's private affairs, period.

An English philologist by the name of Robert Forby once said, "A dog that will fetch a bone, will carry a bone." If you add to that, grandmama's saying "Hit dog will holla" well…just be careful what you take in and what you do with it. Gossip may be entertaining, but it can also be quite destructive too (check out "Rumors, Gossip and Your Health").

3. Be Cautious in Giving (and Accepting) Unsolicited Advice


I don't know what makes so many of us think that people need our opinion and perspective on just about everything, but clearly, with currently 321 million monthly users on Twitter alone, we do. And while I'll be the first to say that Black Twitter must be protected at all costs, I'll also say that social media has turned a lot of people into either big bullies or big babies; if not a hybrid of the two.

It's very fascinating to me that someone will share their thoughts on their page and then here people come telling them how wrong and ridiculous they are. Then, when those same people receive the treatment they dished out to someone else, they want to get all salty or sensitive about it.

No one is going to like everything you post or say. You aren't gonna like everyone else's profiles either. AND THAT IS OK. Just accepting these two facts alone should make for a more peaceful social media world. But if you don't want to get constantly caught up in wasting more time than you've got, all because you decided to dish out advice/insight that wasn't asked for or because you got hyper-sensitive about what someone said to you, maybe you should think long and hard about if social media is the space for you. Or—and better still—you should be mindful about how you respond/react to something before you actually do it.

This brings me to the next point...

4. Be Honest (with Yourself) About Your Posts (BEFORE Posting)


A few months ago, I was having a conversation with someone who told me that they were going to get off of Instagram because they weren't getting as many likes on their posts as they wanted and it was pissing them off.

Gee, we've got a ranting Cheeto in human form for a president and hate crimes are reportedly up 17 percent since he's been in office, but someone is mad because their beach selfies aren't receiving rave reviews? With attitudes like that, it's no wonder that there are articles like "Social Media Has Created a Generation of Self-Obsessed Narcissists", "Excessive Posting of Photos on Social Media Is Associated with Increase in Narcissism" and "Is Social Media to Blame for the Rise In Narcissism?"

There's nothing wrong with selfies or basically anything else you want to post on your profile pages. After all, they're your pages. But posting really should be more about sharing your personality or brand, regardless of how others choose to respond to it; if at all.

Bottom line, if your motive for posting ANYTHING is so people can tell you how awesome you are all of the time, 1) you're setting yourself up to be just as pissed off as the person I just mentioned and 2) you're really setting yourself up to become a raging narcissist someday whether you realize it or not. And narcissists are full of drama and negativity—whether they are too arrogant to recognize it or not (again, "45" is a great reminder of this).

5. Count to 10 Before Responding—to ANYTHING


I've got a girlfriend (who shall remain nameless) who stays in some foolishness on social media. Why? Because let someone say something—anything—she doesn't like and she's letting them get at least a full paragraph's worth of her mind. All that does is get the initial poster or commenter all in a tizzy and, if her comment is buck enough, it brings others in on it too.

Listen, if y'all got time for that, have at it. But I'm willing to bet that if you've got a job (or you run a business), you're in a relationship and/or you're a mom, you don't have as much time as you think. For this reason alone, if someone triggers you online, do the same thing that you (hopefully) would if you were within earshot of them. Pause, count to 10, ask yourself if what you're about to say, you're prepared to go down in history (because on the internet, nothing ever gets truly deleted)—and then say it.

The drama on social media would drop at least 60 percent if folks put this into practice. I'd put some good money on that.

6. Don’t Get Attached to Trolls


Sometimes, the best thing about a post are the comments, that's for sure. But you can bet that there are some people who live to do nothing more than troll others (like the commenters on TMZ's page— SMH). If you're not exactly sure whether or not you're dealing with a highly-opinionated individual or an actual troll here are some signs of the latter—they usually have wack profiles (ones that make you wonder if a real person is running the account); they're going to want to argue about any and everything you have to say; they have nothing short of tunnel-vision when it comes to the way they see things; they live to bait you in, then tear you down while they rarely saying anything that's truly beneficial.

Sometimes trolls are so good at pushing buttons that you can get more invested than you ever should. If you know this is you, remember that you can always A) ignore them; B) delete their comments (when they are on your page) or C) block them altogether. (Watch how much freer you'll feel when you do!)

7. Insert the Golden Rule


Something that I find to be both fascinating and unfortunate is how much of a bulldozer so many people online are. Before you're like "Yeah!", it should go on record that less and less is it coming from just one side. Christians want non-Christians to shut up just as much as non-Christians want Christians to. If someone doesn't share a person's view on politics, sexuality, pop culture or any other hot topic, there is a campaign to immediately get them "cancelled". Ugh. It's dangerous to not let someone's voice be heard. It's equally as dangerous to try and silence it if it doesn't agree with your own.

Mama told us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Father MC put it this way—treat them like they want to be treated. I have pretty strong views on, well, just about anything. But I am confident enough in those views to hear other people out and to not feel attacked just because they may not agree with me.

It's a very insecure person who feels the need to force others to think/live as they do, and a ton of those people exist on social media. Try and avoid being one of them.

8. Offer a Silver Lining Perspective


One of my other girlfriends, I call her "glass half full" because she can see the upswing for just about anything. There's something really refreshing about that. It's like being a beacon of light in what can sometimes be a very dark place—or, as it relates to social media specifically, space.

One way that you can lighten things up a bit is to provide a silver lining to some of the news or gossip that is shared. I'm not saying be unrealistic or act like you live in a world filled with nothing but unicorns and rainbows. I'm just saying that sometimes all it takes is one positive point to totally shift the atmosphere of 20 negative statements.

9. Take Regular Breaks


I already know that some of y'all are NOT gonna receive this point, but I'm still gonna put it out there. It can never hurt to take a break from social media every few months. How much of a break? According to a lot of mental health experts, 30 full days. That means no logging on, no receiving notifications, no commenting—nothing.

If the thought of doing that already has you breathing through a brown paper bag, you should be the first in line to take it! It's proven that social media breaks can do everything from help you to realign boundaries and make you more productive to reduce your stress levels and give you a better night's rest.

Sadly, a lot of us stay irritable, not because of what's happening offline but what we're doing while we're on it. And since most of us are "plugged in" 11 hours a day…with all of the info and opinions that are constantly inundating our psyches, can't you see how your mind, body and spirit could benefit from reading a book or taking a stroll in the park? Without your phone?

10.  Try to Mind Your Own Business


Did you know that there is even a Scripture in the Bible that co-signs on staying in your own backyard? I Thessalonians 4:11(NKJV) says, "that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you".

I'll be the first to say that things people don't want to receive comments on, they shouldn't post them. But that doesn't mean that we should feel the need to comment on EVERYTHING. If you try and focus on what you've got going on in your world, even the part of the world that is your own social media profiles, you'll realize that you don't have the time or energy to always be up in other people's stuff.

If you don't have personal drama and negativity, the less you'll want to get caught up in someone else's. Especially people you barely even know. Feel me?

Featured image by Getty Images.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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