Some of y'all might recall a couple of years back when I wrote an article for the site entitled, "How To Handle Folks Who 'Trigger' You". Hmph. Let me just say from very up close and personal experience that once you have truly mastered how to "deactivate your triggers" (oh, and control your physical and sexual appetite yet that's another topic for another time), you are pretty much unstoppable.
And while a lot of what I said in that piece could translate to how you handle your Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts, I thought it would also be beneficial to offer up some tips on how to handle those specific kinds of triggers. Because since most folks spend around 2 ½ hours a day on various social media accounts, it's really important to know how to navigate the rocky waters known as the internet — how not to let people (or content) get (or keep) you shook.
1. Remember, Social Media Isn’t Therapy
Not too long ago, I was having a conversation with someone who asked me if I thought they shared too much on social media. My response was, "I think the bigger question is do you think you expect too much from it?"
Listen, people are fickle. Humans are fallible. And when you're interacting with dozens, if not hundreds or thousands of them at a time, you are setting yourself up to, at the very least, be disappointed.
You're grown, so if you want to tell all of your business on your pages, that is totally up to you. However, sitting around taking in opinions about your personal life, dilemmas and traumas all day is setting you up to be disappointed more than helped. I have a motto — social media ain't therapy. Sure, it might be free to use yet therapists/counselors/life coaches are far more equipped to give you what you need than a whole lot of random commenters. If you remember this point alone, it can spare a lot of triggering. Trust me.
2. Use It for a Purpose. More than a Distraction.
If you've ever been curious about the history of social media, an article worth checking out (that was published by Maryville University) is "The Evolution of Social Media: How Did It Begin, and Where Could It Go Next?". A line in it says, "In less than a generation, social media has evolved from direct electronic information exchange, to virtual gathering place, to retail platform, to vital 21st-century marketing tool." Indeed. Yet, let's be real — it's also turned into a cesspool for gossip, trolling and passive aggressive ways to target people. Although I don't personally use social media, I see various purposes that it can serve and that's kind of my point — remember the purpose for why you are using it. If all that you're on there for is to see which real housewife is in some mess or to spend hours talking about how men are trash (eye roll), all that's doing is wasting precious time. Plus, how is that improving you and your life on any substantial level?
Am I saying that social media shouldn't be fun? Sure, it should. Yet really think about why it can easily take up hours and hours of your day. If you can't connect it to how it's helping you progress on some level, that's a good enough reason to scale back. Even if it's just a little bit.
3. Customize Your Notifications
Other than having a low-key social media addiction (check out "Social Media: How To Take Back Control Of What You're Consuming"), I'm not sure what would make us watch our phone ring and then let it go to voicemail and yet see notifications go off and think that we immediately need to check every single one. And then, based on what we see, let it totally throw us off and even put us in a not-the-best-kind-of mood for hours on end. That's why I'm all about folks learning how to customize their notifications so that only certain ones go off or they are reminded to only check them during certain times of the day. Listen, keeping up with the monkey-branching hamster wheel dynamic of Ben and J.Lo isn't going to help you to finish that report that's due, clean up your bedroom or pay those bills.
Besides, if there's one thing about the internet, it's that, whatever's been posted, you can find it by doing a quick Google search hours, days and even years later. In other words, you're really not missing much to the point where you need to act with a sense of urgency; regardless of how much your notifications go off. Anyway, if you want to learn more about this particular point, check out Shift's "How to Avoid Notification Overload" and then consider doing what it says. You shouldn't be a slave to your notifications. You've got the power not to be.
4. Post Something Positive to Combat Negativity
Negative bias is a real thing. If you don't believe me, ask someone to share with you five things they like about themselves followed by five things that they don't; I'd be shocked if they didn't list the things that they don't like first. This is why a lot of people can be drawn to bad news more than good news. Unfortunately, social media has plenty of the former. If, as much as you like being on Black Twitter or surfing IG, this is what gets on your nerves the most, be a light in your little part of cyberspace by posting something positive — a quote, a great picture…something that will inspire others. It might not seem like you're doing much on the surface yet you'd be amazed how much something this simple can help to shift energy, even if it's only on your own pages. Just try it and see.
5. Actually Use the “Mute” Feature
I'll be honest — when I do tiptoe in to see what folks are doing out in social media, it's like it's a social media experiment on how many people know what a monologue vs. a dialogue actually is. In other words, while social media apps are supposed to be about communicating with others, some folks just want others to hear them talk all day long and so, whenever someone else doesn't think they've got the greatest thoughts ever, they mute or block them. Yeah, one day we'll get into the rise of social media narcissism. For now, I'll just say that I once read an article that stated social media has caused a 25 percent increase in narcissism among people who are between the ages of 18-34. So, when I talk about using the mute feature that's available on most apps, I'm not advising this to folks who only want to hear themselves speak.
No, what I mean is some folks are contrary just to be contrary. They don't want to get to know you better, hear your point of view or have a healthy exchange. They really just want to be assholes. If as much as you know that, you still can't seem to shake how they affect you, then yeah — mute 'em. That way, they can keep on ranting if they want without you having to see it. By the way, the mute feature is also cool for if you want to hop online but you need a break from someone else's timeline traffic or you want to mute a word so that you don't have to keep hearing about the same things over and over again. Muting is a social media feature and a blessing. Use it as another way to deactivate an online trigger.
6. Know What You Know
Back in my Facebook days, many years ago, I set my page up to be a free forum for folks to share their thoughts. One rule that I had, even when it came to what folks said to and/or about me, was I wouldn't delete any comments. And boy, did that make things really interesting. Anyway, even back then, I had to really get pushed to get upset because I could tell who was sharing an opinion vs. who was actually speaking facts.
Something that's kinda crazy about social media is how many people are so passionate about their own feelings and conclusions that they think they are truth-based data when opening up a Google browser can oftentimes easily prove otherwise. That said, there is a pandemic of unteachable people on social media — individuals who think they know every damn thing (and don't). There's no point in letting those kinds of folks get to you. If you know that what you know can be proven and cited, share the info and then let the potential debate go. Facts can easily stand on their own which actually brings me to my next point.
7. Free Yourself from Always Needing to Have the Last Word
As I've gotten away from controlling relatives (check out "Why You Should Be Unapologetic About Setting Boundaries With Toxic Family Members"), it's amazing how less controlling I've become (check out "You Just Might Be A Control Freak (In Recovery)"). Hmph. Funny how when folks are trying to run your life, you find yourself trying to do the same thing to others…as a form of gaining back some sort of control (chile). As I've freed myself from this pattern, something I've needed to have less and less of is the last word.
People who are consumed with needing to have the final say on something are typically battling with some form of needing to control something or someone, whether they realize it or not. These days, I'm more concerned about being impactful with what I say; if that's the case, who cares if I said the "final" thing or not? Same point applies to you on social media. A profound word says so much more than needing to get the last one.
If you totally get this and you still have a weakness in this area, remember what I said about the mute feature? Exactly.
8. Remember, You Don’t Know Those People (at Least Most of Them)
The older (and hopefully wiser) that I become, the more I'm like, "These folks really think we're still in high school" — in life, in general, and definitely when it comes to social media. When it comes to caring what people think, those in my life who really know me (check out "5 Signs You Really Know A Person") know that the people's opinions I care about, I truly do; oh, but that list is quite far and few between. And when I was on social media? I don't know 80 percent of those folks while 10 percent more are pretty transient in my world. They don't shift my life dynamic on any real or lasting level, one way or another, so honestly, after about a five-minute exchange, who cares what they think?
We see a lot of celebrities who totally lose their minds due to what happens on social media. And while I get that social pressure is indeed a thing — again, like peer pressure was in high school…see my point? — when you really stop and ponder the fact that your tribe isn't all of your online friends and followers, it helps to put things into a healthier perspective. When you hop online and really think, "I don't know these people like that", it gets harder and harder for them to trigger you because…why do they matter enough to get to you in that kind of headspace? This brings me to my next point.
9. Accept Trolls for What/Who They Are
Bots. People with 10 followers. Folks with wack ass bios. Individuals who have avatars instead of pictures. People who have something ridiculous to say every time you say something. In short, trolls. They're basically folks who live to be controversial because they want to get up underneath your skin. What they say doesn't have to be right or even make a lot of sense; if they know it will get to you, they will say it.
You know what this means, right? You cannot give a troll the satisfaction of figuring out how to press your buttons. He or she isn't a significant part of your life, so why give their simple selves the satisfaction? Bottom line, if a troll truly gets to you, do some soul-searching into why. They're not worth it so why is it…worth it?
10. Have “Off” Days
Wanna know a sign that you've got a low-key social media addiction? One is if it's the first and last thing that you do on a daily basis (you wake up and get on it, you go to bed with your phone in your hand). Another indication is you can't imagine going even two days without checking your social media accounts. And here's the thing about both of these points — there is scientific evidence to support that taking social media fasts can decrease anxiety, increase positivity, boost your self-esteem, lower your stress levels and even help you to sleep better at night.
A couple of years ago, another writer penned, "What I Learned From My Two-Month Social Media Fast" for our site. Between it and other articles I've read on the topic, I haven't seen anyone say that they regretted taking time off of social media, a few times a year. It's definitely something to consider; especially if you find yourself getting triggered a lot later. Take some moments to woosah and gain your bearings. Because again, social media can be cool yet it's not worth having a heartache over — all because you've allowed too many randoms…to trigger you.
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