In recent years there has been an immense division in American society. Whether it be regarding the pandemic, sudden tragedies, or civil rights issues, there seems to always be controversy.
Many people, such as those with an online platform and others with only a small following, feel compelled to share their opinion on social media when issues are brought to light. If they do not say anything, some people automatically assume that they do not care about the issue, are not staying informed about current events, or are siding a certain way.
Feeling the pressure of not only having to comment on an issue that could be considered controversial but trying to say the right thing can be very stressful and anxiety-inducing. That is why it is important to know that it is not your job to be a crisis commentator.
Staying informed is important, especially on events in the world that affect you personally. It is challenging, if not impossible, to be constantly informed all the time. Whatever crisis is going on now in the world will certainly not be the last.
Once you use social media to comment on a particular crisis, you may feel compelled to speak out every time a crisis happens. Before long, you may find that you are using social media less for your own enjoyment and more for speaking out about public or political issues.
Despite what others may try to tell you, you are not required to speak out about every crisis going on in the world, and staying silent does not mean that you are siding one way or the other. In reality, social media is intended for you to use as you please, whether that be connecting with loved ones, sharing photos with friends, or connecting with new people. Just because you have social media does not mean you are required to speak about public issues.
There are many reasons not to comment on controversial issues if you do not feel strongly compelled to do so. When controversial issues are discussed over the internet, people often say things they would be too afraid to communicate in real life. Online fights can quickly break out and spin out of control. This can lead to broken friendships and take a significant toll on your mental health.
If you are considering posting something online, do not do so rashly. Think carefully and read it over several times before you post. Never post something on social media when you are angry or highly emotional, as you may say something you do not mean. It can be helpful to follow these tips when deciding whether or not to share something online:
#1. Is this something you are truly passionate about? Consider your motivation behind posting something. Is this related to a cause that you are knowledgeable and care about, or are you only posting about it because you feel you have to and will face judgment if you do not?
#2. Is this truly how you feel about the topic? Consider if your post truly aligns with your morals and belief system or if you are simply posting to be accepted by others. Remember to be just as authentic to your online presence as in real life.
#3. Is your post helpful? When it comes to posting about controversial issues, considering if a post is helpful can be important regarding whether it needs to be shared online. Is it meant to educate others and help someone, or is it meant to judge, make fun of, or ridicule others?
#4. Are you truly in a position to speak about this topic online? Many people are quick to repost articles or comment on them after only reading the headline and not the entire article. If you are going to share something online, make sure that you have adequately informed yourself about it first. This can help prevent the spread of misinformation and unnecessary controversy.
#5. Is this a conversation that needs to take place online? Many people use social media as a way of responding to another person’s post indirectly. If someone you know posts something on social media that you disagree with or find insulting, it is much better to discuss it in person as opposed to on social media.
An in-person, face-to-face conversation is typically more effective in resolving disputes than going to war online where others can speculate and chime in on the argument. Additionally, the individual might not understand the post was directed at them if not posted in a timely fashion. They may also never see it, making your post ineffective.
Many people falsely believe that if they have a following on their social media platform, they are inclined to use it to speak up and share their opinion about controversial issues going on in the world. Feeling the need to comment on these issues and appease everyone with your response can lead to stress and mental health concerns. It is important to recognize that you’re not required to speak out about issues unless you want to and feel passionate about a certain topic. Before you post, always make sure to think carefully about what you want to say, what your motivation is behind sharing it, and whether or not it is helpful or beneficial. If social media is causing you anxiety, it may be time for a change. At The Kimberly Center, we want you to achieve the best mental health possible. Call (855) 452-3683 to learn more.