Photo by Matt Seymour on Unsplash
How much of what we read, hear, and watch is real versus fake? We are bombarded with information and data, some of which is real, some fake, and some a little of both, and we are left to discern the truth. Whether we tend to be more skeptical or more gullible, this task is not any easy one. In addition to news and media coverage, people post their own information through various social media sites that may contain fictional or skewed content. Our world is filled with overwhelming information that can create confusion, anger, and fear depending upon how we interpret the data. How are our lives impacted by this overabundance of information, much of which is based on the opinions of so-called experts? Many of us rely and even make life decisions based on this data. More importantly, the emotional toll of wading through all this data is alarming.
Another consequence of relying on the internet not just for answers, but for connection, escape or fantasy is it encourages us to create a second and secretive life. Some get so caught up in their digital addiction that they create a life that can lead to self-destructive behaviors and choices. For example, viewing internet pornography or participating in inappropriate chat rooms promotes unhealthy connections for those in committed relationships. These experiences can cause a person to become desensitized to healthy and emotionally intimate connections and also create unrealistic expectations and behaviors with their current partner. In some cases this behavior progresses to infidelity, perpetual lying, and destructive choices. The life that they've created is not reality-based and does not provide long-lasting fulfillment and connection. In other cases, people use social media to project an image of their lives that is mostly inaccurate and often embellished. We want to be someone we're not and fabricate our story to impress others. Sometimes people use the internet for political rants, expressions of hate, or to push others towards a cause that they believe in. Of course not everything on the internet is bad and people can and do make poor choices even without its influence. The internet just provides an easy, anonymous way to ingest or disseminate false information.
So how do we use the internet and social media wisely? For starters, we can limit the amount of time we spend on the internet and view the content with a skeptical eye. In conjunction with this, we can spend more time interacting with live people and not in front of a screen. Another strategy would be to block negative and destructive people or sites that only create negative emotions and add to our stress level. Like any addiction or bad habit, we need to acknowledge our issues to others who can support and encourage us while holding us accountable. We need to face the struggles of real life, deal with conflicts, and work through negative emotions. Finding healthy activities that provide a sense of fulfillment and security can also be beneficial. Spend time in nature, appreciate the beauty of our environment, and be grateful for what we have in our lives. Lastly, decide to be vulnerable with others and honest with yourself and others; trust me, it will give you peace.