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Why you should cut back on social media and how to do it
Social media seems to stress some people out. Maybe its time for a break?
- Social media can make people anxious, depressed, lonely, and stressed out.
- There are several ways to cut back your use of it.
- Even using it slightly less has been shown to reduce depressive symptoms.
Between the stakes, the uncertainty, and the increased polarization of our discourse, it is little wonder that 68 percent of Americans reported that the election was causing them a considerable amount of stress. Not helping matters is how much time people spent last week doom-scrolling their social media feeds, checking every few minutes for news that either doesn't arrive or merely stresses them out further.
Perhaps now is an excellent time to review how many studies show that too much social media can stress you out and consider simple ways to cut back.
We used to smoke during five-minute breaks at work; now, we check the feeds.
A variety of studies show that too much time spent on social media can stress us out, leave us anxious and depressed, and ironically increase feelings of loneliness. These findings have been confirmed for both adults and children.
These effects are caused by several factors. The curated images of other people's lives we see on the screen can leave us feeling like we're comparatively inadequate. The often spoken of "fear-of-missing-out" is a real thing. When you have dozens of people doing something once, with continual updating it can appear like everybody is doing something all the time. The political aspects of social media can make things worse. Even when people agree with you, the slew of information can be too much, says Dr. Erin Elfant, a clinical psychologist working out of California.
She goes on to mention that social media provides a perverse incentive for being stressed:
"When we tend to say something that is a strongly worded opinion, we tend to get more response for that which also means that it positively reinforces us getting really stressed."
It seems like a vicious cycle. Posting things that make people react is the point, even if that reaction is to make them stressed. Whatever works at getting a reaction will be posted again.
How to spend less time on social media
There are a variety of ways to make avoiding checking your feeds every six seconds a little easier.
Delete your apps
Making it a little harder to get to social media can help you use it less. Beyond making a kind of initiative sense, this method is supported by empirical evidence. Nudge Theory in behavioral economics is based around this. People often do what's easiest, and that can be manipulated for good. Having to spend that much more effort getting to your social media page might be the thing that keeps you off it.
Set time limits on your usage.
If you don't want to delete the apps outright, that's fine; there are other options. Most smartphones can show you a breakdown of how much time you're spending on an app, either through included features or through third-party apps that are readily available. You can easily track your screen time and change your behavior accordingly.
If you use a web browser to access these sites, you can use a variety of extensions to control how long you're allowed to browse before blocks kick in. Others allow you to set times when you can't access the sites, like working hours, or to set other conditions.
Consider what you're following
If you're like me, you've been invited to endless pages by other people, which you accepted to be polite. After a few years, you start to wonder why you still get updates from these random pages that mean nothing to you. If you aren't going to cut back, you can reduce your stress and your feed's clutter with a review of what pages you're following. Is there a page (or person) whose posts only make you mad? You should consider not following them anymore.
Plus, if there is less to look at, you may find yourself spending less time on social media as a result. A feed with only 1 pages will have fewer updates to review than one with 20.
Set a day of rest
There's a reason most cultures had a designated day of rest; we need it.
The idea of a digital detox is increasingly popular, and an offshoot of that is setting a "digital sabbath." Much like the religious one, the idea here is that you take a set amount of time (either the weekend or a part of it) as a day of rest during which you cannot use or check social media.
This solution has the added benefits that you're not giving up on social media, just limiting your use to specific days, and that you can make the rules for it as strict or lax as you require. You could ban all internet use outside of email on the sabbath, or you could just keep yourself from looking at Twitter.
Turn off notifications
If all else seems like too much, try just turning off your notifications. You should be deciding when you want to look at social media, not the social media pages. Who knows, if you aren't told every time your aunt posts a new image of her cat, you might not find the need to look at each one of the pictures.
Social media has an extremely mixed track record of doing what it was supposed to do in terms of bringing people together in a new and fun way. Given how much stress it's caused us lately, maybe cutting back can do us all some good.
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What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
Scientists find that bursts of gamma rays may exceed the speed of light and cause time-reversibility.
- Astrophysicists propose that gamma-ray bursts may exceed the speed of light.
- The superluminal jets may also be responsible for time-reversibility.
- The finding doesn't go against Einstein's theory because this effect happens in the jet medium not a vacuum.
Jet bursting out of a blazar. Black-hole-powered galaxies called blazars are the most common sources detected by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.
Cosmic death beams: Understanding gamma ray bursts<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="cu2knVEk" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="c6cfd20fdf31c82cb206ade8ce21ba3f"> <div id="botr_cu2knVEk_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/cu2knVEk-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Researchers dramatically improve the accuracy of a number that connects fundamental forces.
- A team of physicists carried out experiments to determine the precise value of the fine-structure constant.
- This pure number describes the strength of the electromagnetic forces between elementary particles.
- The scientists improved the accuracy of this measurement by 2.5 times.
The process for measuring the fine-structure constant involved a beam of light from a laser that caused an atom to recoil. The red and blue colors indicate the light wave's peaks and troughs, respectively.
Scientists at Washington University are patenting a new electrolyzer designed for frigid Martian water.
- Mars explorers will need more oxygen and hydrogen than they can carry to the Red Planet.
- Martian water may be able to provide these elements, but it is extremely salty water.
- The new method can pull oxygen and hydrogen for breathing and fuel from Martian brine.