Two weeks ago I removed facebook from my phone. I was finding myself staring at posts, unable to grasp the hate being spewed. I was feeling overwhelmed, yet at the same time STUCK to reading what people felt they should say to each other.
You don't think like me, you are wrong, you don't matter, we can't have opposing opinions, thoughts or feelings.
As the election date drew closer, I saw posts from the man who is supposed to be our leader calling on fellow Canadians to hate each other, to ignore the facts, and to just trust what he was saying. They called for a divided country, and social media perpetuated the divide and hate.
After 18 months of fear, stress, mental exhaustion, physical exhaustion, pain, loss and suffering most of us are not in a good place. Many are not able to see past our own pain, many are not able to see any light at the end of the long dark tunnels they found themselves walking. I know I have found myself wishing people would just see it my way, from my perspective, see MY POINT! I would find myself reading others posts and comments, then spending hours wasting my time searching the internet and researching to see if what they are saying was true. I would feel like I had to rebuttal, share stats, and pubMed research to "help people see" what I was talking about.
I lost a lot of hours and energy doing this. The only thing I came to realize for sure, was that you can LITERALLY find ANYTHING to PROVE ANYTHING. There are science based articles to prove literally WHATEVER you want to prove! You can find stats on official government websites to show WHATEVER you want to show. There are LITERALLY peer reviewed medical studies to AGREE WITH whatever side you want to AGREE WITH. Don't believe me, open DUCKDUCKGO (it is an uncensored search engine) and try for yourself.
There is a name for this, it's called Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon (a.k.a. the Recency Bias or Frequency Illusion). The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, otherwise known as the frequency illusion or recency bias, is a situation where something you recently learned about suddenly seems to appear everywhere. There are two reasons for this phenomenon -- first, selective attention, which means your brain is subconsciously seeking out more information on the subject. Second, confirmation bias, which means every time you see something related to the subject, your brain tells you that it's proof the subject is true.
It's like this; You go to the car dealership and look at the cars, trying to decide on a new and exciting vehicle. You see this AWESOME yellow car at the back of the lot, and think "I have NEVER seen such an awesome car in all my life, I MUST have it." So, you buy it and drive it off the lot. On your way home all of a sudden you see this SAME car all over town. What the HECK?? You had NEVER seen this car before in your life! Or had you? In fact, you had seen this car before many times, your brain just didn't see any need to seek out information on it, so you never made note of it. We are wired to need proof. Now I am not a neuroscientist or anything, but I have been reading up on this a lot lately as I find it really fascinating. I can see this at work all over social media right now, and I feel it's a HUGE part of the divide we are seeing.
One example of how this phenomenon works was discussed in an podcast I listened too. The podcaster stated that if two people with opposing views read the SAME news piece, BOTH had the ability to search out statements that supported their own personal narrative. Each person's brain is wired to pull from these writings information that proves to them the proof they need to tell their own personal brain the way they think is TRUE.
Don't believe me? Try it! Go to social media, pull up a post that is controversial. DON'T COMMENT! Just read the posts under it. Look at how people posting are able to pull from the original post a narrative that supports how THEY personally feel, or something that is true to them. Ever person commenting has done this, it's how we are wired, we can't help it. It's fascinating really, we are wired to find information that supports US and how we view the world. We can never truly have an UNBIASED opinion on anything, we are always looking at EVERYTHING through the glasses that have been tinted by our personal life experiences.
Why was this so important for me to learn, and why I am I feeling called to share this information with you? Well, here's what I think was the point to all this. If you are in a bad place, if you are mentally exhausted, battling depression and anxiety, feeling already extremely overwhelmed (like I have found myself a lot these last 18 months), those are the glasses you are going to see the world through. You may read something and take it completely out of context because your brain's bias is looking to find proof that how you are currently seeing the world is TRUE. You are searching for confirmation that what you are feeling (depression, anxiety, exhaustion) is justified and that your life experiences haven't been "in vain" as they say. You are looking for the proof that the subject is true. Kind of mind blowing, isn't it?
Although I highly recommended a HUGE break from social media, if for whatever reason you are not able to do so at this time, try this. Before you comment, before you assume you know what it is the other person is saying, take a deep breath. Ask yourself, is this TRUE, or TRUE to me? Simple as that! Ok, it's not really "simple as that", and may take practice to see the difference. I know I am working really hard on it. I have failed a couple times, ok, a lot of times..... But I am trying.
Social media is a horrible place right now, especially for those of us who aren't doing the greatest. So my advice to you, stay away from it. Take the time you would have spent there and do something good for you. Take a HIKE, cuddle on the couch with your fur baby, grab a coffee with a friend and have a real conversation. Do things that you need to do to get back to a better place. Become self centered, for real. Center yourself, cry out the emotions, scream at the universe, journal all the feelings out. Write out all the things that you are feeling, let the pen flow, then burn the paper, release it. Get back to YOU, your center, what you need. Stop the external battles, they only serve as a distraction so you don't have to deal with your own emotions and what you are going through.
When we heal ourselves, we are able to shift our brains bias. We stop looking for validation for our hurt and pain. It can be a beautiful shift, and I for one am really working on allowing this shift to happen in my own life.
Now go do something Self Centered and get Centered in yourself!