The other day I opened up Facebook and all I saw were political diatribes. People were posting and commenting back and forth. The name calling and personal attacks were vicious. As I scrolled further down my newsfeed, it didn’t get better.
At lunch with a friend, we got stuck in an endless loop of general complaints, gossip and finger-pointing. When I left, I felt more dejected and upset than when I arrived.
Generally, the last year or so have seemed like a never-ending cycle of bad news, nasty attitudes and general terribleness. It’s been a lot and it’s been depressing. I seriously cannot take any more of the negativity.
It was time for a radical change.
How I Designed My Positive Social Network
All of the nasty posts and negative conversations started to take a toll on me mentally and emotionally. I decided I really needed a change. So I chose to overhaul all my social connections.
Permission To Be Positive
Start with yourself. After all, the best changes start at home! Try keeping a journal or alerting yourself when you start to complain. I really like some of the methods I found at The Orange Rhino. Their challenge is all about stopping parents from yelling at their children. But the same principles can be applied to anything.
Put money into a complaints jar, like a swear jar, whenever you find yourself stuck in a cycle of grousing about life. Keep track of your positive comments and try to meet a daily minimum. Give yourself daily prompts, like The Love Dare, to complete. Your prompts could be specific (say something nice about deployment or 24-hour duty) or more general (compliment someone today). Another idea is to journal about what makes you happy.
When you feel happy, you’re more likely to radiate that to others!
End Negative Talks
Whether you are talking to yourself or with a friend, set clear guidelines about positive and negative conversations.
Internally, give yourself permission to be upset about things. It’s normal to be unhappy, sad and angry. These are valid emotions. But you’re only hurting yourself when you start the negative self-talk.
With your friends, stop conversations or redirect them when they turn to the complaint tracks. Pause and say “I hear your concerns and I understand them. How can we fix the situation? Can we talk about that?”
Another option is to say “I know you’re upset about (situation), but I feel like we talk about this all the time and never solve it. I’d love to share one thing that’s good right now.”
Actually, one of my favorite podcasts does this. At the end of every episode, the hosts share one positive thing that happened to them that week. It brings up the tone of the conversation and ends on a high note. (Full disclosure: My Favorite Murder is a true crime podcast, so it’s often a bit of a downer.)
If you find that a friend just can’t bring it back to the lighter side or work toward positive solutions, it might be time to start distancing yourself. I recommend this not to be mean or end a good friendship, but for mental health purposes. It’s hard to be positive if you are in an echo chamber of negativity. Think about that.
Curate Positive On Social Media
Facebook is where I’ve seen a lot of the most divisive and hateful comments lately. People seem to think that being behind a screen gives them permission to be ugly toward others. Words hurt, folks!
I’ve gotten tired of seeing yet another political rant, comment or post in my feeds. I don’t want to unfriend folks right away. After all these are some of my family and friends! But I can’t deal with the negativity overwhelm anymore.
So I did a thing.
Go to Facebook. Look at a post, any post. In the top right corner of each and every post are three little dots. Click there.
A menu of options should appear. It’s magic. Find the second, third and fourth options.
- One should be “Hide Post.” This means you’ll never see that particular post again. You can even hide posts from particular third party pages, like hiding every post your Facebook friends make about Caillou.
- You can also “Snooze” your friend for 30 days. This lets you take a short break from seeing their posts without removing them completely from your feed.
- The next option is to “Unfollow” your friend, which takes all of their posts out of your Facebook newsfeed while still keeping them as a friend.
Next, go through your pages and groups. Next to the “Liked” and “Joined” indicators should be something called “Follow.” Click there. You can decide how and when you see posts from that group or page.
For pages/groups that are mostly positive, you can opt to see them first in your feed. Go ahead and do that.
I personally have Following Atticus set to appear first in my newsfeed. I love to see the adventures of Tom and his furry companions. Who doesn’t love sweet puppy stories first thing?
When I set clear boundaries online and in real life, I’ve found that it’s been way easier to be positive and happy. I don’t have the endless barrage of insults, so I can focus on the good in life.