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Avoiding the Comment Section
One of my favorite things to do during my lunch break is reading the comment sections on Facebook. These dramatic exchanges rival a soap opera! I find it amazing that even the most seemingly benign posts can lead to hostile discourse in the comments. For example, I belong to a Facebook group that focuses on a specific type of home décor (maximalism… I love it!). Group members often post pictures of their maximalist home designs – neon pink bathrooms, ornate mirrors, garish wallpaper – that kind of thing. One would think there wouldn’t be much drama past the occasional “not my style” kind of comment. Well, one would be wrong! Sometimes the group admins even have to turn off the comment section.
I fully admit, I get a dramatic thrill from reading the heated back and forth between two strangers. But if I’m totally honest with myself, it puts me in a bad mood! It makes me sad for those involved in the argument and it makes me mad at myself because I think of all the other things I could have accomplished instead. I mean, I often complain about not having time to read a book. With the number of comments I’ve read on social media over the last few years, I could have read about 10 novels!
When I started looking into this pastime of mine, I found that I’m not alone. As it turns out, a lot of people are drawn to reading negative comment sections, and it’s hurting our mental health. People have reported many adverse effects from all this negativity including depression, increased anxiety, and shortened attention spans. (Hi. I’m one of those people!)
The good news is we can reverse these effects! Obviously, one way would be to put our phones down. Instead of scrolling through Facebook posts to find heated debates at night when I’m trying to relax, I’ll do a puzzle, work on a craft project, or watch an episode of a show. If I were a different person, I could fold some clothes or organize a closet. (If that’s something that relaxes you, go for it!)
What about during my lunch break? It’s not like I can just start crafting as I eat my sandwich! No, I’m still going to allow myself to zone-out on my phone during that time. But you’ll find me on Pinterest instead of the negative comment sections of other social media platforms. I’ll be looking up “maximalist design ideas” for my dining room without having to read through any cynical comments.
To read more about the mental health effects of reading negative comments, check out this article.
Molly Woodman, Outreach Coordinator for The Kim Foundation