Why I Removed All News From My Social Media Feeds

I was a late adopter to the whole Twitter phenomenon. I jumped on the Facebook train as early as I was able, and joined in with Instagram as soon as I got a smart phone. But it took me quite a long time to join in on the conversations happening over only 140 characters.

Shortly after joining Twitter, it became an invaluable to me as a resource for all things related to the news. I worked in an office where I couldn't have my phone with me, so I would keep Twitter open on my second screen to keep a pulse on what was happening. It was the primary way I kept up with the news and therefore what was happening in the world. But last month, that all changed.

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If you've read anything on the news this year, you know that there's been a lot going on. Without getting political, in the months following the election, it sometimes feels like America is literally falling apart at the seams.

Even before 2017 began, I was already looking for ways to reduce my social media consumption and the anxiety and stress they caused me.

You see, not only am I a Highly Sensitive Person, I also have two different diagnosed anxiety disorders. I noticed that every time I got on Twitter or Facebook and saw the stream of posts about everything that was going on in the country and the world, my anxiety levels would rise.

It had been on my list to do a deep dive digital declutter for quite a while, and I'd already gone through and purged all of my social media feeds at one time or another. But even with that purging, social media had become a place of stress more than it was a place where I could see how my friends and family were doing.

A couple of months ago, I'd seen a photographer I follow tweet about how he'd removed all news sources from his social media feeds. Rather than watching 140-character updates scroll through at lightning speed, he intentionally consumed his news from specific sources when he chose to engage. That was it.

About a month ago, I did the same thing and it was one of the best social media related decisions I've ever made.

It's no news to any of us that this world is filled with a lot of noise. Thanks to the internet, we know far more about what's going on around the world than what's going on with our neighbors down the street. We can read article after article after article about the latest conflict overseas, political issue, or tragedies taking place in our own cities.

Even if you originally liked the Facebook page or followed the account on Twitter, following news outlets on social media ultimately takes away your ability to choose what you consume, when you consume, and how you consume it. You're bombarded by some things that are important, but often far more often by things that don't matter that much in the long run.

I've always tried to be intentional about the content I consume, because otherwise I get overwhelmed. While I'd taken that intentional approach to brands and blogs I follow, I hadn't taken the same approach to the news. I assumed that if I wasn't following news outlets on Facebook or Twitter, I would be missing out. I wouldn't be in the know. I would miss some major world event and be completely in the dark. And of course, all of that was worth the extra stress and anxiety those news outlets caused me on a daily basis... right? Wrong.

One night, I sat down and did a total purge of my all my social media accounts. I unfollowed and unliked any page or account that was directly or indirectly tied to a news source. I then subscribed to a daily news briefing, in addition to the one I've already read for the last couple of years.

This meant that, once a day, news would show up in my inbox and I could intentionally choose to read it as I was able. I was no longer bombarded by news stories every three minutes and when my social media feeds were filled instead with updates from family and friends, my stress and anxiety levels decreased dramatically.

The truth is, you're not going to miss out by not following everyone on social media. You can still keep up with the news by doing what people did for years before Twitter and Facebook showed up on the scene — reading the actual news. And if something really important happens, someone will tell you sooner or later.

So why not give it a try? Unfollow, unlike, unsubscribe. Choose one or two media outlets you trust and go directly to the source for your news. Intentionally choose what you consume and when you consume it. You won't miss much, I promise.

Sarah Anne Hayes