How to stop social media and the news draining your life’s energy

Energy is our life force.

We expend energy all day both consciously and unconsciously. 

But it’s not infinite. We are not robots. No matter how much our culture promotes consuming content and being busy all the time, there is only a certain amount we can do before we hit the wall.

Every minute we are either draining our life force energy or replenishing it.

How are you spending your energy?

I often find myself asking the same question either in my mind or when journalling – how am I spending my energy? 

I have sat still with this question and tried to become aware of the people and things that distract me and drain my energy. Because I know I am very curious and conscientious, I know I can easily get distracted by something or spend way too long trying to get something perfect. 

For example, I spend a bit of time researching an article before writing it. Often before I know it I’ve spent 5 hours going down a rabbit hole of researching and consuming content without actually writing anything! 

Trying to plug these energy drains takes some practice and willingness to reflect and become more self aware.  Once we become aware, then we need the self discipline to focus on the one thing we want to do.

We all need energy to thrive and stay healthy. When we endlessly expend energy without checking in with ourselves, we are compromising our ability to thrive and stay healthy.

How social media and the news drain your energy

I can list many ways that we all drain our energy, but one of the most prevalent ways is consuming content on social and mainstream media.

Some of it is good for us to see what’s going on in the world and to connect with others, albeit through a screen.

However, avoiding watching the news and distancing myself from social media has reinforced my conscious realisation that our attention is constantly being vied for and ultimately sold on these platforms.

In a capitalist society the creators of most mainstream content we consume only care about controlling our attention. Our attention is the most valuable asset any organisation can get.

We have got a situation in which thousands of engineers are working behind the scenes at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, etc., constantly trying to find ways to make these sites more addictive and control our attention. This is because in order to be profitable, they require loads of people to look at advertisements on their websites.

The ironic result is that these “social” networks have pushed us into isolation and rising loneliness. The social norm is to write to each other on screens rather than speak face to face. Connecting on social media is not real human connection. And as human beings, we need real human connection. But social media doesn’t care about real human connection because it’s not a good strategy for making money. 

They have us so addicted to their platforms that we look at them when we are walking down the street, rather than say look at where we are going (or ya know, actually acknowledge a fellow human being!).

News companies have learned that it’s best to be polarizing and sensational to keep us emotionally hooked and consume their content. It’s mostly political and economic trivia.

Again ironically, we are also rarely told the truth about the real news on important things that actually matter; global extreme poverty, global health and loneliness epidemic, biodiversity loss, ecological destruction, mass-scale animal cruelty, artificial intelligence and runaway climate change.

These are not trivial issues like which politician said or did this. These are the real, complex issues of our modern time that humanity needs to focus on if we want to survive and thrive. 

I realise this seems like a negative rant, but I think I’m really just being realistic and telling it how it is. 

Social media is often not a social community. 

The news is often not really the real news.

I’m not saying never watch the news or consume social media. I use it but there’s a difference between mindlessly consuming information and consciously deciding to consume information for a purpose. 

Strategies for finding balance and replenishing your energy 

In Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl’s inspirational book ‘Man’s search for Meaning’, one of his most poignant realisations was that we always have the power to choose one’s attitude to circumstances and to choose one’s own way.

We all want to attain goals, to improve our lives in some way, whether it be physically, mentally or spiritually. That’s why I love the phrase focus on what you can control.  

Your energy is a precious commodity. Some strategies for finding balance with social and mainstream media so that you can replenish your life energy rather than drain it;

  • Become aware of the toxic power and motivations of today’s social and mainstream media outlets 
  • Become more deliberate in your use of social and mainstream media content
  • Cultivate self-discipline through quiet time, meditation or journalling
  • Adopt the attitude of if it’s sufficiently important, I will hear about it (and in a super interconnected world, you will)
  • Set boundaries with yourself – you could try digital fasting
  • Focus on a personal project you can control – movement practice, cooking healthy meals, reading, starting your own business, creating content of value etc

Energy is our life force. Ultimately, you always have a choice what you spend your life force on. Will it be consuming content that you can’t control on social media and the news? Or will it be on creating a life that you desire by focusing on the things you can control?

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