The shocking results of Tuesday’s very bizarre presidential election have kept most of us in a state of disbelief, anger and uncertainty over the last few days. Since July, we have bared witness to a pretty grueling battle (both online and offline) between two individuals who believed they were the most qualified to hold the highest office in the land.
Needless to say, the battle was fought hard by one very suitable candidate, but won by a very unlikely opponent and now, here we are.
Social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat continue to serve as venting spaces for millions of Americans in response to the world’s current events. Particularly for Black millennials, we are using social media as a tool not only to speak our piece, but to strategically mobilize and creatively organize our thoughts in an effort to tell stories that matter most. As stated so eloquently in the latest Nielsen report, “55% of Black Millennials report spending at least one hour a day on social networking sites, which is 6% higher than all Millennials, while 29% say they spend at least three hours a day, 9% higher than all Millennials.”
In other words, we’re plugged in like never before and have no plans for departure anytime soon.
But even as we begin to emerge from the foggy haze of bewilderment and press cautiously toward our new reality of a Trump presidency, it’s important to remember that actively engaging on social media can take a toll on us mentally, physically and emotionally. While social media posts are merely a reflection of our thoughts in the form of words and images that can help us cope, extended use of technology has the ability (especially for women) to “increase awareness of stressful events.”
Fortunately, there are ways to navigate the Interwebs, all the while keeping your sanity intact. Looking toward the weeks ahead of transition our country will undoubtedly experience, here are three ways to “keep calm and scroll on.”
1. Tell them trolls back, back.
This should come as no surprise, but trolls are gonna troll, y’all. In the last week alone, I’ve had a few trolls who were so nasty, so rude slide into my mentions, and you know what I did? Hit ‘em swiftly with that block button because, they tried it. While I could have clapped back epically and addressed their ignorance, I took a page from First Lady Michelle Obama’s book and went high as they continued to go low. Hear me when I say, trolls do not deserve to get the best of you. Their primary purpose is to spew ridiculous rhetoric in an already roaring sea of noise, so let them flourish.
If you feel the need to respond, make the interaction as short as possible. Kindly acknowledge them, come forth with your receipts and then bring the conversation to a close. Too much back and forth will only allow them to aggravate you even more, and I’m sure like most of us, you want zero problems right now. Remember: you are fully entitled to your opinion that can fit in 140 characters or less, and have the “unfollow” button at your full disposal. The quicker you dismiss the trolls, the quicker you can get back to watching cute #MannequinChallenge videos like this one. You’re welcome.
2. Go where you’re celebrated, not tolerated.
Since joining Twitter almost eight years ago, I’ve learned that it is absolutely crucial to curate my timeline. Simply put, I follow and engage with people and media outlets that I know can provide vital information for my everyday life, a good word of encouragement, or the occasional laugh when I didn’t know I needed it. If the outcome of Tuesday’s election has taught us anything, it is that people are no longer afraid to share their perspectives on the status of our country, even if it comes at the cost of deeply offending others. And while I know you want to advocate for yourself/your culture/your hometown and prove a point, please refrain from looking for trouble on the Internets!
As I mentioned in point number one, the unfollow and unfriend buttons will be your best of friends as we begin to move forward and accept the reality that lies ahead of us. If you want to see some goodness and light on your timeline, follow awesome gals like Alex Elle, Hey Fran Hey and Black Girl In Om. Congregate with fellow movers and shakers in monthly Twitter chats like ones hosted by#blkcreatives, #CreativeSmartGirl and #HerMovement. Or subscribe to some of my favorite newsletters and let that goodness spill over into your inbox.
3. Relax, relate, release.
While I know you want to see if your last witty tweet or cute cat meme got liked or retweeted by the masses, it is actually quite alright to unplug from your phone and go read a book for a while. We have experienced a very, very emotional event in the last three days, and at times like these, it is absolutely necessary to log off and unplug. Your photos, tweets and followers will still be there upon your return.
Personally, I use Saturdays and Sundays as my #selfcare time, which can consist of journaling, reading a book, going for a short run, getting a manicure or watching a few episodes of a new show on Netflix. I put my phone on silent, close all of the open tabs and enjoy quiet time with me, myself and I. Self care looks different for everyone, so it’ll be important to take the time to find what works best for you.
It is so easy for us to get caught up in the standards that others have digitally and inadvertently set for us that sometimes, we forget to do the inner work and take care of home. Loving yourself first and foremost will allow you to give and spread love to others, so make it a number one priority. Pick up that book you’ve been putting off reading all year. Give your friend from college a call, or test out that new recipe you’ve wanted to try. Surrounding yourself with positivity both online and offline is critical, and you shouldn’t feel bad for doing it.
Living in a digital age, we have become tethered to the endless notifications and messages that come from our handheld devices. We depend on social media to provide us with the information we need to keep us informed, but we have to remember that we don’t always need it to live our lives fully and freely. As we prepare for this next chapter in our nation’s history, let us not forget that we’ve seen trying times before and have the full capability to bounce back from them stronger and wiser. The revolution will most certainly be tweeted and Snapchatted, but I’m hopeful we are going to come together and move forward purposefully.
We gon’ be alright.
A digital swaggerist, writer and self-proclaimed Millennial On A Mission living in the Nation’s Capitol, Chasity Cooper works to inspire her generation to find the intersection of their passion and purpose. Follow her on Twitter at @chasityscooper.