Mental health is important and we often do things out of habit which cause us harm that we don’t notice until it is too late. Social media is designed to be addictive and news apps mirror this along with headlines written for maximum impact, often with little regard to the context or facts of the story.

I realised I had a problem thanks to Apple’s screen time feature which informed me that I was spending a lot of time on my phone looking at social media and news. I was stunned by how often I just pick up my phone to check Facebook, or read tweets and browse Instagram.

My screentime from today (sorry, not got a before picture!) Social Networking: iMessages and Whatsapp! Other: websites I visit and read, should really be ‘Reading’…

To quench my thirst for keeping up with things in the world, I spent even more time checking Apple’s News app or Feedly or Flipbook. At least two of these apps are bad for you by design!

What they do is draw you in, scroll scroll scroll, just skimming headlines and eliciting an emotion.

I shared stuff from those algorithmically curated news sources to my social media and claimed the moral high-ground by showing how upset I was about this story about climate change or that about abused autistic teen.

What does it do? To what end is this helpful?

None it turns out. In fact, cutting out news and social media from my life makes me happier, more relaxed and in control. It stops me worrying and gives me time to process information more and arrive at better decisions that can have more meaningful impact.

Originate – don’t imitate.

I spend more time focussed on using my phone productively or have conversations with friends. Instead of worrying about likes or hearts, I enjoy talking, reading or writing.

Will this help fight climate change or make people use less plastics?

Probably not but getting mad through computer algorithms feeding my anxiety does not fix it either. At least now I feel more in control of what news I consume and select the sources carefully and with more awareness.

I skim less and read more. I then process those thoughts and can take a more useful action than hitting ‘share post / queue outrage’.

Don’t be a follower – be a leader on topics that you care about and focus on what makes you happy.

Like your friends or family.

Share mindfully (mindfulness media consumption?) and engage with people more organically.

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