Have you ever paused in the middle of a bad day and realized that you can’t quite figure out how your emotional outlook took that wrong turn down Shitty Lane? Nothing terrible happened at home. Work is great and the boss is happy. Despite a quick pulse check on all the major life happenings, you can’t put your finger on why it seems like you’re stuck in the swamp of despair.
And then it hits you. You lost your faith in humanity after seeing a once-beloved friend post some alt-right-ish content to her timeline. After questioning her morality, and wondering what happened to her critical thinking skills, you silently mourn for the friend you knew—and then it all snowballs from there. There’s a cloud over your day, and you just can’t shake it.
Congratulations, you let the vampire in.
According to certain types of vampire tales, a bloodsucker cannot enter a human’s home without an invitation. In order to become prey, a welcoming host acts as an unwitting participant in their own demise. You let your guard down, and all of a sudden, some creature is drinking your life force like a milkshake. In other words, you played yourself.
Vampires that feed on our emotions and energy are all around us, and social media provides a 24/7 casino-style bloodbank buffet for their suckage. Here’s a quick list of some of the most common types:
- The News of the Day: Every damn day there’s some new scandal, investigation, royal announcement, or tragedy to pull you in like in like a tractor beam.
- Violence and Destruction: Hurricanes, political assassinations, terrorist attacks, and other things that demand custom lead-in graphics on CNN.
- Exes: Whether we’re talking lovers, friends, or the ex-lovers of friends, getting involved in the online drama they create can complicate things for your current relationships. Especially for you creepers in the house.
- Bosses: Being online buds with your boss can be awesome. But is it healthy for your relationship? Does it allow you to leave work at work?
- The Perfect™: Those individuals we follow because we want to be them. Everything they post is perfect. Curated. Manicured. Pasteurized. Packaged just right to make you jealous. This can be just as much a case of professional jealousy of the person in the corner office as it could be your favorite Kardashian.
- The Perpetually Problematic: We all have those friends in our feed that are always falling victim to some low-level maniacal scheme on the part of the universe. Lost keys. Late Lyfts. Bad haircuts. Missing library books. Small stuff that whips up big drama and attention from fellow followers. Everything with this person has the potential to become A THING.
- The Ignorant Partisan: Right or left, they all love the Russian clickbait and they’re happy to share it with their comrades.
- The Spoilers: I’m looking at you, The Walking Dead on Instagram. I paused the show right as Maggie and Gregory were fighting. I checked my feed and, well, you ruined it for me (spoiler alert).
- FOMO: Your hometown friends at happy hour. Your friends at the Super Bowl. Your sister at the Lady Gaga house concert she was lucky enough to be invited to as she was walking by. Your friends everywhere you want to be but you can’t because of some lame obligation holding you back.
- Twitter: Some of the network’s power-users can be a bit much. But it’s hard to turn away from their daily dumpster fires.
Since the 2016 election, I’ve been trying to be mindful of how my emotions are affected by what I consume from my timeline. When I realize something’s bringing me down, I make notes of those feelings and try not to inflict more harm through repeated exposure. If you’ve noticed yourself falling prey to the timeline vampires, here are some things you can do to keep from becoming one of the undead.
- Know your triggers: What kind of subject matter chips away at your ability to focus, leads to anxiety, or causes you to relive trauma? When something triggering is in the news, it affects survivors in real ways. Knowing what you can handle and limiting your intake is one of the best ways to protect yourself from being re-traumatized.
- DO NOT ENGAGE: You know you’re right, and you can rest in that. Everyone in the thread can make it just fine without your comments. Don’t let some troll draw you out and steal your time.
- Use the snooze/mute function: Tired of seeing someone’s perfect life that consumes you with jealousy? Snooze them for 30 days or until they get zits. Overwhelmed by political bomb-throwers on Twitter? Mute the suckers until after the election cycle. If their content is usually beneficial to your life but they are currently intolerable, taking a breather is the right call. But if they are absolutely insufferable…
- Unfriending/unfollowing (the nuclear option): It’s hard to know when to deploy this tactic for online self-preservation. A decision like this is not to be taken lightly, and you should always weigh the pros and the cons before kicking a friend or family member from your feed.
I hope you found these tips helpful. If you have some other vampire types or tips to share, please drop a comment—I’d love to hear how you preserve your emotional integrity without swearing off social media entirely.
OK, signing off for a bit, gotta go check the latest POTUS tweet…