Last night I took part in the #MHnursechat discussion “Does Twitter do your head in?” and it was one of those discussions that really got my brain ticking over. (You can read the full discussion here) I am sure that you are all aware by now that I am a huge advocate for Social Media and its ability to connect across geographical and hierarchical boundaries in nursing and support nurses to exchange ideas, expertise and experiences … but we shouldn’t see social media through rose tinted spectacles, we should continue to advocate the good but equally we should also warn and prepare for the not so good.
I have heard a lot lately about Digital Professionalism and how we should behave in a digital space and whilst this concept is every important for us to grasp it really doesn’t cover how we look after ourselves in this space. Our digital mental health and our digital resilience also needs some thought. What do we do to protect ourselves from the constant stream of information and the perceived need to read it all? How do we protect our mental well-being when putting our ideas and thoughts “out there”? How do we deal with criticism or disagreements in 140 char? How do we cope with trolls? What do we do when switching off becomes a problem? If you are in social media long enough the chances are that you will find your blood pressure rising over one of these things … so what do we do to protect our mental wellbeing in a digital space?
Recently I have come across a few incidents on a personal and a professional level that have made me stop and think. One was an issue with a close family member being unable to switch off from negative comments being made via Facebook and another incident was with someone behaving in a troll like way on Twitter. Both incidents had a common thread – they both affected mental wellbeing and had the potential to escalate beyond control. Which leaves me thinking … how do we deal with this? Often more digital contact can raise the blood pressure even more .. but how do we stop ourselves? Should it be more about building resilience and a “thick skin” to such events? Or should we learn to walk away and switch off? My guess is that it’s a personal thing – just as professional resilience and looking after our well-being in the real world is individual to each of us. We need to each find our own way and find what works best for us.
There have been some well publicised cases of people dealing with social media stress and this is explained well in The Not So Big Society’s blog post “In Praise of Flouncing” which outlines a way of coping with social media stress by pushing the off switch (thanks to @thus_spake_z for sharing this during the #MHnursechat discussion) I should imagine that there are many ways of ensuring that your digital well-being remains positive and healthy but here are a few of mine, please feel free to share your own too:
- Be polite and kind and role model how you want to be treated
- Only read as far back as one page of tweets / posts
- Learn to filter, you don’t have to click on every link shared
- Talk to people offline and share online stresses
- Ignore, unfriend, block and delete trolls and troll like behaviour
- Remember the majority of Social Media interactions are positive experiences
- And most importantly …. there is an off switch !