Monthly Archives: August 2011

Coping Strategies for Anxious Times

We are now, more than any other time in history, connected.  All the time and everywhere: we are connected to a worldwide network that narrows and expands.  Through our phones, our televisions, our computers… in our cars, in our homes, in the office, in the park, in the restaurant, we have become reachable.  It is now harder than ever before to just ‘disconnect’.

I will not go into the obvious benefits of these connections, but I want to talk about one disadvantage: Anxiety.

Anxiety that comes mainly from too much information about too many details about too many violent events all over the world, and especially this region  which is as the saying goes:  على كف عفريت , loosely translated “in the devil’s palm”.

So the information stream keeps coming and anxiety keeps growing, how to cope? Disconnect?  Easier said than done… I’m not saying that we should become apathetic (may be I am, I’m not sure), but all this bad news can really wear on one’s thinking.  It creates a negative atmosphere where  logic and creativity can’t thrive, and where no real reflection can take place.

I remember a time when the internet was fun,  when TV was entertaining, and when people didn’t freak out if they couldn’t reach you by phone for a few hours…

Here are some coping strategies that have helped me in the past that I thought I’d share:

Get your news only once a day, preferably in the late afternoon and for only half an hour.  Find a place that summarizes stuff for you.

Watch only silly comedies and cartoons on television, skip over any station that has that annoying news reel on the bottom.

Follow up on the stupid gossip about celebrities, instead of browsing news on the web, browse the worst and best dressed photo galleries.

Turn off the computer and the TV and read an actual book.

Remove all apps and services that stream breaking news to your phone.

Bake a cake or cookies, I have found that baking is great therapy for anxiety, it’s when I do my best thinking.

Go out more, with people who are not into current events, like artists,  athletes, etc… they are mostly into what they are doing, and are not prone to engage in too much political talk.

Spend time nurturing a hobby.

There are other coping strategies of course, like drinking, drugs, pornography, etc.. but those can come back and bite you in the ass and create additional anxiety later.

And I must admit, that none of the strategies listed above work for me anymore, so I am seeking new ones and welcome any suggestions.

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Filed under Anthropology, Social Organization

The Rhetoric of Anger and Hate on Social Networks

Why is it that people allow themselves to hate angrily and aggressively on Facebook and other social networks?  Is spewing poisonous statements and absurdities left and right  acceptable in  cyber society?

I can’t tell you how many of my contacts on Facebook I have hidden in the past few weeks, and it keeps escalating… Those were people whose lives intersected with mine on different levels and at different times, people I had some kind of common ground with.  But sadly I find my list dwindling because of the rhetoric that has crossed all civilized communications boundaries.  I am not saying that I have hidden people whose opinions are not similar to mine, I enjoy differences of opinion; they enrich my human experience and sometimes a well presented argument can even sway my views. I have, however reluctantly,  hidden those people who are completely intolerant, hateful, illogical, and insulting.

There are as many political opinions in this region as there are people, and just as many religious and cultural ones.  Differences abound and are only highlighted with the many conflicts that are looming over what is called the Arab World.  Hateful statements deepen the chasm between humans and only create more hate, more anger, more aggression, and more conflict.

Do you imagine yourself stepping out on your porch or balcony and shouting out  hateful statements full of insults and foul offensive language?  Would you make blanket ignorant statements about this or that group of people if you knew one of them was listening? That is what you are doing when you post them on your wall on in your status!!!

I am in no way saying that we should not voice our opinions online, social networks are a great vehicle to get your voice heard and to create constructive dialogues.  However, I am saying that we should stick to the normally acceptable rules of civilized debate and communication even if it is online; the virtual world is comprised of real people, with real feelings and real lives.

Anger and Hate do bad things to the person harboring them and expressing these emotions carelessly, vulgarly, and with no real examination does not help, but only reflects the sad image of a sad human…

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Filed under Social Organization