Whether you're in the office, at home with your iPad, or lucky enough to have a commute with a 3G or — dare I say it — 4G connection, you probably spend a decent chunk of your time reading news articles, blogs, and other web content shared by friends on Facebook and Twitter, or some of your favorite websites (ahem, ahem). It's great to stay up to date on what's happening in the world, but there's some kinds of articles that you need to avoid. They're toxic, they don't improve your mental wellbeing, and they might even stress you out.
Studies have shown that bingeing on "bad news" can lead to stress. A survey by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard School of Public Health found that one in four Americans is stressed out "[a] great deal." One of the biggest actions the study's participants identified as a source of stress? Watching, reading, or listening to the news. Not surprising, given the endless news cycles that benefit from getting you hooked to a dire situation on some corner of the globe.
But toxic news goes beyond the typical news stories of floods, plane crashes, and war. Try to control your consumption of the below. Oh, and you can watch more videos of kittens and puppies to help you fully recover.
1) Scary Food News
Watch out for processed meats. They cause cancer! Too much good cholesterol? Well, that's bad for you too. It's important to eat healthy and care about nutrition, but stressing about every dire headline could leave you eating water and spinach — but be careful! Even that could have salmonella.
2) Distracting And Crazy News
Then there are the stories that never die despite not advancing the national conversation on anything. Perhaps Rachel Dolezal's assumption of a black identity is troublesome and must be called out. But weeks to months of obsession on her arguably distracted us from real issues of systemic racism like police brutality and access to equal education.
3) "Social Media Is Taking Over Our Lives" News
Doomsday scenarios are abundant. Science websites tell us that social media activates the same part of our brain as drugs. Find a balance that's right for you and take a pass on these articles — reading them all could take up just as much time.
4) "Millennials Are Lazy" News
We are not lazy. Or entitled. You know this. I know this. Give yourself a break from the self-analysis and be confident in yourself. Or blame the baby boomers.
5) Islamophobic News
The supposed "no-go zones" in Paris are one of the many examples of Islamophobic reporting this year. After the Charlie Hebdo shooting, a terrorism expert on Fox News claimed that entire swathes of Europe were "no-go zones" for non-Muslims, "where Sharia courts are set up, where Muslim density is very intense, where police don't go in." Fox News later apologized on multiple occasions, for the inaccuracy.
6) "Student Debt Will Ruin Your Life" News
With headlines like, "Student Debt Is Worse Than You Think," no wonder millennials with loans start to twitch and hyperventilate when thinking through their loan payments. Clearly these articles should be written so that the system changes, but be nice to yourself and only read them in a safe space.
7) Female Celebrity Brawls
She said, she said. The media loves it when anybody gets into a little Twitter brawl, but when it's two women, they play it up even more. Take Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj's post-VMA exchange. Did anyone focus on the real issues brought up by Minaj? Or how maturely they worked it out?