Is My Anxiety Caused By My Media Habits?


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Or is it the other way around? Why is the world so confusing!

is a column by Jill Gutowitz in which she looks at everything from pop culture phenomena to the quirks of interpersonal relationships through the lens of someone who lives with anxiety.
Ladies, if you’ve been watching
Sunday nights and going to bed with absolute crushing anxiety, say, “Hell yeah!”
Remember when watching TV, going to the movies, or even scrolling through social media was a soothing, relaxing activity? Okay, maybe not social media. But still. If you’re out of your teens, then you’re old enough to remember what it was like to kick back at the end of the school or workday, and relax in front of the TV, and just tune out for a while. These days, consuming any media at all can feel exhausting, like taking on extra emotional labor on top of an already psychotic day—especially for someone like me, who’s already generally operating at a level 10 of anxiety.
Yet, I’m still doing it, day after day—scrolling, streaming, watching—engaged in a vicious cycle, a hell of my own creation. But is it really my
It’s no secret that the entire expanse of North America can currently be classified as a high-stress environment. Since Trump’s election in 2016, we’ve been deluged with daily, traumatic news stories about, well, you name it: police brutality, white supremacy, immigration horrors, human rights violations, disease, famine, climate change, and the ever-nearing end of the world. And on top of it all, women are unfairly asked to double down on their trauma consumption amidst our society’s reckoning with sexual harassment and rape culture. This shit sucks!
Sure, one can and should argue that Twitter, for example, has never
been stressful, but those of us who have been on this hell-app since 2009 remember when the social media site was used predominantly for relatable jokes and mean-but-funny commentary on celebrity culture.

These days, signing on to Twitter feels like plunging into the fiery core of the Earth, melting our faces off with heated political arguments and the constant consumption of tragedy.
Scrolling through Instagram can feel even worse, like we’re all just ignoring the tragedy we really
to be paying attention to and, instead, posting FaceTuned photos of ourselves in front of shitty, Instagram-friendly wall murals. Most days, I want to throw my phone into the sea, and then follow it in there—and not because I want to retrieve it.
The ever-present nature of social media is overwhelming, but so too is the proliferation of movies and TV shows that purposefully reflect the current sociopolitical climate. Kicking off your shoes at the end of the day and watching TV as a means of escapism feels like a nostalgic concept, not a lived reality. While “consuming media is stressing me out” sounds very privileged—and
2019—for anyone, like me, who suffers from generalized anxiety, it adds to the feeling that there’s nowhere to hide from our wicked world.
All of this has left me reevaluating my relationship to media, and how much consumption is required to be a responsible citizen, but doesn’t become irresponsible for a person suffering from mental health issues.
I know I’m not alone. Numerous articles have been written about the phenomenon of Trump-induced

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