Dubai: From bombings at airports to people getting shot, social media has been filled this year with photos and videos of violent acts of crime.
The barrage of news, ranging from France and Turkey to Orlando and Minnesota in the US, have been flooding Twitter and Facebook – affecting social media users more than they realise.
Research carried out by the University of Bradford in England found out that some social media users could develop the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by viewing violent or disturbing content.
The 2015 study, carried out by Dr Pam Ramsden, surveyed 189 people about their reactions to a range of events, including the September 11 attacks, school shootings and suicide bombings.
She found that more than a fifth of respondents scored high on clinical measures of PTSD from seeing pictures on social media, despite not having experienced the traumatic events first-hand.
The study also discovered that people who viewed violent events more often were more affected than people who viewed them less, and that extroverts were at a higher risk of being disturbed by graphic images.
Mary John, a Dubai-based clinical psychologist, told Gulf News that while some people could become desensitised, she agreed that others who are prone to fear could indeed face symptoms of PTSD.
“[In the case] when princess Diana died, many women sought counselling as they were traumatised by the way she died. That was because they could identify with the princess’s problems,” said John.
“When violent incidents happen, the trauma can affect anyone who can related to the incident, particularly those who are sympathetic,” she said.
When it comes to coping skills, John explained that everybody deals with stress differently.
“Some turn to God, while others fall into a depression. Everybody needs to remember that traumatic events like these are going to happen, and its something that we all need to face with restraint and conviction.
“Don’t close your eyes but muster courage in yourselves, and have faith in humanity.”
How to limit bad news
Limit your exposure to social media. Allocate time slots.
If you feel that the news will affect you, just read the headline.
Focus on the good news. Some websites actually do publish good news.
Mute the conversation. Twitter and Tweetdeck give the option of muting conversations and specific keywords so you can temporarily block them from your feed.
Be conscious. Understand what your emotional triggers are and know what kind of news is most likely to upset you. You don’t have to click on every link.