When Black death is caught on camera, the footage goes viral. In July of this year, the murder of Philando Castile, which was filmed via Facebook live by his girlfriend, was viewed more than 5 million times. Last month, Terence Crutcher was killed by an officer in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the YouTube video of his shooting already has more than one million views. The prevalence and frequency of police-action shootings and other traumatic instances can have a grave effect on the psyches of Black people.
While PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) affects approximately 7–8 percent of the country’s population, the National Survey of American Life (NSAL) shows that Blacks have a prevalence rate of 9.1 percent for PTSD, versus 6.8 percent in non-Hispanic Whites.
The reasons behind this rate vary, according to experts. Some suggest that cultural paranoia, racism and witnessing ethnoviolence (any hostile behavior against people solely because of their race, religion, ethnicity, nationality or sexual orientation) are to blame. At any rate, it is imperative that Black people learn to exercise self-care, particularly while navigating the digital sphere.
Check out these tips below from HuffPost writer Taryn Finley:
1. Turn video autoplay off on your social media pages.
You DO NOT have to watch the videos of these killings to stay informed. The autoplay setting on many platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, make this unavoidable, especially when the videos are shared over and over again on your timeline. Luckily, you can control whether or not you want these videos to automatically play. Tatiana King Jones shared screenshots of the process on Twitter to make the steps easy to follow. Simply adjust your settings on Facebook, both online and on the app, by selecting “settings,” click “videos” and switch video autoplay to “off.” After going into your Twitter settings, press “data” then “video autoplay” and “never play videos automatically” will be the last option. On Instagram, just tap the settings icon in the top-right corner of your profile and switch the autoplay option to off.
2. Follow accounts that inform and nurture you without force-feeding you torturous details.
The quickest way to send yourself into an anxious frenzy is looking at a string of triggering posts on your timeline. Make an effort to weed out the accounts that capitalize on Black death by posting purposefully “baity” content for the sake of a share or like. Make a list of some of your favorite accounts that inform you in a realistic, productive and ethical manner. A few examples of these accounts are Julia Craven, Wesley Lowery, Jamil Smith, Yamiche Alcindor, Xavier Burgin, Broderick Greer and Amandla Stenberg. Part of having a healthy social media life in times of crisis should also include nourishing your soul. Balance out the hard facts with social accounts that give meditative and reflective advice. Some accounts to get you started are Alex Elle, Tracy Clayton and Shelah Marie. Also indulge in a few hashtags that will put a smile on your face, like #CarefreeBlackKids2K16 created by Heben Nigatu.
3. Ignore the trolls.
Trolls deserve zero attention. This rings especially true when they use Black pain and death to taunt people who speak out against racism. Instead of stressing yourself over irrelevant trolls, realize that they went out of their way to search for your post — most likely behind a fake account ― and expose their bigotry. It’s usually a fruitless endeavor to explain how racism works to a Twitter account with an egg as an avatar, so do yourself a favor and use that block button.
4. Log off.
You shouldn’t feel guilty for unplugging for a few hours ― or days. Sometimes that is the best thing you can do for yourself in the midst of trauma. When you’re inundated with news updates, often times of a disturbing nature, staying informed can seem too heavy duty, so you have to balance the bad with the good. Take a walk, write in a journal, watch a movie or do anything productive that makes you happy. You can get lost in the digital madness if you don’t walk away every now and then. Don’t worry; everything will still be there when you get back.
5. Remember offline conversations are just as important as online conversations.
Confide in friends and family about how you’re feeling. Vent. Write it down. Talk to yourself. However you communicate your feelings, remember that it doesn’t have to always be online. It’s vital to have people in your life whose shoulder you can cry on and who can help you process traumatic events. It’s equally as important to have people who can uplift you and help reaffirm why your livelihood matters. A good support system is key. These are just a few tips that may help you remain hopeful. Maintaining your overall health is the only way you can continue to fight the good fight and help make a difference. And always remember, in the words of Kendrick Lamar, “we gon’ be alright.”