In a time of high racial tension and important world news, social media can be a significant outlet to keep folks updated everywhere. Although, one thing we don’t talk about is how negatively it affects the Black community mentally and emotionally.
Speaking as a Black individual, I can tell you I am tired. Tired of waking up and going on Twitter to see another Black man or woman getting disrespected. Tired of scrolling down my Instagram timeline seeing gruesome videos of Black people getting killed for nothing. Tired of all the hashtags and stories of beautiful souls who were unjustly hurt or killed that pop up everyday. It’s tiring, draining, heart wrenching to say the least. While any traumatic news bears weight, it hits different when it’s your own people. For anyone consuming the chilling audios and visuals of our brothers and sisters suffering, the impact is severe. Not only do we grieve, but we see the grieving of others.
“Vicarious trauma is the emotional residue of exposure from working with people as they are hearing their trauma stories and become witnesses to the pain, fear, and terror that trauma survivors have endured.” (American Counseling Association). In other words, the news you hear every day or those racist videos that seem to pop up weekly can damage your mental health or wellbeing. It isn’t all in your head. Racially based trauma is real and in full effect.
The strong empathy inside of me, and many others can do nothing but have a heavy heart when we hear or see what’s going on around us. Mental health is a gigantic factor that needs to be looked at in times like this. Remember to be kind and inclusive. With the given circumstances, one thing to remember is that it is okay and normal to feel heavy-hearted. It is okay to cry, be upset or angered at the injustice people face. Set boundaries for yourself and others. You do not need to watch the latest video of protesters getting hurt or police brutality if you’re not mentally stable to do so. You do not need to partake in any conversations you don’t feel comfortable in. It is okay to take a break from social media. Most importantly, it is okay to reach out for help.