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WITH NEARLY 7 in 10 Americans using some form of social media, journalists aren’t the only ones wrestling with the images and videos that flood their newsfeeds without warning. Here’s what to do next time you find yourself confronted with traumatic content online.
Hit “pause.” Don’t view traumatic material without a procedure in mind. Take a moment to stare out a window or at an indoor plant. This disrupts the tendency to cruise-ahead on autopilot.
Ask: Do I need to see this? If you know this material is old or is of no real relevance to your objectives, it is best not to engage.
Ask: Do I need to see this now? It is best not to view violent material when you are tired. If you decide to continue viewing ...
Make the viewing window on your computer smaller. This disrupts the narrative flow of the material and builds in distance.
Steel yourself. Put on imaginary protective clothing of some kind, such as a raincoat, or visualize that bulletproof glass exists between oneself and the screen—techniques used by forensic investigators.
Lower the sound, or turn it off altogether. Sound is often the most affecting part of a video. You can always turn it back on later if you need to.
Scrub through. Drag your cursor through the timeline to locate aversive sections. If you don’t need to look at those parts in detail, don’t.
Adapted from the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma