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Self-Quarantine from Information Overload in the Age of Panic & Fear

As with any crisis and emergency situation, those who are directly affected do not have the time to tweet or update their Facebook status. Which means there is a majority of the population who is not directly affected and has all the time to donate to panic or fear.

Technology companies have literally programmed every other platform to make humans addicted to them (read: Brain Hacking or this article on 7 techniques they use), it is a vicious cycle and a dangerous one to drive human behaviour and civilisation to the end of the world.

So I made a list of 5 tips for myself to help maintain sanity. This could apply to anyone who is not in the designated high risk population.

1. One Source

Choose only one source to get information and updates from. Depending on your needs and circumstances, there is a plethora of information sources from government or designated contact institutions that are setup for a crisis. Choose any one based on your preference. Block all others, do not look at forwarded messages. Do not forward messages or info-graphics or other random advise which is not from your chosen source.

2. Keep in touch with your closed ones regularly

Drop a message, call them, talk to them. Good chance to catch up on the mundane gossip. Just check on them. See if they need something or help out if they need to. Turn features like Last Seen or Location Sharing ON for the time being at least. And ask them to follow rule #1 especially in family WhatsApp or other community groups you have with your friends, family etc. turn the unnecessary chatter off. Share jokes, funny memes.

3. Do not watch TV pseudo-news shows

Especially the ones with too much information on their screens and hosts who are just shouting. This is a no-brainer. Turn that TV off. The less sensory overload you have the better. You need to keep your bodily senses at optimum levels so cut down the unnecessary stimulation to your eyes, ears. Information in plain-text is the best for such people or a news channel that comforts you instead of trigger. Usually the official government news channels are providing accurate info in a less dramatic fashion. Thank you Doordarshan.

4. Shut down rumour forwarders

Received a forward that talks about facts, news, updates on the current situation? If this information is not from your chosen source (Rule #1), and it does not really clearly cite the source – start questioning the sender. But with rumours, just tell the person directly, “Can you please stop sending me messages about this topic?” Today most of the people have access to information and a lot of rumours spread around from people sending unsolicited information to all their contacts. Stop them right then and there. If they are really bad ones i.e. sending too many forwards, temporarily block them.

5. Keep a close circle

Social contacts, WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter; chances are you have access to a whole lot of other people online. How about just focus on the ones that matter to you, are physically closer to you or just your family and friends? For e.g. your local community, or people in your building are a better set of people to keep in regular touch with or receive information from, than someone tweeting in a different country. It does not matter if someone found a crucial piece of information that excited them and it has gone viral. Don’t share that. Internet bandwidth and load on technical infrastructure increases. The less you use for useless stuff, the more you have to watch a movie online when everyone is sitting home locked in, and the capacity of internet providers are on full throttle.

Tip #6: Go offline.

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