It’s OK If You Don’t Know What to Post Right NowHere’s how to channel your emotions in a safe and productive way.
At this point, you’re well aware of the ongoing conflict in Israel and Palestine that’s recently killed thousands of people. Many who have ties to these places or communities are hurting, as is anyone who generally cares about the well-being of other humans.
The sense of loss, destruction, and uncertainty is overwhelming—and so are our social feeds. Instagram reels, TikToks, and Facebook rants make it seem like your neighbor, your friends, and your high school English teacher suddenly have degrees in international studies and very intense opinions on what’s going wrong here.
When we have emotions like rage, sadness, and grief about world events, making a one-minute video or sharing some words on our Instagram stories can feel like an outlet, says psychologist and researcher Nickolas Jones, PhD, who studies collective trauma on social media at the University of California, Irvine’s Silver Stress and Coping Lab.
Sharing our opinions on social media also enables us to feel like we’re doing something to raise awareness and show support. And that can be a relief when we mostly feel helpless and hopeless, explains psychotherapist Ruaa Jaber, LCSW, MFT. So it makes sense that people are talking about what’s happening and how they feel about it—as they should, if that’s what empowers them and that’s what they want to do.
With all that dialogue, posting to share where you stand or educate your out-of-touch uncle or just prove that you watch the news can feel like a thing you should do. You might also feel pressure because you think not speaking on social media implies you don’t give a damn.
But it’s valid if you’re not sure what to say or if you even want to post in the first place. There are some very good reasons for not posting if you’re uncomfortable doing so or you’re not fully informed (more on that later). And, as my own therapist told me this week—from one Jew to another—just because you don’t post on social media, doesn’t mean you couldn’t care less about what’s going on.
So, consider this permission to not join the convo online until you’re ready (or at all). And, if you’re up for it, this is also an invitation to dig a little deeper into where this pressure to post comes from, what to do with it, and how to channel your emotions in a safe and productive way.
Why we feel pressure to post.
Honestly, the reasons you might feel compelled to drop a reel, story, or TikTok are pretty much infinite. But there are a few common ideas that experts say might make speaking up on social media seem extra urgent in times of crisis like this.
When something heartbreaking and major happens, we often feel like we need to publicly condemn acts of violence explicitly or pick a side because we don’t want others to judge us for being silent, complicit, or neutral, says Jaber. Sometimes that can lead us to retweet or share emotionally compelling content without taking a sec to verify the information, because our gut instinct is screaming, “Yes, this! This is how I feel!”
You may also think that not speaking up on social media implies that you're unavailable for the people impacted by the emergency, like your friends or coworkers, who you really care about, Jaber says. If you’re part of those affected groups, posting might feel even more necessary because you don’t want your community to assume that you don’t care. For example, therapist Jessica Zweig, LCSW, says some Jewish clients have told her they feel like not posting would lead people to believe they weren’t hurting, having a hard time, or proud to be Jewish.
The idea that everyone we know is sharing their thoughts and feelings and breaking news also makes us feel compelled to join in. We’re social creatures. We want to be part of a group and to feel included, especially when the conversation affects so many, says psychologist and researcher Chrysalis Wright, PhD, the director of University of Central Florida’s Media and Migration Lab.
Another biggie: We feel like we need to prove to the internet that we know what’s going on in the world, says psychiatrist Juan Romero-Gaddi, MD.
Why it’s OK to resist that pressure.
At their core, those ideas about why we need to post are based on what people think of us—and that’s not exactly a satisfying reason to do something, right? Plus, if part of your motivation to post is to show that you’re informed or virtue signal, whatever you’re saying likely won’t add anything substantial to the convo. And it could take attention away from people directly affected, people who are hurting, says Dr. Wright.
It’s also worth considering the ramifications of posting without being fully educated, says Jaber. If you’re unsure about what’s going on but post anyway, your opinions may lack important context or be based on misleading info. Those false narratives tend to increase during times like this (and they have). “We're seeing this a lot with [people with large followings] that express support and pictures without any kind of context or actually knowing exactly what they're sharing on social media, and that can be really harmful,” says Dr. Romero-Gaddi.
Not posting things can protect you against the unsafe and unpredictable nature of social media backlash too, Jaber adds. “There’s a serious potential for the escalation of emotional, verbal, or physical violence when you share your opinion online,” she notes. It’s totally fine to put your safety first, she says.
Ultimately, everybody can (and should) choose the action that’s most in line with them, says Jaber. “Nobody should be dictating what or how much people share,” she says. “Social media is not for everybody.”
What to do instead.
Write out your feelings.
When you’re scrolling through tragic news—and opinions about that news—while also experiencing emotions like hopelessness, anger, and sadness, you can feel overstimulated and out of control, says Jaber. When that happens, writing out your feelings can help you cope with that sense of overwhelm because you’re literally slowing down your mind, says Dr. Romero-Gaddi. After all, you can’t write as fast as your thoughts, he says.
Free-write! Try poetry! Or journal about things like: What thoughts am I having? What am I experiencing in my body right now? What does overwhelm feel like to me?
Take a break.
Research suggests people are more likely to believe fake news when their emotions are heightened than when they’re not. And, since a lot of what we’re seeing online right now is extremely upsetting in a time where misinformation (and disinformation) is also a thing, signing off of social media can help you get some distance from intense emotions as you learn more about the conflict, says Dr. Romero-Gaddi. Say you just saw a really disturbing video on TikTok. Do something completely unrelated (go for a run or fold laundry or do some relaxing stretches). Then, give yourself time to fact check so you can get a better grip on what’s actually happening.
Have a less public conversation.
If you’re looking to vent your thoughts and feelings, talking to someone you know and trust (a therapist, a friend, a religious advisor, etc.) about how you’re feeling is a good alternative. They can be a sounding board and a safe space for you to express yourself without backlash or negative feedback, says Jaber. “It’s helpful to sit with a safe person and reflect if you’re feeling unsure, uncertain, or confused,” she says. “I’ve sat with people in sessions who have expressed feeling a variety of emotions but they cannot decipher where they stand and/or do not feel like they know enough to take a position.”
Hang with your people.
One of the reasons why showing solidarity online makes us feel good is because we’re connecting with other people, says Jaber. But you can get the same sense of community offline. Actually, you might even feel more connected because you’re able to give a hug or shoulder squeeze, which helps you feel the energy between you, she adds.
Chill with your religious community, your friends, a support group or healing circle…whoever you feel safe with. You don’t even have to talk about what’s going on if you don’t want to. Just being with those people to feel their love during times like these is enough, Jaber says.
Show your support offline.
Getting involved in non-internet ways can feel really meaningful during these moments too, says Dr. Romero-Gaddi. That could look like donating money, writing letters to Congress, or volunteering with an organization you align with.
You can also reach out to friends or family who are hurting right now, says Zweig. Something as simple as, “I know so much is happening, but I’m here for you. Let me know how I can best support you,” is a great start, she notes. An “I’m thinking of you” text works too.
This is the stuff that people on social media often don’t see—and you don’t owe it to anyone to prove that you care. “You're allowed to show up or not show up in any way that feels authentic to you,” says Zweig.
Wondermind does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a replacement for medical advice. Always consult a qualified health or mental health professional with any questions or concerns about your mental health.