“I can't even read this anymore. You can't call things by their name in Gaza until some politician with blood on his hands allows it”. “Why help Ukraine? After all, a large percentage of aid is stolen by oligarchs who don't even hide it”. “And DR Congo? Why don't we talk about it? After all, thousands of children's lives are worth a smartphone for lazy Europeans. Truth hurts!”.

What do these three sentences have in common? There are three things. People who follow me on Instagram sent each of them to me. Each of them is untrue. Each one is an expression of difficult emotions that accumulate when we constantly read and watch news about wars, disasters, and tragedies. How to deal with difficult events when the world seems to be shaking? Here are some tips. At the end of the article, I will tell you why refraining from sharing this type of information further can save lives.

1. Social media diet

As a creator of various content on Instagram, I often encounter people's surprise when I mention that social media isn't a reliable source of information. However, I also acknowledge that most Polish-language media aren't reliable either. So, what's the solution? Turn off social media and check out point five!

2. If you feel overwhelmed, halt the influx of information

During times of crisis, social media algorithms and online news platforms can become akin to relentless predators, bombarding us with content. When faced with such challenges, my approach is straightforward: I limit my news consumption to once or twice a day. As someone involved in media work, I find it unnecessary to be immediately informed about every attack or explosion. It's essential to ask oneself: Is this information truly vital for me? Take control by pausing the influx of information and regulating when and what you choose to read.

3. Be mindful of your own biases

None of us are exempt from biases; stereotypes and the group effect are mechanisms ingrained in our minds and nervous systems. It's effortless for us to divide the world into "us" and "them," and emotions naturally arise when confronted with alarming or challenging information. Fear, anger, and joy are effectively exploited in propaganda, as I've discussed in previous texts.

Hence, when consuming information or contemplating sharing it, it's crucial to remember that harboring sympathies is natural. Recognize that it may be more challenging to process information that contradicts your preconceived notions.

4. Try to avoid polarization

Polarization, characterized by strong emotional divisions based on differing opinions, stands as one of the most potent tools of modern propaganda. Regardless of which side we support, it's vital to remember that those on the opposing side are people—often depicted as evil or deserving of punishment, yet fundamentally human. When we become advocates for one faction, we risk mindlessly echoing political rhetoric that polarizes and dehumanizes, such as phrases like "the fight against human animals" or the "war against orcs." This can lead to the justification of violence, even in its most abhorrent forms. As Friedrich Nietzsche famously observed, "When you look into the abyss, it also looks back at you."

5. Look for information from reliable sources

However, it's far more beneficial to gather information about global issues from reliable journalists rather than from social media or media outlets saturated with sensationalism. These journalists provide accurate descriptions of events unfolding in Asia, Africa, or South America.

What's crucial is that the content produced by these journalists is accessible beyond social media platforms, including texts, recordings, and podcasts. For those interested in foreign media, I highly recommend sources like the BBC Global News Podcast, the "World" section of The Guardian, and traditional news agencies such as Reuters and the Associated Press.

In response to the growing demand for reliable information, I've recently begun curating a newsletter in Polish. In it, I select and discuss the most compelling news stories, providing links to further expand on the context (you can subscribe here).

6. Remember that you don't have to share or comment on anything

Social media algorithms, as well as certain creators—especially those propagating propaganda—often encourage or even manipulate us into commenting on or sharing their content, sometimes making us feel a moral obligation to do so. However, there's no real necessity to share content depicting another dying child or to engage in futile arguments over who is right.

From personal experience, I've found that discussions on social media—rife with trolls, bots, and individuals venting their frustrations—rarely lead to meaningful influence, especially on topics to which we're emotionally attached.

7. Social media content amplifies radical voices

The debate on social media tends to be difficult and frequently exhausting for several reasons. Firstly, algorithms amplify extreme viewpoints, promoting black-and-white thinking and highlighting comments that are, to put it mildly, lacking in intelligence. However, the world is far from being black and white; understanding this stark contrast can be draining, particularly when we're bombarded with propagandist rhetoric advocating extreme measures like the use of nuclear weapons.

To preserve your mental well-being, it's essential to shift your focus towards more constructive and thoughtful solutions. Instead of immersing yourself in contentious discussions, actively seek out voices advocating for peace and rational discourse. By doing so, you can free your mind from the cycle of polarization and contribute positively to the online discourse.

8. Look for sparks of empathy and hope

One way to seek solutions is by considering the perspective of others. Since the onset of the conflict in the Gaza Strip, such efforts have been undertaken by the Standing Together Movement (STM) and Israeli activist Maoz Inon. Inon, who tragically lost both parents in a Hamas attack on October 7, began advocating for non-retribution just two days later. The STM movement advocates for an end to violence, striving for peaceful resolutions and, notably, crafting a narrative to illustrate that this conflict devastates not only Gaza but also Israel. Take care of yourself—and those who witness your actions on social media—by becoming a beacon of hope or peace. Because violence destroys everything.


Numerous studies demonstrate that the constant exposure to and consumption of negative news regarding conflicts and disasters can significantly impact our mental health. In this regard, each of the three messages I received - and described at the beginning of this text - not only contributes to exacerbating the situation but also has a detrimental effect on our minds and bodies by disseminating truth and fostering division.

Let's refrain from asserting that politicians prohibit discussions about the situation in Gaza (though they may make it challenging, they do not outright forbid it). Let's also avoid propagating Putin's narrative that Ukraine is a corrupt country misusing aid funds for oligarchs' luxuries—a claim that lacks substantiation (and if such instances occur, they should be specified rather than generalized). Similarly, let's not create the misconception that there's no interest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's situation—Polish media audiences could become engaged if the information were presented in an engaging manner. However, this requires funding, which brings us back to the issue of Polish media not prioritizing the creation of compelling international stories due to a perceived lack of interest—a vicious circle indeed. Nevertheless, I remain hopeful that this situation will soon change.

About the author:

Karol Wilczyński, Ph.D. - writer and teacher. He works at Jagiellonian University where he teaches Migration, Political Issues of the Middle East, and Islamophobia. He publishes on his Instagram: @wilczynski.karol

Background photo: Fires in Israel and the Gaza strip - 7 October 2023 by Pierre Markuse. Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data [2023], processed by Pierre Markuse (CC BY 2.0).

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