In a society where everyone has busy lives, social media seems to keep us connected. But is hiding behind a screen and communicating in Emojis and likes really connecting, or is it killing off our ability to cope in social situations and making us more anxious?
More of us are suffering from something called social anxiety, it seems. Also called social phobia, social anxiety is a disorder that makes us excessively fearful and self-conscious in social situations. Excessive is the key word – social anxiety can push us beyond having a few butterflies in the stomach when we walk into a party to a point where we can feel forced to avoid other people altogether.
And, according to Anxiety.org, social media can be a large contributing factor to this modern day plague.
How? When it comes to social media, people only post what they want others to see, carefully selecting and editing photos to portray a perfect life. Those photos of someone’s amazing sunny vacation with their perfect lover on Instagram don’t show the budget hotel, complete with poop stains on the toilet and cockroaches under the bed, or the rows and near break ups.
That leaves the rest of us in a state of ‘compare and despair’. Being exposed to streams of curated perfection makes our ordinary live feel dull, and can make us feel like failures, making us more anxious around others.
Spending too much time online can also eat into time that we could be spending with others. Miss someone and wonder what they’ve been up to? Do you call them and arrange to meet up, or grab your phone and start scrolling and clicking to see their news?
Spend too long staring at a screen and chatting over messenger, and we can forget what it’s like to be around real humans and experience real human emotions, making it all a bit overwhelming when we actually get out there.
As every new social trend or gadget seems to be actually pushing us further apart, it’s time to take back control.
Limit time spent on social media: Unless you really need to for any reason, resist the urge to check your phone every 2 seconds to see who’s liked your photo, if anyone has messaged or just to take a quick peek at your timeline. Limit your use of social media to 20mins in the morning and evening. If you are really struggling, leave your phone in another room and only get it when you actually have to use it.
Turn off notifications: They are there to prompt action. View your accounts when YOU decide. This takes away that feeling or urgency and fear of missing out. Everything will be there, waiting for you when you’re ready.
Next time you want to know what a friend is up to, rather than having a quick snoop on their profile or Face-timing them for a chat, give them a call and go and see them for a cuppa.
Tell your friends you’re spending less time on social media. Everyone now expects instant responses to everything, but that doesn’t mean you have to jump to it. You don’t have to explain why (though it might open up a good conversation), but otherwise they might wonder why you’ve suddenly gone a bit quiet. Tell them that if they need a quick response, they should call or text. That way, you won’t get left out.
Remember, a hug is ALWAYS better than a Facebook like.
Natty is a success coach who helps people with problems around dating, anxiety, depression and health. For more info, contact via her Facebook page HERE or email: firstname.lastname@example.org