Does social media cause anxiety? How many hours a day are you scrolling through Facebook or Instagram? I’m guessing probably a lot. Everyday we spend more and more time on our phones and computers looking at what the rest of the world is doing.
I’ll be honest…it f***ing pisses me off. Maybe I just don’t give a f*** what anyone else is doing, or maybe I’m just content in my own little world. I’m going to tell you the answer is the latter. It seems we’ve become obsessed with what our friends and our favourite celebrities are doing.We’re even developing social media anxiety disorder. This phenomenon is common in teenagers (and narcissists) and it basically means that those who suffer with it are constantly anxious when they’re not checking their social media accounts.
Look, I’m not going to slate Facebook and the like. I believe they have a purpose – however people are taking them too seriously. They make everyones need to be liked and loved obsessive and leads people into anxiety with a scroll of the thumb.
How many times do you check your account in a day? How many times do you post?
I Used to Be a Facebook Addict
When I was suffering with my generalised anxiety disorder, I, of course, developed social media anxiety disorder. Wow, so many disorders. Anyway, I became obsessed with numbers and followers. How many people liked my post? how many people said ‘happy birthday’ on my wall?
Funny now, but things I gave a f*** about at the time.
When the numbers weren’t enough, I felt really anxious. Did people not like me anymore? It seems quite pathetic now but it was easy to get lost in the online social media world and grow a need to be accepted by strangers.
I used to check my Facebook account all day long. Aimlessly scrolling through my feed, I’d like a photo here and there and flick through posts to no avail. Pointless.
What was I doing? I still use Facebook, but it no longer holds any weight for me. I’m genuinely no longer interested in what others are doing 24/7 and I often try to remember life without social media. I honestly can’t remember what it was like. Sad.
You could be suffering from social media anxiety if;
- You’re worried you’re missing updates when you’re not live
- The amount of ‘likes’ you get makes you feel on edge
- You constantly check your accounts
- You’re worried what others think of you
- You compare yourself to others’ photos and lifestyle constantly
Why Are You Staring at Your Phone Constantly?
Look, I love gadgets. I love my phone. However I no longer aimlessly look through my social accounts ‘just because.’ For me, there’s nothing sadder than seeing someone staring at their smartphone trying to digest everything that flashes up.
Again, I couldn’t give a f***. When I was checking my social accounts day and night, I was in an increased state of anxiety. It’s obvious that if you don’t get a response from a friend, after a while, you begin to manifest in your mind reasons for that.
‘Don’t they like me anymore?’ and ‘what did I do wrong?’
I know many people who terminated their social accounts because of this reason. They gave too much weight to these unwarranted thoughts. It’s a common problem that most of us now have. Gone are the days of peace and quiet when all you have to do is reach into your pocket, press a button and have the world scream at you.
It’s too easy to do.
I’ll be the first to admit, I look at my phone for a huge chunk of the day but it’s now for a different reason. Now, I’m trying to spend my time on my phone for productive things like responding to comments, answering questions on Quora and reading articles I find interesting.
One of the biggest issues is, the time being spent by people on their phones is time spent doing mind-numbing activities. How much time would you get back in a day if you removed your phone for 24 hours? I’m guessing quite a bit.
I know that this may come off as a rant but I feel like it something that needs to be said as this issue is something that affects almost everyone that I know. I’m not saying that I know best, but, removing time away from social media has calmed my related anxieties.
Do You Get Wrapped Up in the Drama?
If you’re a parent and you’ve been amongst the women in the playground, you’ve probably heard conversations about dramas online that are usually exchanged on a social network. People are easily lead into dramas online.
I’ve allowed myself to get involved in this kind of behaviour too. The reason this is so bad for your anxiety is, the conversation carries on and on especially when in a hostile fashion, everyone gets notified as the drama continues.
Normally, the drama is not resolved and leaves everyone with a bitter taste in their mouths. We know that fighting over the internet never leads to any conclusions and yet we seem to naturally jump towards the drama. Maybe it’s human nature but there are too many bored people trying to get involved in someone else’s dramas.
This leaves everyone with a sense of anxiety. If you start a fight online, it is a continuous process that carries on and on. So, do yourself a favour and avoid pointless dramas when you can.
Do You Crave the Likes?
If you’re addicted to the ‘likes’ it can be a dangerous road for you mentally. Constantly craving the attention and acceptance of others does nothing but build your anxiety after you hit that post button. Maybe you’re on holiday and want that beach snap to get 100 likes. Maybe it barely gets 10. How would that make you feel?
If you say you don’t care, you’re part of the minority.
I’ve overheard plenty of conversations where person X says to Person Y ‘I can’t believe I only got 6 likes on my selfie’.
The fact that they care is sad but I can’t blame them. It’s how we’re trained to think. We all want to be accepted and when our perception of acceptance doesn’t materialise, we blame ourselves and think we need to try harder to be accepted.
We have a generation of people who value their digital selves more than their physical selves. They want to be loved by posting staged photos and inspirational quotes. The truth of the matter is, if they were only themselves they’d have less social media anxiety and more peace within themselves.
This generation isn’t alone as more and more people are suffering with social media anxiety.
When I Stopped Caring
There is a need for perfection, to be seen as something more than we are and it’s making everyone and their dog become a pretentious selfie queen/king.
Maybe it’s an age thing, maybe it was just time. When Facebook for example first came a long, I fell into the category of people who wanted to be socially loved. I wanted to be accepted as ‘good enough’ and ‘follow worthy’. Obviously, this allowed me to become anxious to the point where I’d check my phone all evening after I’d posted a picture of my food.
One day, I stopped caring. I moved away from the social spot light and stopped the aimless scrolling through photos of people I, A: barely knew and B: didn’t have anything in common with. Social media now holds no weighted value for me at all.
Instead I noticed that it was making me anxious. I was still anxious even if I hadn’t posted anything that day. I was anxious because I thought I might miss something important if I didn’t check my phone. The constant stream of content was too much to ignore and I lapped as much up as I could before I went to bed.
Aside from overcoming my generalised anxiety disorder, I’ve never felt more free than when I stepped away from intense social media use.
I also started to notice that nothing I was seeing gave me any value. It’s something that I now try and avoid when I can. It’s the same for TV. I’ll try and avoid a show that doesn’t serve me any value and will instead read something I’m interested in. This alone is enough to ease any anxiety I may be feeling at the time.
It all comes down to your priorities.
Do you want to keep filling your mind with pointless garbage, or do you want to feed it valuable information that actually serves you in some way?
I know it’s easy for me to say, switch off Facebook and Instagram. These tools are things to keep your mind busy. However, what I do encourage you to do if you’re finding yourself caring too much about the reactions you get, the likes you harvest and if you’re becoming anxious – just stop.
Focus yourself on something productive. Something that’ll benefit you in the long run. The truth is, no one will care or remember today’s updates but it’s time you can spend doing something worthwhile for yourself. It’s time you can invest in yourself that’ll pay off in some way later.
I hope this post was insightful in some way.
Here’s to your success – Sean
This post was previously published on Project Energise and is republished here with permission from the author.
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