This morning I was watching a video on the BBC about people who have given up social media completely. Which led me to wonder, is social media good or bad for anxiety?
- It enables you to keep in touch with friends and family
When you suffer from anxiety social media can be a great way to keep up with friends and family. It enables you to find out what is going on in others’ lives even when you might not be able to attend events in person.
- You can talk to others who experience anxiety
Anxiety can make you feel very alone, yet social media opens up a world where you are able to connect with people who also suffer from anxiety. It is invaluable to find others who understand what you are going through and who can talk to you from experience. Online interactions can provide support at times when you are feeling very vulnerable. This makes social media a great tool for preventing isolation.
- It can make you smile
Anxiety can make life seem hard work and serious sometimes. Social media provides entertainment that can brighten your day, with a joke or a cute picture here and there. The smiling and laughter that result, help you relax and are good for your health.
- It is easy to avoid face-to-face interactions
Social media is addictive. You don’t need the research to tell you that! It can be to hard to tear yourself away from your screen and communicate with people face-to-face. Most conversations can be done via typed message these days which means there is less need to interact in person. Avoidance of others is a big part of many forms of anxiety and social media helps you do this.
- You miss a number of communication signals
You may not be old enough to remember life before mobile phones and social media, but not so long ago if you wanted to talk to someone then you had to pick up the phone or visit them. When you talk with someone in the flesh, there are a number of signals that you pick up on without realising: intonation, gestures, body language and emotion. These are lost in social media. If you don’t use your face-to-face communication skills regularly then they begin to weaken, making the ability to connect harder.
- The content you see is filtered
Have you noticed that most people only put up positive or self-congratulatory posts on social media? This gives the impression that other peoples’ lives are all rainbows and unicorns. Obviously, social media posts do not give a complete picture of peoples’ lives. However, it is human nature to compare yourself to others. If you suffer from anxiety and are bombarded on a daily basis with all these images of people smiling and telling you of their successes, you can begin to think there is something wrong with you for feeling this way.
I’m undecided as to whether social media is good or bad.
On the one hand, it is actually part of my job to manage social media for a business. Social media provides me with a flexible job that I am able to maintain in spite of my anxiety because I can work from home some of the time. .
On the other hand, I have noticed how addictive social media is and how easy it is to start feeling depressed if you start seeing what everyone else is doing with their lives.
If my goal is to overcome my (social) anxiety then I need to focus on spending more time with people in the flesh, not less.
That means for the next month I will take a break from social media and see how it goes.