Emma Orlando unpicks our social media obsessions and gives you tips on how to overcome your social media anxiety
Edited by Natalie Whitmore
There is no denying the benefits of social media: Communication couldn’t be easier, you can stay connected with faraway friends and family, and it stages a whole world of voices bringing issues to light that would never get attention without it (think movements like #blacklivesmatter or the freeing of Seaworld’s ocras).
That being said, unfortunately the benefits come with a whole list of troubles attached.
To say that we are addicted would be a (huge) understatement.
We are completely obsessed to the point where we now even consider to have an online identity. Essentially, we have an identity that’s ours, and one that we choose to share with everyone else online.
Our personality is now made up of each of our social media accounts: Our Instagrams are a gallery showcasing how glamorous we can be, our Twitters are the expression of our worldly sense of humour and opinions, and our Facebooks aspire to show how popular we are. Of course this isn’t really our true everyday selves. Social media can be a paradox of our actual lives, but the lines between what’s real and what’s not are wearing thin.
Experiences are becoming more about how they will look online than what they actually are in real life. We spend more time sitting on our phones trying to make an event look good than we do truly enjoying it. Have you caught yourself trying to get the right lighting, or choosing the right filter? So long as it looks impressive to others, nothing else really matters. If we get a funny Snapchat story then it was a good night, regardless of us having spent time trying to capture it.
In reality, moments have always been captured (think back to getting dressed up as a prefect family for those dreaded photo-shoots), but the big difference now is how much they’re shared. Photos used to be taken, printed, and put in frames for only those who you would invite round your house to see.
Now hundreds of our photos are shared instantly with people we don’t even know. And what’s more, a lot of us really care about what those strangers think. We put so much thought into sharing our “perfect” lives with people that actually know nothing about it. We have stopped doing things because we want to, and instead doing them for how it will make our lives look.
Yes, there is a lot that we can experience out there, which should be captured, but, it is hard to avoid is the pressure and unnecessary anxiety that comes with being active on social media. We care more than ever about what people think of us, and we can’t stop analysing our online identity.
We can feel as though we are missing out on something, and that our lives just aren’t quite good enough. Studies show that our self-esteem is lower than ever, with the demand of us having to create and monitor an online persona. As if we didn’t have enough to feel stressed about, we now have pressure over something that’s not even real. If our selfie doesn’t reach over 11 likes then we aren’t pretty enough. If our dinner plate isn’t worthy of the food porn hashtag then it wasn’t worth eating, and if we aren’t a part of squad that is ‘goals’ then we must be lonely. Right?
It’s so deeply rooted in western-society, that once you’re into social media, it’s hard to get out of the trap. But that doesn’t mean you should just put up with the anxiety- there are little things that you can do.
Here are 5 things that could help lessen your social media obsession:
Go on a short detox
Try one weekend without your phone. The idea may fill you with complete fear, but you might just realise that you can easily live without constantly being up-to-date with the lives of others.
Make your accounts private
Choosing who sees the content you post could help to eliminate pressure of people you don’t know looking into your life. Chose wisely who follows you and it may help to put your mind at ease a bit, and keep your private life to yourself.
Give yourself restrictions
Try to give yourself times to be on social media. You could start by only flicking through it on your lunch breaks, and always putting your phone down at other times. You might find that the less you are online, the less you feel the need to be.
Only post once a day
Only posting one thing a day will help to stop you from broadcasting every bit of your life. Picking one thing to share could help to eliminate the pressure of constantly updating on every little thing that you do.
Make sure you socialise with your friends and family
Turing down opportunities to socialise only to sit in on your phone, or worse, meeting up with your friends to all be attached to your news-feeds, should never be okay. Instead of looking at everyone else socialising online, try to have some good-quality time with your friends and family.