We all know that social anxiety disorder is a very real thing. It’s crippling to those who suffer from it, and it’s hard to watch a loved one go through it. And while I hate to bring up social media within the context of a serious disorder, I’m starting to wonder if there is such a thing as social media anxiety disorder. It seemed a ridiculous thought at first, because seriously, just turn the computer off–right? But the more I entertained the thought, the more valid it started seem.
Again, I start with my usual disclaimer. I am not slamming social media. Social media is not the devil. It’s a very useful tool, from marketing to keeping in touch with friends with whom you otherwise might have lost contact, to sharing information. And let’s not forget the girl who used Facebook to find her birth mother.
I use social media to share my blog posts, and will absolutely use it to market my book. As far as day jobs are concerned, I wouldn’t scoff at getting back into digital and social media marketing. I get it. I understand it. I truly enjoy it. And as someone who doesn’t particularly enjoy the telephone, I’d rather communicate via the computer (which is a whole other, relatively played out, post entirely).
That said, who gets stomach butterflies (and not in the good way) upon seeing a Facebook notification? Who signs in to Twitter and immediately signs back out again because the Twitter drama is just a little much that day? Who hears that “ping!” on the mobile device (or whatever sound you have your various social media alerts set to) and immediately wonders, “What now?”
I don’t think I need to point out that people are often much more vicious online than they would ever be in person, which leads me to wonder if people are being more honest, or if they’re just being jerks, trolls, or bullies. This, of course, leads me to wonder (and often judge myself) about why in the heck I even have relationships with these people to begin with. Is that where the anxiety comes from? Or, is it that in an effort to not exhibit these traits myself, I second guess every last thing I post? Unless there’s been wine, which again, is a whole other post entirely.
I’m even agonizing a little over this blog. Is it a smart career move to speak negatively about social media experiences when I’ve just admitted to possibly wanting to get back into digital and social media marketing down the line?
I think at this point, a lot of us have a love/hate relationship with social media. I have often fantasized about deleting my accounts altogether, which is always a rather short fantasy because, in this world, not having a social media presence means there’s something wrong with you. From employers thinking you have something to hide or aren’t tech savvy enough to figure it out, to commentaries about how James Holmes didn’t have a social media presence.
As it turns out, we have to have a social media presence and it has to be pristine. It can’t show us as we are, but as we want the world to believe we are or else *insert list of crappy things people are going to say/believe about you here*. It seems that social media has become another mask we have to wear. And maybe that’s where the anxiety comes from.
Is anyone else having this feeling, or is it just me?
Update: Apparently it’s not just me. Check out this great article from Julie Spira: Do You Suffer From Social Media Anxiety Disorder?