Social anxiety and social media can form a rather toxic relationship. Social media can offer significant benefits for those with a large following. However, the negative effects it can have on those individuals and those who may not have a big following but are targeted by others can be brutal.
Social media can be hard to navigate for anyone. People who suffer from social anxiety disorder can have a harder time with its complexity of it. It can appear easier to be yourself or feel freer behind a keyboard and screen. However, bullies and people with something to say about everyone and everything enjoy it for those same reasons.
Due to this reality, social media use can exacerbate and intensify social anxiety disorder. Finding the balance between everyday life and the world of social media is challenging. Social media can begin to affect your everyday life. Neither the existence of social media nor social anxiety is coming to an end. However, there are ways to combat social anxiety and live more comfortably in a social media-driven society.
What Is Social Anxiety Disorder?
Social anxiety disorder is the persistent fear of being watched and judged by others. As it stands alone, anxiety isn’t necessarily problematic. It is a defense mechanism that can be healthy and even life-saving in dangerous situations. When fear of inevitable uncertainties is at constant war with mindfulness, you are likely always anxious. If you have experienced these feelings for at least six months, you may also have a social anxiety disorder.
What Is Social Media?
Social media is apps and website platforms created for users to create content and network virtually. These platforms and the advancement of technology continue to change the world. There was a time when cell phones were not a thing. Even computers were sitting on top of a desk or table without the option of easy transport.
Those times have changed, and technology has changed how people communicate and see the world. The evolution of social media took the world by storm not long ago. The birth of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter sent people into an opinionated uproar. People were given the opportunity to show themselves and their opinions to the world.
These platforms offer a variety of opportunities and are major communication mediums that so many people rely on.
The Relationship Between Social Media and Social Anxiety
While these platforms may have been created to enhance socially distant relationships, they have far superseded their expectations. They have positive as well as negative effects on society. Too much online scrolling and social media can hurt a person. Whereas people also can go viral and gain monetary value from their virtual presence.
One of the primary negative impacts that social media has had on society is its contribution to social anxiety. Too much social media can interrupt schoolwork for students and important face-to-face social time for young adults to working professionals. People can become Internet famous, so there is also a section of misfits in the social media stratosphere.
You can probably remember those days in high school when certain people sat with certain people. This was all based on who was considered the “in crowd” or those that everybody else cared about. Whether or not you were the misfit in high school, no one wants to relive the high school experience online every day.
This can be even worse for those born into the social media era. Presently, there are teens in high school dealing with the popular or not-so-popular dilemmas at home, online, and at school physically as well. Anxiety has existed far longer than social media or the technology that gives it its power. However, social media comes with the power that fuels judgment, labeling, bullying, and a constant need to be socially anxious. Then there is the reality that social media is addictive, and scrolling makes you feel as if you are keeping up with society.
For someone living with social anxiety, social media can play a negative or positive role in their lives. They may be praised on social media and get positive comments where people like their posts. Or they may be ostracized and picked apart on their social media platforms. Either of these possibilities tends to seep through the screen and into their personal lives.
How to Cope With Social Anxiety and Social Media
No, it is not a crime to have a negative thought or opinion of someone. However, no one wants to hear negative thoughts and ideas about themselves from others on a worldwide platform. Having a social media following should not give anyone permission to feel as if they can treat others poorly.
Living in a world where social media is ever-present can be rough for someone also living with social anxiety disorder. Some treatments that can help you to cope with the hybrid of these worlds are mindfulness meditation, behavior modification, and other psychotherapy treatments.
At SoCal Mental Health, we can provide you with the appropriate support and treatment. Psychoanalysis can help us tailor a treatment plan to your specific needs. With mindfulness meditation, we can show you ways to meditate and center yourself, reducing the symptoms of your anxiety. Behavior modification can help to change certain behaviors without the involvement of ideas or emotions. Psychotherapy can offer you a safe space to release the tensions of your mind and anxieties that perplex you daily.
Decreasing the intensity of social anxiety if you suffer from this disorder can make social media safer for you. Social media should be fun, educational, and a virtual place to network and grow. However, sometimes social media platforms are used for unintended purposes. Users can be bullied, targeted, and feel uncomfortable. No one needs to experience this, but it can be more harmful to someone already living with anxiety. If you have a social anxiety disorder and enjoy social media but have some apprehension about using it, we can help. Call SoCal Mental Heath today to find tools to navigate social media as a person suffering from social anxiety. You can reach us at (888) 312-0219.