The internet is a complex thing. It gives us a place to network and socialise without really socialising, a place to work from home, a place to shop without being out in a public space. In theory, the internet sounds like an amazing place for someone with a social anxiety disorder but is all that stuff actually helpful or does it do more harm than good?
Social media in particular has had a massive impact on our generation, bringing with it some fairly negative experiences and causing a rise in anxiety and depression, especially in young people.
It’s no surprise when you have a platform such as Instagram, where people lie about their lives more than ever. Feeds are curated to perfection, images are edited and contrived and we post photos simply for validation and likes. I love Instagram but I’m very careful about who I follow, as it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the fakery and feel like you NEED to look like every influencer out there or lead a more interesting life because you see only the good stuff, cherry picked for social media.
Then there’s Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter… It’s a constant upkeep of showing your best bits but in the same breath wondering why everyone seems to be having more fun than you, looks effortlessly better than you, even eats better fucking food than you!
Sometimes it just feels like social media is there to make us feel worse about our lives and to keep us constantly overwhelmed. So how do we survive it?
Using Social Media For Good
Not all is bad in the world of social media, not when you can access support groups in an instant or when you can use it to raise awareness or find a long-lost friend or family member. There are definitely positives to using it.
You can use it to practise talking to people, to speak to people about your mental health when you struggle talking about it face-to-face. You can use it to feel less alone when you’re going through a personal struggle.
You can join Twitter chats to talk specifically about mental health.
Keeping Your Circle Closed
You don’t have to follow accounts that make you feel shit about yourself, just because you’re on social media and you also don’t need to have people following you that make you feel as though you have to make your life look “perfect”.
You can still exist on social media for all of the good stuff without opening your world up for scrutiny. Keep your profiles private, only follow people you trust and feel comfortable with, block any followers that create negativity.
Take Time Off
Going unplugged for a few days can do wonders for your mental health. You learn to be present in the moment, you have to leave your comfort zone to interact with people or you can choose to get some much-needed peace and quiet that the constant buzzing of notifications don’t normally allow.
Taking time off from social media can be especially helpful if you have a propensity to be obsessive over it. Which I think many of us tend to be anyway.
Remember What You See Isn’t The Whole Picture
It’s so important to remind yourself that behind the perfect, airbrushed, curated, overly filtered, cropped and posed pictures you see on social media – there is chaos, insecurity, real flaws, emotion, NORMAL things that we all feel and experience because what you see on your news feed is someones highlights, their best bits, NOT their usual day-to-day.
What are the best and worst parts about being on social media for you and how do you feel it impacts your social anxiety?