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Does Social Media Cause Anxiety?

iStock_000031123622_SmallYeah, it does. And it can create anti-social behavior as well. But I’m OK with it (within reason)

I recently read two interesting articles on this subject called FOMO is a real thing, and it’s adversely affecting teens on social media and People Visit Each Other Less Because Of Social Media.

The FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) article sites that teen behavior (in the UK where the study was based) is affected by heavy social media behavior. The study from the University of Glasgow says that FOMO is real and it does affects teen usage. There is an “immediacy” of social media that often creates an anxiety to respond in warp-speed. Stephen Covey in his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People called this Quadrant III—Urgent, But Not Important. The study showed that “teens who were extremely active and also emotionally invested in their digital lives reported worse sleep quality, lower self-esteem, and higher instances of anxiety and depression when compared to their peers who cared less”.

The second article on People Visiting Less paints a similar picture across a wider audience. In the National Travel Survey conducted by the UK Department of Transport it found that the number of visits people pay to socialize with friends has declined by a third over the last two decades, from 192 visits per year in 1995 to 136 visits in 2014 and the vast majority of this decline was the decline in visiting your friends home.

It’s fair to think about whether social media is a surrogate activity for good old face-to-face socializing of yesteryear, as well as the decline of similarly ancient telephone conversation. The thesis is that social media allows for posting of ones thoughts and activities and it welcomes comment which is communication at some level. But the bigger question is whether social media encourages superficial interpersonal relationships with many faux “friends” at the expense of far deeper personal relationships based on emotions. While it’s not easy to draw the definitive conclusion, it’s fair to surmise that heavier social media can contribute to anti-social behavior that puts face to face contact as a last, not first resort.

I love social media and like to think it has opened my world further and I know for a “veteran” such as myself, it has actually been a tool to reopen formerly dormant relationships. I am thankful for those rejuvenated relationships and the role that social played to help rekindle them.

On the other hand, is it really important to check Facebook and other social platforms multiple times hourly (yes, I’m guilty)? And what does doing so do to your life?

Interesting stuff to ponder.




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2 Comments

  1. Margye says:

    Yes it does but only in the sense that I worry that I’m a) not creating interesting enough content for my company; b) engaging the right people; or c) losing myself in work and not enjoying connecting with my friends enough.

    Tea & Skype help to reduce the stress.

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