Social Media Anxiety Disorder: Do You Have It & How Can You Manage It?

Posted on Monday, May 13th, 2013 by Print This Post Print This Post

Categories - Featured, Social Media

stressed-woman

Yesterday was Mother’s Day in the US, and that should mean all mothers got to relax and unwind. But if the day involved constantly checking photo streams and status updates online, like most days do for the modern family, then it may not have been the case. Why? Well, a recent survey by TODAY Moms found that Pinterest is making nearly half of mothers stressed.

It seems that endless images of perfect parties, fabulous interiors and healthy meals are causing anxiety as mothers feel they cannot live up to their role in this idealised world. They feel inferior because they aren’t creative enough or crafty enough; they don’t have time to bake the perfect birthday cake or batch of cookies. Mothers are putting undue pressure on themselves to live up to being the perfect woman who makes those wonderful craft projects, wears those amazing outfits, and decorates their children’s bedrooms so fantastically, as presented to us on Pinterest.

The thing is, Pinterest isn’t the only social media network that's responsible for a mother's anxiety. The images people share on Facebook and Instagram often present an overly-fabulous view of life that can make all of us feel a little anxious. We are constantly faced with images of families having fun, beautiful birthday parties and fabulous weddings. You question whether you are having that much fun. Are your holidays as glamorous? Are your weekends that active or cultural? Was your wedding that fabulous? What we don't see is the reality of what was going on at the time, and of course it’s not always as perfect as we imagine. These images are a snapshot in time and often carefully selected as the picture to appear on a social network. The stress brought on by Pinterest can be seen as part of a larger range of anxieties arising from the use of social media, which may collectively be referred to as Social Media Anxiety Disorder (SMAD). This is not a medically recognised condition yet, although this is surely just a matter of time. There is some discussion around when the term was coined, although many attribute it to Julie Spira, author of ‘The Rules of Netiquette.’ So, how do you know whether you have SMAD? This can manifest itself in a number of ways but can largely be seen as an all-consuming and unhealthy obsession with what’s happening on social media. Have you ever posted something on Facebook only to keep checking back every 10 minutes to see how many likes or comments you have? Have you ever pinned a picture on Pinterest and worried that no-one has repinned it? Have you tweeted from your bed last thing at night before you sleep, or checked emails on your phone from your bed as soon as you wake up? If any of these sound familiar you could be suffering from Social Media Anxiety Disorder. So what can you do if you think you have Social Media Anxiety Disorder? Here are 5 possible ways to help you switch off: 1. Take some time away from social media each day. Even if it is just for an hour or two, go offline and enjoy some time without tweets, status updates or pins. 2. Get back into the habit of sending post rather than posting online. Make the effort to send actual birthday cards, thank you notes and letters instead of messages via social media. 3. Arrange to meet up with friends for a coffee, or call them if they live far away, rather than tweeting or emailing them. 4. Read a book or a magazine. Take 10 minutes to sit in silence with a drink and read, preferably not on an electronic device! 5. Rather than playing games online with your friends invite them over for the evening and enjoy playing a game around the table with good food and drink. There are so many ways you can get away from the all-consuming social media networks and the anxiety that can sometimes be associated with them. Keep things in perspective; realise that no-one is living the perfect Pinterest life, even if that’s what they may present online.  

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5 Responses to “Social Media Anxiety Disorder: Do You Have It & How Can You Manage It?”

  1. Barbara says:

    I COULD NOT AGREE MORE!!! (caps for emphasis) What has become of us? My children text good night from across the house (and the house isn’t that large), I get a thank you via mass email, we sit next to each other at the dinner table but everyone is engrossed with their own smart phone, our sense of worth is tied to pictures that strangers post on Pinterest. It is all self selecting. Do you think your neighbor or cousin will post a picture of their kid having a tantrum at their party? No, but does that mean that it didn’t happen? The cake may look beautiful, but they served the same heat and serve snacks from Costco that you did. We have lost ourselves in technology and the stress is killing us. I look at the five items on the practical guide above and am pleased to see that I took advantage of all 5 this weekend. What a Happy Mother’s Day it was afterall!

    • Good work!

      Isn’t it amazing the comfort that some people find in being constantly connected? Yet, maintaining a social media profile can be so exhausting! Taking a break to disconnect is good on a variety of levels.

      For good practice, my friends and I vow to not look at our phones when we go out to lunch or dinner. Even if it is forced, it is relaxing to take a break from emails, photos, status and tweets.

  2. Sarah Corney says:

    Well done for managing to switch off last weekend! I sometimes enjoy being in a place where I get no phone reception (on the underground in London or in the countryside where my parents live) so I can get away from social media and communication for a while. Not for too long though. I’m so conditioned now that it would be difficult to be offline for longer than a day I think!

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