Living in the age of social networking leads to being constantly bombarded by more information that your brain can process. The raging debate around whether our social media interactions add to our stress levels is not at all misplaced. Our constant reliance on social media has made way for invariable distractions and interruptions – I have checked my Facebook wall thrice as I write this – that compromise our productivity, besides making the baggage of existence heavier than ever before.
It is unrealistic to completely cut someone out of your life or get over unpleasant associations when friends, foes, and frenemies are just a click away. Then there are distant relatives, annoying colleagues, long lost friends, old school and college mates screaming for your attention with their overtly personal posts. As if you didn’t have enough to worry about on your own that you now have to feel saddened by the death of your friend’s neighbor’s aunt’s pet. But such is life, dearies, the beloved social media that we cannot imagine our lives without has been spiking up our stress levels.
Statistics from a recent survey carried out in the US revealed that active social media users were at least 14 percent more likely to experience some form of stress as compared to non-users. Let us take a look at some everyday social media indulgence that can lead to higher stress levels:
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Putting Your Best Foot Forward
Social media is a pretty phony space that way because most people use it to shout from the rooftops how perfect their life is – the perfect selfie, the most romantic evening, the adorable kids, the Europe vacation and so on. Naturally, you feel compelled to keep and match your friends’ picture-perfect posts with those of your own. This need to curate and measure one’s persona so constantly on social media stresses you out. A study has revealed that people who to focus on improving their image through social media posts are 4.5 times more likely to be in a state of perpetual stress.
Keeping Up with the Trends
Social media has become an important agenda setter. A user’s choice of food, music, movies, fashion trends and even buying behavior is largely determined by the social media trends. However, it is not always possible to stay updated with all the latest trends. A person with a fragile sense of self-esteem may experience unwarranted stress because of feeling of inadequacy generated by not being able to keep up with these hot trends. The same study brought to fore a co-relation between stress and buying behavior – users who relied heavily on social media sites for making purchases were 45 percent more stressed than users who didn’t use social media for this purpose.
Blast from the Past
You log in to your Facebook account and find a friend request from an ex waiting to greet you. Whether it is the guy you still can’t get over or the woman whose face you can no longer stand, such unpleasant incidents are definitely going to put you off. If something like this doesn’t send your stress levels shooting up, what will! A total of 83 percent of users quizzed during the survey said they felt unsettled and stressed in the face of such unpleasant encounters on social media.
Life Up For Scrutiny
Every moment of your life just a smartphone-click away from being captured forever and put up for public scrutiny on social media platforms. None of your social media posts are 100 percent secure from cyber theft and misuse. And then there is the constant risk of accidentally uploading extremely personal content from your smartphone. Before you even know it, your post can go viral. There is also the pressure of Facebook profile reviews carried out by potential employers as part of the hiring process.
With every conceivable aspect of your life out there in the public domain, it is only natural to experience high level of stress and anxiety. Users strongly believe that popular social networking sites do not do enough to protect their privacy, with a whopping 83 percent casting aspersions on the privacy policies of social networking sites, particularly Facebook.
Sense of Being Perpetually Plugged In
At least 51 percent of social media users admit to being addicted to social media. You know the feeling – you are racing against a deadline for an important office assignment and suddenly your receive a chat notification. You feel compelled to check your phone and almost obligated to reply. You try hard to concentrate on work but the phone won’t stop beeping, and somewhere a nerve is in your brain is preparing to explode. This sense of being perpetually plugged-in or connected is a key stress-driver. Of this 51 percent, 76 percent reported being somewhat stressed due to this compulsive use of social media platforms.
There is no denying the benefits of social media in our lives, but it does not come without its price. To keep your sanity intact, it is a good idea to take a social sabbatical every once in a while, even if it just for a day. Or a couple of hours.