Social Media and Anxiety
Somedays I love the internet. It makes me laugh my butt off, helps me realize that all millenials are having knee pain now and it’s not just me, and the endless amount of dog videos literally makes my heart feel warm and fuzzy. I mean seriously, the “Cheese Tax” song just dropped and I cannot thank the creators enough for its ridiculousness.
Yet some days I wake up and it immediately gives me massive amounts of anxiety. Every possible thing seems to offend someone. People are trolling and canceling each other left and right, without any point of reference or attempt at understanding. The news loves to inundate us with trauma- literal trauma- just to get a click.
Today is one of those days for me.
Yesterday I spent too much time online, but I felt all the positive feelings. I was recording in my own IG stories, connecting with strangers in my DMs, and I even made a new Reel (something that happens once every few months). After a long day at work, I even felt like recording a quick podcast episode. Who even am I?
It felt good and productive and even fun.
Not today. Today feels like everyone is angry at everyone and it’s giving me major High School vibes- the bullying, the cool kids running things and being worshiped, and me just wanting out. It literally feels so similar to HS.
I know I’m not alone in this. I know it’s a phenomenon our entire generation is experiencing, while having no rule book or guidelines to follow. So the question is, what even is a healthy boundary with Social Media and how do you know where to set it?
For me it looks like this: Paying attention to my anxiety and listening to its warning. I could do the work to trace back exactly where this anxiety is stemming from (because there’s always a source; an old wound) but that should probably be done with my therapist. Instead of seeing my anxiety as the problem, today I’m seeing the trigger as the issue.
I know that, for me, reading other people’s arguments stirs up feelings of “conflict is bad- someone’s going to get hurt!” My logical self knows this isn’t necessarily true and that I’m in no danger, but my emotional brain (which is hardwired to protect me) just doesn’t feel comfortable with it today. The feeling of everyone being mad at each other is just too painful and unsettling.
Until I can (or want to) process this fear on a deeper level, I can choose to just listen to my body. It’s screaming at me that Social Media doesn’t feel emotionally safe today. That could last a week, a day, a month, who knows. But I’m taking it one day at a time.
So I’m logging off.
It’s as simple as that. Take a break.
You may not have to jump to an extreme of deleting your accounts, although that may be necessary. Do what’s best for you.
It may require unfollowing particular accounts that stir up these issues. I’ve noticed that even some really great pages intentionally post controversial things just because the engagement it will get will help their algorithm. All attention is good attention, right?
Even if the majority of the posts are great/helpful/decent, if they are occasionally asking for a fight, it’s probably not a good account for me to follow, given my sensitivities.
I know this isn’t groundbreaking information or new advice, but it’s simply a reminder. You need time away from the perfection, keyboard warriors, trolls, and trauma images. Even if it’s not directed towards you, witnessing it can be exhausting to the system. It’s okay to admit that and take good care of yourself.
Tomorrow I’ll try again and if it doesn’t feel good, I’ll continue to listen to my gut feeling. Logging off is a reminder of how small my circle really is, and today, that’s a really, really good feeling.
Julie Hilton is a licensed therapist in Atlanta, who specializes in working with trauma, anxiety, and Self-Worth issues. If you are looking for a therapist and located in Georgia or Florida, reach out today for a free phone consultation! 678-329-9129