March 14, 2019   

Why Social Media Is Anxiety-Inducing

Yesterday, both Facebook and Instagram suffered the biggest outage in their history. I was wondering what was happening to those who say they are addicted to social media. Were they shaking or panicking? I suspect not.

What is unique about yesterday’s outage is that nobody could use it. That is different from you alone abstaining from social media. The problem with the latter is that you become anxious about what is going on without you, what people are saying about you, what you are missing out, who is trying to communicate with you, etc.. Since nobody could use Facebook and Instagram yesterday, there was no need to worry about those things.

In a way, this is the idea behind weekends. It is not necessary that we all take Saturdays and Sundays off. We could agree to take 2 days off every week but give everyone the choice of which 2 days. But imagine if this were the case. You won’t be able to relax because you would be anxious about what is happening on your days off. The stock market would be trading without you. Some potential customers might be trying to contact you. Important decisions might be being made at work without you. Etc.. Part of what makes social media addictive and stress-inducing for many people is that it never stops. There are no weekends or holidays. Out of fear, they feel compelled against their wish or will to participate.

There are now therapists who specialize in helping them unplug from social media but it would be challenging as long as all their friends continue using it. An ideal solution for them would be the concept of social media weekend where all the social media platforms shut down for 2 days every week. If this were possible, I would think that even those who feel addicted to social media would find the time off enjoyable.