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Social Media Anxiety

05/01/2011

I’ve dealt with anxiety since I was a teenager.  Debilitating panic attacks were common until I was 20 years old.  With the help of a wonderful counselor and psychiatrist I learned new coping skills and adjusted my medications.  It’s not uncommon for a person with Bipolar Disorder to have anxiety.

Today I cope fairly well.  I get anxious in new situations, like meeting the mother-in-law or high stress work events or blogger meet-ups…nothing more than normal.

The area I struggle most is social media anxiety.  I am anxious and awkward in real life…why would I want to be the same on the internet? I avoided social media until my friends pestered me enough and now I’m a Social Media Believer.

Thanks to some wonderful friends, I’m fully addicted to social media.  With this addiction comes a whole new set of anxieties.

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I admit to frantically checking Facebook, Twitter, Message Boards, Blogs and blog comments to see if there’s something new.  I’m afraid to turn off or tune out for fear of missing something.  Heather and I were out to dinner when the Marie Claire debacle went down.  I felt so out of the loop – although dinner was fabulous and I wouldn’t trade the company for the world. Open-mouthed smile

I hate “Mark All As Read” for the same reason.  I only subscribe to blogs I love to build friendships and stay in contact.  My Google Reader has to be at zero before bed so I can relax.  Neurotic? Yes…but it’s a small comfort after a long day.  When I don’t read, I’m lost.

I tried to “mark all as read” once and only once.  After a long work trip one of my favorite bloggers had a lot of posts to read so I clicked that magic button.  Guess what? In those “read” post I missed that she bought a house!  I had to read all the posts to find what I had missed. Talk about anxiety!

The worst is twitter anxiety.  Is it possible to tweet too much or too little?  Are others interested in me and my life or do I need“something to say” ?  If I tweet and not a peep tweet is uttered in response did everyone else think it was dumb?  Do I spend too much time online to see what’s being said only to suck time away from real life?

Social media brings such wonderful connections and helps me to stay in contact with friends both near and far.  I even made new friends and blends.  I live in the boonies and work strange hours so this is a big perk.

I don’t have a lot of answers to this problem of Social Media Anxiety.  Here are a few guidelines I’ve set for myself and try to live within.  Perhaps they can help you too.

  • Set a bed time and keep it. My Google Reader does not need to be at zero.  The posts will be there tomorrow.  If I need to, I can read them later.
  • Use Online-Stopwatch. I love this tool and am indebted to Caitlin for mentioning it.  I set the timer for 30 minutes or an hour.  I read or talk until the buzzer, then shut the darn computer and go enjoy life.  If I get anxious I remember “they’ll be there later.”
  • Practice Skimming. That trick from high school English works great for post reading.  You don’t need to read every word, every time.  Skim through the post to see if you want to read more later.  Then mark it as a favorite to go back.
  • Use Twitter Wisely. If you spend every waking moment on twitter (or Facebook or any social media tool) you miss the purpose.  It’s about being social.  Focus on building relationships with others.  You may not talk to everyone but you can build strong relationships that turn into real life friends.
  • Use Google Reader into categories. This trick saved my sanity.  All the blogs in my reader are divided into categories based on how I read them.  On my busiest days I can choose the blogs that are most important for that day and try to Mark [the others] as Read.   greaderI’m in control of what I read for the day and not my anxiety.

These are tricks I’m trying and they may not always work.

The anxiety isn’t going to go away if we sit around and do nothing…so why not try?

Do you get anxious with social media?

**Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for the Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast: Vegetarian Cookbook and Kitchen Aid Silicone Spatula.  Entries close Friday 7 January 2011 at Midnight.**

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. 05/01/2011 9:24 AM

    I struggle with anxiety as well! And because I deal with so much anxiety, it’s very easy to turn something that ought to be enjoyed (social media) into something that is a “to-do” or a simple stressor.

    Thanks for the tips — my Google Reader is in deep need of categorization, I just didn’t know it until I read this post! 🙂

    • 05/01/2011 9:38 AM

      So glad I could help. Anxiety turns enjoyable things into anxiety producing things so quickly. I hope this helps.

  2. 05/01/2011 10:20 AM

    I’m so with you! It’s so easy to sit at the computer and read blogs and Twitter and Facebook all.day.long. I’ve got my Google reader set up like yours. My problem comes too when I start reading new blogs, I just want to subscribe to everything. That unread number in my Reader tab really bugs me. Right now it’s 34, but I’ve added 2 blogs this morning already (including you)! I just want to know everything that’s going on 🙂

  3. Sarah permalink
    05/01/2011 11:33 AM

    wow, this is the first time i’ve been to your blog, but this post really does say it all. i JUST started my first blog and i’ve been struggling with a lot of these issues that you mention – and i don’t usually suffer with much anxiety. thanks for writing this!

  4. 05/01/2011 2:42 PM

    I agree with you about the mark all as read… even if I am busy and cannot get to a post for a day or two, I STILL want to read it! I’ll still comment too, even days later. 😀

    • 05/01/2011 3:10 PM

      I Agree. As a blogger it is nice to see a comment a few days later too. You know people are still interested in what you are saying. 🙂

  5. 05/01/2011 5:09 PM

    Perfect timing! I was so caught up on vacation, but now work is back in full swing and I am tired at night!

    I need to figure out and set up Google Reader . . . is there an iPhone App for that?

    • 05/01/2011 5:18 PM

      I am smart phone illiterate…but I’m sure there is an app for that. There is an app for anything.

  6. 05/01/2011 9:12 PM

    So, it turns out the that regular Google App includes a button for Google Reader! I am getting all organized now. 😉

  7. 06/01/2011 7:15 AM

    I LOVE THIS
    and would looove to run it (rerun) some day as a guest post.

  8. 06/01/2011 6:18 PM

    Great post! I know I can get a little to caught up in it. I lovingly refer to it as my “social media OCD”. I’m constantly on my iphone checking emails, tweets etc. I decided yesterday I was going to go back to using an online timer and this post solidifies it!

    • 06/01/2011 8:57 PM

      Thanks Jess. Even since writing it I’ve been able to relax my “need” to always be online.

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