Ever felt jealousy or discontentment due to the seemingly higher standards or jet-set lifestyle of other people on social media? You are probably suffering from Social Media Anxiety Disorder (SMAD), a condition described by the Research and Development Unit of Yudala – Nigeria’s pioneer online and offline e-commerce outfit – as one afflicting a growing number of young adults. If you are on social media in any capacity, then you probably must have experienced SMAD, especially after being exposed to what other persons in your social network are up to.
According to Yudala, social media anxiety disorder is related to social anxiety, a mental illness which occurs when social media interferes with the mental and physical health of a person, causing one to feel inadequate, jealous, incompetent and unsatisfied. Admittedly, seeing a certain standard on social media can make anyone anxious. This feeling is referred to as social media anxiety.
Social media has grown in importance and today, plays a greater role in our daily lives. Indeed, the majority of people rely on their social media networks for a number of things including lifestyle habits, trends and social validation. Unfortunately, we are in a world where everybody tries to put their best image forward online and, as humans, we tend to compare ourselves to the sometimes make-believe representation of others.
While social media is a useful way of connecting with people and a remarkable way of bridging the gap between loneliness and companionship with just a click; it is important to exercise caution.
All that glitters is not gold. This age-long saying holds true especially on social media where a lot of people are guilty of excess show of materialism and flaunting fake lifestyles or standards, leaving the lead to feelings of loneliness, social anxiety and depression.
Yudala shares tips on how to cope with social media anxiety:
1.Admit the problem: Social Media Anxiety Disorder can be difficult to treat, considering the emphasis on social media networking as a model of success, especially in business. The first step in treating social media anxiety is to identify the problem, admit it, understand it and try to solve it. Be honest about your social media usage and manage what you put on social media; avoid putting self-sabotaging comments of yourself in the hope of getting positive response to build your self-esteem.
2.Stop comparing yourself: Constant visits to social media platforms can make you feel like you haven’t accomplished a lot especially when you see the make-believe lifestyle of your social network. Humans are insatiable and comparing yourself is inevitable but always try to do you as opposed to studying others. The most important thing is to look back on your journey and compare with your current state; this will make you feel good about how far you’ve come because there will always be someone out there who is better than you.
3.Socialize more in real life: Nowadays, people are so addicted to social media that they focus more on holding their phones than talking and sharing their thoughts in person. But when your social media friends aren’t as responsive as normal, you may become anxious and start to feel lonely and that’s when social media anxiety sets in. It is important to strengthen your real-life relationships because your social media friends won’t be there to make lemonades for you when life hands you lemons.
4.Take a break: It is okay to take a social media break especially when you realize you are battling social media anxiety. Often, it is advisable to disengage from your social media platforms. Setting a specific social media time limit for yourself daily or weekly can be very helpful. By doing this, you can then gradually shut off from it completely until you feel comfortable. While this may not be easy initially because of the attachment you may have, you will find an alternative way to keep yourself occupied over time.
5.Embrace Some Alone-Time: Having a quiet and relaxing time by yourself doesn’t mean you’re a loner or a sad person. Being lonely is different from wanting to be alone which can actually be quite healthy. Going for a walk and being by yourself sometimes, with no distraction from your mobile phone or social media, actually gives you the chance to clear your mind, focus and think more clearly.
6.Focus on your Passion: We all know social media can be distracting. What starts as a check in on Facebook or Instagram can all of a sudden turn to a 2- 3-hour waste of time. Instead of that, you can develop your hobbies. Find something you are really passionate about and focus on them, rather than spending time on social media and thinking someone else is doing better than you. This may even help give you a sense of direction and fulfillment.