Social Media Envy & Online Anxiety

This year I have been going through a mindful change, I decide to do my best to become more aware of life and what is going on around me and inside my head. As some of you may know I have suffered a bit this year with anxiety and it has been difficult to deal with, especially around stressful times and emotional times. I really wanted to write a honest blog about my feelings towards social media and I have forced myself to really take a look at what is going on inside my head and my heart and I discovered something that I am sure a lot of people can relate to. Loneliness and online envy.

You might be thinking “what? online envy?” let me explain.

Imagine you have been having what you assume to be a good day, maybe not even a good day, maybe just a decent day with no major hiccups. Then you log into your favorite social networking account to see that everyone is having the best damn time of their lives, travelling to exotic countries, hanging out with armies of friends, swinging from the ceilings of the hottest night club in town and having the best damn time ever it seems. All of a sudden your day seems like a total pile of shit, a sad existence, you feel like billy no mates and you may as well have not even bothered to get out of bed at all seems. You feel terrible and start to analyze your entire life and all of a sudden you don’t feel so good.  In reality, it only takes one beautifully filtered picture of a gorgeous friend to make you feel like quasimodo.

It can be really depressing, not to mention a super sonic hit to the ego. I don’t know about you but this happens to me a lot and as a self admitted over thinker, it can be really disheartening to log into a social networking account. It can cause me some panic and dread. I was chatting to a friend recently and I said “I don’t really like logging into facebook, it makes me feel anxious.” My friend replied with a raised eyebrow “Why!?” I explained and it didn’t seem to register with my friend the same as it did with me and I thought to myself, am I the only one who feels this way? Maybe my friend is just more secure then I am or, maybe they don’t follow enough beautiful internet celeb’s online!

Either way, I understood that this is something that needs to be discussed. Is online envy something that effects everyone at some point? And is it effecting how we live our lives?

I have a very close friend who doesn’t use facebook for this very reason and I admire her for that. Not having a facebook account these days is regarded as big a crime as not watching Breaking Bad is. IT IS INTERNET BLASPHEMY ALMOST! We live in the age of information technology, people can develop addictions to technology as easily as an addiction to cigarettes or drugs. There are technology addiction disorders such as Nomophobia, which is mobile phone addiction and Problematic Internet Use. It’s kinda scary and it makes me wonder what we are putting our poor psyche’s through on a daily basis when using the internet.

If you meet some one on a night out or at a social occasion, instead of asking for your mobile number now day’s most people will ask “Do you have facebook?” and what I have been thinking about is WHY? And I think I know the answer, we are an age obsessed with knowledge, we are more educated today than we ever where and we must know what is going on at all times and if we don’t we feel left out. Don’t get me wrong I am no stranger to this myself, I rather enjoy social networking, blogging and receiving information as fast as it is put out there. I usually know major news stories before my parents do because I check twitter constantly.

But there is a major down side, the thing that get’s me about social networking is that our lives are edited into the best fractions of their existence. The “best of” if you will. Honestly, I think social networking as made me paranoid and vain in some regards, if some one takes a picture of me and I don’t like it, a massive feeling of anxiety comes over me like a hurricane ready to hit, I don’t feel at ease until they delete it so I know that picture won’t pop up on social media to be seen by all online. What’s funny is, I should be used to it by now! I have been uploading online since the days of Myspace (yeah i’m old) and really, it should be just dirt off my shoulder. When you really think about it, there are companies out there that have taken advantage of these types of insecurities we have in today’s beauty obsessed world and have made apps based on them, photo editing apps where you can photo shop your blemishes while you sit on the bus, filters that make everything look more dream like, basically we give ourselves digital face lifts on our smartphones almost daily! Heck the word selfie has even made it into the dictionary!

The burning question on my mind is why do I care? Hell, why does anyone care! Why do we even feel the NEED to share our information with people and edit it before we release it into cyber space. I honestly think it is just a sign of the changing times. My Grandmother for example can not even fathom the idea of facebook and why people are so eager to share information about their daily lives so willingly. When it comes down to it, I really believe that seeing perfectly cropped and edited instagram pictures and epic statuses about the night before can cause us to feel a little envious at times, and naturally so. It is not strange or unusual to feel this way and I sometimes have to remind myself that not everyone’s lives are so amazingly awesome 100% of the time and that the internet is full of optical illusions of illustrious lives and perfected camera phone photography!

Social networking usually only shares the half truth version of our lives, which really isn’t so bad in a sense, it might mean we still have some modesty left in us I guess! But it can instill the idea that everything is all sunshine in rainbows in everyone’s lives but your own, but at the end of the day that is no where near the full truth at all. I think we should take the time to tune out the outside world for at least a short while every day, I know we can not really avoid technology living in this era but we can at least take a few moments to get back to basics and take care of ourselves, chill out and relax our brains and let our egos go and enjoy the simple things in life.

Remember that as humans we are flawed but isn’t it our unique attributes that make us who we are? If only we could see life through a valencia filter but for now I am just happy when there is actually sunshine in Ireland!

Ellie xox

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