Barber: Social Media is Useful for Social Anxiety

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By Shaelyn Barber

Social media gets a lot of bashing — what with us millennials constantly glued to our phones. Do we pay attention to anything else? Do we even talk to people, or just tag them in endless memes? Do we hang out together, or simply sit in the same room on our phones? And let’s not even start on Tinder…

To be fair, there is a lot that’s wrong with social media. It can be a huge waste of time, distracting from schoolwork and other tasks. I’ll admit that I’m guilty of spending unnecessary amounts of time on Twitter and posting too many videos of my roommate’s cat. Social media can also be a deceptive fantasy. People brag about their amazing lives and keep all the bad parts locked away inside, so that all you can see is perfection. Many begin to compare themselves to these “perfect” images and judge their own lives as not being lived up to what they could be. Not only that, but people get harsh on the Internet. They say cruel things while hiding behind a computer screen.

I see your point about social media. It can cause a lot of problems. But, there are some things you’re missing with your critique.

Social media is extremely beneficial for people who have social anxiety. Living with social anxiety is difficult. On a good day, you can get out and talk to people, hang out with friends and get some healthy social interaction. On a bad day, it can be hard to go outside or even talk to close friends. You can be left feeling nervous, insecure or even experience a panic attack.

Most people do need some form of social contact to stay healthy, but that can be hard to do when you have social anxiety. Social media allows those with social anxiety to have some form of social interaction on a bad day or a bad week (or even longer). Even when you don’t feel able to socialize with others, you can keep up with what the people you care about are doing and interact with them from a space where you feel safe.

It’s very important to look after your mental health. If you are feeling overwhelmed, or like you need a break, take some time alone to recuperate. There is nothing wrong with taking a little time off, and I promise you won’t be missing out on that much if you take a night in. Find something relaxing, like music, or video games or another hobby. And, if you feel so inclined, indulge yourself in Facebook, or Instagram or Twitter. Post those pictures of your dog. Take a selfie with a Snapchat flower crown because even if you’re staying in, people deserve to know how fabulous you look.

If it’s secluding you from the world, that is valid. If it’s Insta-stalking your crush, that’s a-okay. If it’s skyping friends from a comfortable, safe space, that’s just as important. Take care of yourself in whatever way works for you.

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