Social Anxiety on Social Media


#1

Hello,
I find that my anxiety revolving around social media is one of the hardest things for me to overcome as I feel that I am in the spotlight on sites like Facebook. I have avoided making posts on the site for years but have been tagged in various photos with friends and peers. I now always second guess myself every time I want to make a post of something I find on the internet fearing that I would be judged with people wondering why I am making a post when I practically never do so. I fear not getting many likes or comments and people consequently thinking I don’t know many people. I fear losing the respect of some people. Its an exaggerated and irrational fear. It just seems so hard to overcome. It feels like I have been trapped for awhile and am afraid to come out fearing that I would be in the spotlight. I also fear getting Instagram even though the majority of my friends have it. I fear that I wont have many followers and wont have many pictures to post. I am holding back from getting it until I start having a much more socially active life where I have many pictures to post with friends. I however feel that I am missing out on the social media activities going around me, with friends posting pictures of trips, grad photos along with others.


#2

I have instagram and Facebook and I have very few pics.Just because u use instagram that doesn’t mean that u need to post a lot of pics.People won’t think negatively of u just bcs u have few followers or likes . u may even be surprised to see u may get more likes than u think. and besides who cares what they think, if they think like that than they are negative people and u don’t need people like that in your life.


#3

I deleted a lot of my social media and honestly, i’m hands down SO MUCH HAPPIER. Social media causes me a lot of anxiety and I honestly think it’s more trouble than it’s worth. I’m a big texter, so if I want to share something with friends I usually just text and I also find that people who want to be in your life will text you or call you or email.


#4

I have exactly the same fears, and have never considered myself to have SA. ( I am here for my daughter.) Perhaps I do have a touch of SA but it has not kept me from having a normal life. What I’m saying is that I don’t think you should feel abnormal because of this fear. I bet it’s more common than you think. I do have Facebook but I limit my posts and tell myself it doesn’t matter. And yes, I do sometimes get more likes than I expect. :slight_smile:


#6

Hi,

You are totally not alone with fearing social media - I think it’s a problem for many people, even without S.A.! I personally found Facebook too difficult to handle - the total lack of control over privacy being one of many reasons…I’ve actually deactivated my account - it was hard at first but people I really care about have been in touch and actually I’ve found my interaction with friends feels much more meaningful. I decided to start a photography/writing blog so that I wasn’t totally losing touch with the idea, and it’s great as I’ve met lots of people who have things in common with me, but it doesn’t feel so invasive. Some of my friends visit it too. I do find the worry about posts and what people think of them still bothers me, but somehow not as much as I know I have more control over it… I actually have found it a useful tool in observing my reactions to posting publicly and worries about others perceptions of me. So anyway, just to say don’t be too hard on yourself, maybe try a few other things and see how you get on? I really do feel happier without Facebook!


#7

The feeling of having gotten Instagram I feel is really anxiety causing. I don’t have an active and colorful social life to be portraying on Instagram and that’s causing me a lot of shame and inhibition. I have never put up a Facebook photo besides my own profile pic, having linked Facebook to the intense anxiety I had around people a while back at a private high school that I had attended for one year. The shame that I had avoided it, only being tagged in people’s/friends pictures makes me feel very ashamed and anxious to come out of my shell and start posting or to even change my profile pic. I fear that I hid from putting myself out there and don’t know how others would react by seeing my second profile pic put up after 4 years. I feel like it would expose my inhibition for having taken this long or would expose my insecurities, especially after getting Instagram only recently with others having had it for 3 years or so.

I find social anxiety around social media is another beast that should be tackled and talked about considering that it is a new thing and is known to cause anxiety around others.


#8

Hi guys I was wondering if anyone has some strategies to combat this issue. I find that it really is crippling me. I am way too insecure to post a new profile picture and to upload a cover photo as I never done so up until now. People are also adding me on Facebook and my anxiety just intensifies when that happens as I feel like more people are finding out about my social life through Facebook.


#9

Hi THG, i suggest keeping the fb activity limited to having a complete profile and a latest pic, use fb to keep a track of whats going on in your friends lives as its very useful against the isolation, when you dont interact with friends on fb, they will think you dont spend a lot of time on fb, thats it.

Social media in reality is a virtual version of our social life and our whole life in general, so according to my observation the degree of sa we feel in the real world corresponds equally with our virtual world, we can not be less social in real society and more confident in the virtual society just as we are no more or less confident on the phone vis a vis our face to face interaction, hence the solution to this problem is not different than the solution to osa!


#10

Thanks for the reply DWI. The issue is I don’t feel as anxious in public around friends as I do on Facebook. It for some reason is magnified to the extreme on Facebook. I find that every time someone new ads me, it increases my anxiety because I link Facebook to the people from my negative past at a private highschool where I had full blown SA and had no idea what it was. I have always steered away from Facebook because it always triggered something that reminded me of a traumatizing time. The issue is that I have never uploaded anything other than a profile pic 5 years before. I am so embarrassed by not having uploaded any pics on Facebook and I feel like if I did it now it would expose me and the fact that I’m coming out of my shell on Facebook. It also makes it extremely difficult given the fact that nearly everyone I have come in contact with in my life is a Facebook friend. I also fear that if I finally upload a cover photo and profile pic I would be judged and also might not get many likes as I have his from it for a long time.

One thing that you said that seems refreshing is the fact that you think all it would show is that I’m not on Facebook often. Do you think it would reveal anything about my social life. Because that is what I really am insecure about. I’m 23 and never really had the traditional social life that others had which is a given since I have social anxiety. I thereby always thought I wouldnt have many photos to upload onto Facebook.


#11

[quote=“THG, post:10, topic:1399”]
Do you think it would reveal anything about my social life. Because that is what I really am insecure about.
[/quote] the only way to reveal sa to someone is by directly telling them, (its easier thought than done, i know many people who have struggled years to explain sa to others and have failed) most people are so dissolved in their lives that they dont have the time or energy to judge other people, and when it comes to sa it is the most difficult otherwise we wont need trained psychologists to diagnose sa, if every person were a walking talking detector of sa like our anxious mind tells us, it will mean that everyone is a psychologist and so perfect that he can detect our sa in just one encounter. The truth is even experienced psychologists take a few sessions before judging a patients sa, so relax, the only important thing is that u need to prioritize the process of osa and like i said the more confident one is in real life equally relaxed he will be in virtual life.

While one is in the process of osa its better to have a proper perspective about social media, its very important otherwise it can become one more source of botheration and will only be a hindrance for osa.

Most people who are living their social life to the full use social media for their advantage, meaning, for them fb is a medium to do certain things that they cant do in the real life, for example they can use fb to mend a broken relationship, or if someone who is bored with his present social circle will try to find new friends through fb, or use fb to find girls or boys, every persons agenda is different and it is determined by their personality. So the first question is what kind of a person one is and that will determind what fb means for him and what he can do or not do on fb.

[quote=“THG, post:10, topic:1399”]
I’m 23 and never really had the traditional social life that others had which is a given since I have social anxiety. I thereby always thought I wouldnt have many photos to upload onto Facebook.
[/quote] I know a lot of people who never change their pic, it doesnt matter, sometimes it can be a good thing, it will give the impression that the person is a rather stable person. Same is true for fb wall, there are some people whose wall is so rich that you can see their whole life on it, even the lives of his relatives while there are some whose wall is full of all sort of crap from ads to amateur videos from unknown parts of the world, the point is that it all doesnt matter what matters it the progress of osa.

In light of the above i suggest u keep a complete profile, like some pages that u really like, fill your sports, interests, etc and dont take sm more seriously than necessary, even if u make a mistake no matter what on sm, there are a billion ways to live out of that and use it as a training ground to enhance your confidence. I personally dont agree with the idea of having a rich virtual life along with an anxious life expecting that it will bring some good, unfortunately it will not, its logically impossible, the real social life is prior to all other versions of the life!
Hope this is helpful.


#12

Hi dwi,
I agree with what you are saying. That is why I have never posted on Facebook, it was because I have never had an active social life and never had a group of friends since high school as I moved to three schools and battled social anxiety during that time. For the past 5 years during University, I avoided Facebook as I was spending most of my free time alone and was trying to treat my social anxiety. The thing is I am a natural social person and had a group of university friends. We just never hung out often during the summer time. I therefore acted like a ghost on social media. I was waiting until I was firmly secure with my social life, with really close friends that I text often with to hang out. That is why I am immensely insecure about Facebook as it is a reflection of my past and it shows how non exciting my social life was. I also feel deeply depressed when more and more of the people who I meet add me. I fear they would judge me for the lack of pictures on my profile. I am just so afraid to come out of my shell on Facebook and start posting pictures as I feel it would expose me and the fact that I finally uploaded a new profile picture along with a cover photo after 5 years when it is long overdue.


#13

Have you tried the book Overcoming Social Anxiety? The Kindle version is only $9.99 on Amazon. The book is no match for the full therapy program, but there are a lot of parts of it which are appropriate to your situation, including Accepting Myself As I Am Right Now (page 81) and The Social Anxiety “Automatic” Cycle (page 127).

I assume you recognize that it’s not healthy to feel deeply depressed when people add you to Facebook, or to fear that people will judge you for the lack of pictures on your profile, or to be afraid to come out of your shell because you feel it would expose the fact that you are coming out of your shell.


#14

Yeah I have done the program about a year ago for a full year and have attended the international behavioral group in the summer after. I however find my problem to be the fact that I am so insecure about my social life. I find it embarrassing that I hang out with friends once a while as opposed to once a week or so. I have been insecure of not having really close friends like that my whole life. I agree a major step is to just accept where I am right now. I however feel that by finally uploading a new profile pic it would reveal that I don’t open up much about my life and that after many years I am finally doing so. I also fear people tying the fact that I wasn’t on Facebook as often to the fact that I am insecure about my social life.


#15

If it was revealed that you used to not open up much about your life and that after many years you are finally doing so, would that be a bad thing?

You used to not open up much about your life. After many years you are finally doing so. That’s a good thing, right? Lots of people come out of their shells at some point in their life. If your friends realize that you’ve decided to change your life and become a better person, isn’t that a good thing?

It’s up to you, I guess. Maybe you don’t think opening up much about your life is a good thing. In fact, sometimes opening up too much about your life is a bad thing. Posting pictures on Facebook of yourself getting drunk or doing drugs or misbehaving in some way is probably not a good idea. Is it a big deal? Maybe not, especially if you delete it before putting in that job application or whatever. On the other hand, your fears seem to have gone beyond the rational and into the realm of ANTs. But it’s up to you to decide whether or not you agree with that.


#16

I agree. It just seems immensely challenging for like everyone on your Facebook profile to find out or to realize.


#17

Either way, whether you decide to participate on Facebook or not, don’t sweat it. Facebook definitely isn’t a crucial part of being a socially healthy person.


#18

Hi Kittycath,
I am also contemplating getting rid of my account because of the unnecessary anxiety it is causing me. Just wanted to a get a take on how it was for you initially to deactivate your account. Did it feel like you were losing touch from people even more and were disengaging from them. I have Instagram and I feel that by getting rid of my Facebook account and sticking to Instagram it would be like a fresh start for me.


#19

Hi thirtyeight,
Thanks for the help. Yeah I am staring to question whether I’d end up happier without Facebook and sticking to other the social media accounts I do have. I just find Facebook too hard as I feel it is linked to my anxious negative past. I feel that by getting rid of it it may serve as a fresh start. I just have to get over the fact that I will be losing touch with many aquiantances/friends by deleting it.


#20

Hi THG

Facebook truly is more personal compared to twitter and some other social sites, the whole profile and pages revolves around the “self” of the person. FB is more personal and that can sometimes make the best of us uncomfortable. if you are considering deleting fb then you will have to make a calculated decision striking a balance between the loss of friends vs. the removal of one source of anxiety. Also know that it will be more difficult if you choose to resume fb in the future, anxiety or not. The best way for you to make a decision is by doing a COST-BENEFIT analysis( a cbt technique), if the perceived benefits outweigh the cost you can delete fb at the same time being aware that you have consciously chosen to sacrifice something to gain something, and once the anxiety is at bay you can do whatever you want.

this will never work, ANTS about it will keep haunting you. Look at both sides of the coin, dont tell yourself that you have shutdown fb cos it was overwhelming, instead tell yourself that as you were not ready for it yet you have decided to pause it so that you can address the root of all the problems, this logic will make you feel more confident otherwise ANTS such as "i cant even fb, what a wreck i am “will keep haunting you and you may end up loosing both fb and the opportunity”

This will not work, you will always have ANTS about shutting down fb and the sense of inadequacy ants create, but this problem can be solved by the above approach.

Best of luck! and read my latest poem dedicated to the entire SAI community below,


#21

Great post, dwi. One thing i would say to both of you is that quitting Facebook doesn’t mean that you have to lose touch with anybody. Everyone who has a Facebook account also has an email address, among other ways to keep in touch. I bet all or almost all of them have phones, too.

By the way, if it matters, personally, I have a Facebook account.