Does Social Media Cause Social Anxiety?

Why Social Media Reminds Me of High School

We all remember the enormous amount of social anxiety we experienced in middle school and high school.  We were afraid of being excluded from everything and anything.  There is a party this weekend on the lake? I hope I’m invited… If I’m not invited I’ll probably die.  I’m 16 and I still haven’t had my first kiss! I’m probably going to die.  And do you remember how stressful the prom was?!  To be honest I don’t know how any of us ever made it to college and didn’t just explode from the mixture of heightened hormones and raging emotions.  While it is nice to laugh at those terrible/awesome/confusing times it is interesting to step back and look at the similarities that we can see from social anxiety that is bred through using social media.

NO Brandcuffs

In high school it was essential to know and be involved in all the latest gossip.  You didn’t know that Tammy is dating Kevin now? Loser.  In those times, news would happen fast and if you weren’t in the know you clearly weren’t worth talking to.  Imagine if you reported that news a day after it happened?  You are SO out of touch with the times.  Similarly once a piece of news hits Facebook or the Twitterverse you better be a part of it immediately or you are going to look slow… and no one wants to look slow.  This forces us to scan our twitter streams and RSS feeds obsessively, desperate to find and share information before it becomes old news.  Similarly, we are subject to be privy to a never ending list of digital acronyms and terminologies.  From KPI to brandcuffs, we are forced to maintain knowledge that can change on a weekly basis.


Every couple of weeks (days?) there seems to be a new social platform that promises to reshape how people connect.  Facebook and Twitter are no longer cool enough because everyone knows about them now.  This has caused social media junkies to jump ship and head over to Quora and the ever elusive Diaspora.  You could liken this to hipster kids in school who only like bands until they get popular.  “You JUST found out about Animal Collective?  Yeah I used to be into them like TWO years ago.”  This type of mentality is prevalent in the industry but for a fairly good reason.  If you get there first you are the cool kid on campus.  Get there a few months too late and its already old news. Want to be cool in school? Keep up on the latest gossip/fashion/music trends.  Want to be cool as an adult in social media?  Keep up on the latest news/gossip/meme/tech trends at all times.  This leaves us checking and rechecking all the information streams that flow our way at all times.  The interesting thing is that social media is supposed to better connect everyone to each other.  The next time you are at a party look around and note how many people are checking their social feeds instead of talking to real people.  What have we become?!

The social life

The rise of social media is one of the most important communication developments to have come from the Internet.  The way it connects people transcends physical and political borders and has made the flow of information nearly instantaneous.  However, it happens so quickly that we oftentimes find ourselves running to keep up with the times.  There is no doubt that this is a very exciting time to be a part of the industry. However, whether you are a blogger, a business owner or simply a social media addict, staying ahead or even just running along with the curve is very stressful.  So does social media breed social anxiety. In my life, yes. How does it affect yours?


Tags: , ,


  1. SuperPost Sunday - Weekly Roundup #32 | nittyGriddy - May 29, 2011

    […] Does Social Media Cause Social Anxiety? – by Patrick Kent, […]

Leave a Reply