For generations, commentators have worried about the impact of technology on people’s stress levels. Telephones interrupted quiet times in homes while television focused around the advertising that enabled modern consumer culture and heightened people’s status anxieties. Inevitably, the focus is now on digital technology. There has been considerable commentary as of late about whether internet use in general and social media use in particular are related to higher levels of stress.
Based on several multi-year research models, the number of people using social media sites has nearly doubled since 2008 where it looks like 70% of adults online use Facebook and the other 30% is shared between Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.
Many of these same research studies are saying that moderate, more so than heavy internet and social media use do not seem to provide higher levels of stress. With that in mind though, there does seem to be an emotional gender gap between both men and women; in so much as women who are users of social media tend to be more empathetic and take a broad approach absorbing everything in their path while men tend to focus on smaller specific details and avoid any emotional connection.
This leads to women generally getting more stressed because of their emotional connection to content in social media posts as they seem to be more aware of stressful events in people’s lives, and as a result, were more likely to be stressed themselves. For women, stress seems to be contagious.
With that in mind, it seems like many employers are now looking to social media when doing background checks of potential employees. For some people this seems to be a potential avenue of stress possibly making or breaking a job depending on how you conduct yourself online.
Also, thanks to the abundance of personal details many of us share on social media sites, it seems we are making the job of identity fraudsters much easier increasing everyone’s stress levels. With the click of a few buttons, it is easy to bring up a whole host of information on users who believe they are simply sharing innocent information with friends. Remember to check and update your privacy settings to make sure your personal life is kept private.
If prying bosses and identity thieves weren’t enough to contend with, we now also have to deal with that embarrassing photo or video being broadcast for all to see. According to the study mentioned earlier one in four people deliberately post unflattering photos of their friends giving Facebook photos as a new source of stress and number one weight loss trigger!
And finally, whether or not your relationship breakup was one of the increasing numbers of those instigated by social media, when it all goes wrong in a relationship the availability of social media sites can make the whole thing so much complicated and stressful. According to research, 88 % of people use Facebook to follow their ex and 31 % post photos to deliberately try and make them jealous.
The first thing you should do is be selective about the people you follow. Be intentional about who gets your attention. Set better boundaries (literally – use those Facebook settings) and limit the information you absorb from people who complain constantly or make you feel worse.
Next would be limit what you read. A friend’s son is very ill? That’s heart-breaking and you can and should show compassion, but you don’t need to read every single update about his condition. Limit what you read so you can limit what you absorb.
Remember that emotions are contagious. Actively seek out connections with upbeat people. Soak in positive emotions. There are powerful benefits of being connected to inspiring, caring individuals. Social media can be a way to feel connected and calm. But it’s a little like being at a party – if you choose to spend your time hearing only sad stories from sad people, you’ll leave depressed and stressed.
Finally, taking a digital detox once and a while by turning off Twitter and forgetting about Facebook. Take in the view rather than tapping away at your phone. Meet with someone for a conversation rather than sending an email or text.
If a digital detox is difficult task, then including inspirational and motivational thinkers in your social media feeds like Tony Robbins, Dr. Wayne Dwyer, and Gretchen Rubin should help provide a positive start to your day.