Panic Life

Fighting Stigma and Living with an Anxiety Disorder

How Anxious People Use Social Media

I'm anxious and I have a Facebook account. Here's how that works.

I manage anxiety on a daily basis. In addition to being an inherently anxious person, I also do things most other human beings do, like spend time interacting with friends and family on Facebook. I've noticed that (being an anxious individual) I use social media differently than someone who doesn't deal with chronic anxiety.

For example, I've been told that I tend to "post a lot" on Facebook. Someone who doesn't have anxiety might log on to Facebook one to two times a day. I, on the other hand, check Facebook multiple times per day. I might be walking down the street and see a funny sign or a beautiful plant that I just need to photo of with my IPhone and share on social media, whether that be Facebook or Twitter. 

I suppose it's connected to impulsivity. I need to share whatever the content is right away or else I might forget and the really funny e-card will go unshared. This results in my Facebook wall having a lot of content on it. 

Another thing I am guilty of on Facebook is tagging people in posts. If I like you, and I know your personality, I want you to see this particular post because I feel that it's relevant to you. In my mind, if I don't tag you in a post you might miss it! It makes me anxious to think that you may not see (what I feel) is something that relates to you.

This is how I see things.

However, people looking at my Facebook profile do not see it this way. They perceive an individual who is "obsessively" posting on social media.

In reality, I am just behaving how I do in every day life...online. Sometimes impulsively, sometimes silly, and always myself. 

Next time you see a friend who posts a lot on social media, consider the fact that they might just be a little anxious and that's okay. We are who we are in real life and on the Internet. 

Sarah Fader is a mental illness advocate and mother of two living with
panic disorder in New York City.

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