Technology, social media and an anxious public


Photo credit: Briana Mcdaniel

With the modern world more connected than ever, social media, smart phones and the web are changing the way we interact with the world around us.

Subconsciously, everyone creates a sense of self, an idea of how we want to be perceived by the world. Social media and modern connectivity allow us to project that sense of self stronger than ever. According to a 2013 Huffington Post article, social media gives us, “very controlled safe circumstances” to interact in. Planning pictures, looking happy and showing the world how amazing and important our lives are.

This only becomes problematic when the majority of our interactions are in the context of the last thing we saw about an individual on social media. As stated in a 2017 article by Time, “Social media posts can also set unrealistic expectations and create feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem.”

Before long, our images of people become exaggerated, breeding uncomfortable and anxious interactions. Our heart rates rise as we feel paranoia and hysteria creeping up.

Yet, other people are not the only thing making us anxious. Erving Goffman’s Dramaturgical model for presenting the self becomes enhanced. “Cool” becomes determined by who can play the character they have created for themselves the most consistently.

In first-world countries, we live in a society that does not need to worry about base issues. Our interactions and sense of self take priority over our minds. Threatening that scares us to death.

Research also shows that social anxiety and depression lead to increased social media usage. Feeling insecure and nervous about face-to-face interactions causes us to run back to social media and alternate forms of communication, where expressing ourselves feels easier.

All people feel these emotions; they are just enhanced within modern society. Everyone has those days where the world just feels overwhelming. Next time you feel these sensations just relax and take a deep breath. These issues are virtually unavoidable in modern life, but being aware of them will give you a little more breathing room. Stay mindful, these emotions only control you if you let them.

Grant Schmieding can be reached at [email protected] or @ on Twitter.