Isn’t it interesting? If you are feeling overwhelmed when you spend time on Social Media – you are actually normal. A study done as early as 2013 showed an association between Social Anxiety & Depression and the growing emergence of Multi-tasking Media (Social Media). 2013? Someone identified an association way back then? In 2013 I became a third-time mum and I was grateful for the 24/7 support and reassurance online. When I was paranoid about why my baby was feeding AGAIN and how much my after-pains hurt, it was strangers similar experiences that helped me stay sane. It was something I didn’t have with my first baby, I didn’t even have an Internet connected phone in 2008. But that was just the beginning of this Social Media world.
Skip forward to 2019
This is particularly interesting for me at the moment as a new mum (again) who has become very intentional about reducing my use of Social Media, or “Multi-tasking Media”, due to signs of my mental health becoming affected. When I had my last baby in 2013, I didn’t use Social Media in the same way as I do now, it had no where near the functionality it has today. Recently I have chosen to move my screen time to a laptop instead of casually scrolling other peoples highlight reels. It’s NOT been easy. This habit, no, let’s be honest, this addiction to picking up my phone and pressing that blue and white button to “connect” with civilisation outside my children is real. I’ve had to be really ruthless and I’ve failed a lot of times. I haven’t been responding to messages instantly, and that has brought up some interesting feelings.
In all honesty, who manages to successfully remove themselves from Social Media without becoming a hermit?? Is anyone finding meeting other people, family/friends etc in real life now harder? When sitting at home in our safe zone whilst scrolling the filtered reality of our twice-removed friends keeps us in the loop when we are “too busy” to get out and see anyone. I recently saw a post which I think sparked my intentional action. A little girl who had no-one turn up to her birthday party but the mum had lots of messages from family and friends on social media to say Happy Birthday to the child. 13 letters and 10 seconds is all the time we have now for someone before moving on to the next person. Oh my heart.
But we can choose how we use it, right?
The Facebook feed of all this stuff wanting your attention for a new mum struggling under the intense needs of a new baby is at the very least, anxiety inducing. As if you weren’t already feeling like a failure whenever your baby cries. Don’t get me wrong, I’m the first person to say you can overcome your own thoughts, change your perspective, ect but even I have struggled. It’s like 20 different music tracks playing all at the same time. A lot of noise but you can’t hear anything. The sheer scope of social media this time round has been enough for me to take drastic action to switch off.
The study by Mark W. Becker, , Reem Alzahabi, , and Christopher J. Hopwood found “The unique association between media multitasking and these measures of psychosocial dysfunction suggests that the growing trend of multitasking with media may represent a unique risk factor for mental health problems related to mood and anxiety.”. The link to the study is here: https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/cyber.2012.0291
I get it. It makes sense to me. Humans need connection. We crave connection. Attempting to multi-tasking connection is like a car crash, backfiring everytime. I struggle to connect properly at a party with more than 10 friends. How can I possibly manage to connect with 100, 500 or 4000 friends all at once as soon as I open an app? It’s enough to trigger someone who has never had anxiety to feel a heartbeat increase, shorter breaths and a temperature rise. (If you do Yoga with me you know what I’m getting at here). I could easily spend an hour scrolling, looking at everyone’s stuff, and come away feeling empty, disconnected still, whereas I could spend an hour with a friend in the phone or face to face and come away feeling full from the connection.
What about our Children?
If I am feeling disconnection as an adult of 35 years who didn’t grow up with this multi-tasking media stuff, how is it affecting our children? How can they possibly manage social media skills whilst they are still learning basic social skills? Are they even managing to learn the basics of human connection? This led me to find an interesting study from 2017; “Key topics of inquiry include the following: anxiety and depression associated with technology-based negative social comparison, anxiety resulting from lack of emotion-regulation skills because of substituted digital media use, social anxiety from avoidance of social interaction because of substituted digital media use, anxiety because of worries about being inadequately connected, and anxiety, depression, and suicide as the result of cyberbullying and related behavior.”. Here is the full study: https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/140/Supplement_2/S76.long
I would love to hear from anyone who has any experience successfully managing social media and what strategies you use. I’d love to feature your approach on another blog post.