Do you get startled every time a notification appears on the screen of your phone or tablet? Does your mood change for the worst when you haven’t used your Phone in a span of three hours or more? Are you having difficulty concentrating for long periods of time before checking your social media sites? If you are having any of the above mentioned experiences, you are on the verge or already experiencing what researchers call Social media anxiety disorder. This disorder is quite similar to social anxiety disorder. Experts have observed that 20% of people with social media accounts cannot go more than three hours without checking them. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram are among the commonly used social media applications for interaction. The very essence of this applications was to boost human cohesiveness and connections that for a long time had been strained with distance and time.

As eastern knowledge as so well taught us, there is a “ying” to every “yang”. In order to achieve a wholesome understanding of ourselves and what we encounter in our daily lives, we need to have a clear view of the detrimental effects of social media since we know how it has already positively impacted our current world. Social media anxiety is not experienced by being on social media networks but by being away from them. The thought of loosing a phone, missing to check an e-mail or not seeing that notification is what propagates the anxiety among individuals.

Some of the symptoms that are indicative of social media anxiety are like: interrupting conversations to check your social media accounts, withdrawal from friends and family, loss of interest in other activities, an overwhelming urge to share things with others on social media sites and severe nervousness or anxiety when you are not able to check your notifications. Social media sites are silent thieves of time. According to Dr. Sarah Fader, about 30% of those who use social media spend more than 15 hours per week online and this can greatly reduce your ability to enjoy real life and eventually cost you your relationships, jobs and education.

While riding a matatu to work one morning, the radio presenter had engaged the listeners to a topic on social media posts and the message they present. Everyone seems happy on the pictures they post and living a grand and splash life. Is that the truth? This is a question we ask ourselves every day and strive to understand and sometimes, we do get swallowed in the urge to show the world that our lives are one big party. In pursuit of meeting this demands, we are overwhelmed with anxiety and fear through this social media channel that eventually affects our physical and mental health too. Back pain, insomnia, eye aches and constant migraines are but a few of the physical dents our bodies bear. Mentally, we tend to be more agitated, easily distracted and loss of interest in things that make up our day to day life.

There is a remedy to every anomaly and the first step towards change is acceptance. Dr. Sarah Fader outlines that, its imperative for us to realize that people who post all that great stuff on Facebook have a normal life like you and me but they only put good stuff on their pages. Get in touch with your real world and people around you. This will broaden your view on people and improve your social interaction skills. Manage the time you spend online and what you do online too so as to optimize time effectiveness and productivity in your life. Taking charge of your phone, laptop or iPad and deciding what you want to see on social media, is a bold step towards managing social media anxiety and the stress that comes with it. You are a social being. Don’t settle for a minion in this social bubble.