Even though technology is supposed to make our lives easier, it can be stressful and cause anxiety. Technology shakes us out of our comfort zone and puts us in situations where we have to learn new things and think in different ways. Plus, it's constantly changing, forcing us to keep adapting. But now, it's not just learning a new operating system, a new program, or a jammed printer that stresses people out; new research shows that social media is also fueling stress and anxiety. In fact, a report from the University of Edinburgh Business School showed the more "friends" and contacts people have on sites like Facebook the more likely they feel "stressed out."
Social Media and Stress: More Friends Equals More Stress?
Having tons of friends, even if you only interact with them online, sounds like a good thing, but, as this study points out, there are some downsides to growing your list of Facebook friends and contacts on social networks. As your list of friends expands, you're bringing together people from widely different social circles and backgrounds - and that can pose problems.
According to the report, the average Facebook user has friends from seven different social circles, including family, friends at work, friends from college or high school, and even former spouses and partners. It's easy to see how these different social spheres could collide and explode.
The biggest problems arise when users add employers and close family members like siblings or parents to their list of Facebook friends. After all, do you really want your employer or mom to know about the wild party you went to the other night or the fact that you had to be escorted home after a "few too many?"
More employers are turning to Facebook to gather information about prospective employees before hiring them - for good reason. Many people reveal more about themselves on their Facebook page than they do to their next-door neighbor or a casual friend. Despite the ability to use privacy settings to control who sees what, many users aren't taking advantage of this feature, and their life is like an open book for anyone who wants to read it.
Tips for Cutting Back on Social Media Time
Being too transparent on social media can come back to bite you, but that's not the only reason to cut back on social media time. It's hard to juggle a long list of Facebook friends. Plus, reading and responding to comments takes time. Even if you're a great multi-tasker, you'll get more done if you spend less time reading, responding, and posting to every social media site. For a reality check, keep track of how much time you spend on social media sites each day. You may be shocked by the results, and, hopefully, motivated to channel some of that time into more productive activities.
The best way to reduce the stress of juggling too many friends and regain control of your time is to limit the amount of time you spend on sites like Facebook. Schedule 30 minutes or an hour a day to log into social media sites. Set a timer and when the it goes off, move onto something else. Too many people log onto social media compulsively throughout the day and end up getting less done as a result. Just as you schedule appointments and projects, plan your social media time and stick to it.
Think of how much more you can accomplish with some of the time you spend "liking" things on Facebook. Make a list of other things you could do with your time and devote some of your social media time to doing them.
Break projects down into small steps and accomplish one step each day during the time you would normally be logged into Facebook. When you see what you're accomplishing by not spending your time on social media, you'll be even more motivated.
Finally, spend more time with your "flesh and blood" friends. Don't let social media be a substitute for relationships with people in the physical world. Social media wasn't meant to replace real human contact.