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Arlin Cuncic

Too Timid to Tweet?

By January 24, 2010

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I was just reading an interesting blog post from a stay-at-home mom about what she terms "social media anxiety". What exactly is this phenomenon? Take social anxiety, add Twitter, Facebook or any other social networking site, and you have the potential for "social media anxiety".

Although Colleen's post is partly tongue-in-cheek, she makes a good point. Those with social anxiety may sit frozen at the computer for minutes or hours trying to craft the perfect facebook update. They may be too afraid to join in conversations on Twitter, or too concerned about what others might think to leave comments on blogs.

Personally, I have always been a bit of a chat-o-phobic. Give me email, where I can take the time to write and respond at my leisure and I'm fine. Put me into a chat session and I start to question myself. Did I respond too quickly? Not quick enough? Am I boring the other person? How do I end the chat? And on it goes, until the chat is over and I return to carefully crafting my emails.

What do you think? Is social media anxiety a real phenomenon, or is it impossible to be socially anxious when sitting alone in front of a computer?

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Comments
January 27, 2010 at 11:02 pm
(1) Dan @ Anxiety Support Network says:

Well, I know this is true from personal experience. I really got into the internet prior to the social media explosion. But, I can remember that when playing videogames I would go wild with anxiety because I wanted to perform well and win the game! I had an intense fear of failure! Now, in my current life, I still feel that nervousness when talking in front of others, even on the ‘net. It’s very real, and not just for me, and I hope that your article will help to spread awareness about that!

February 15, 2010 at 12:38 pm
(2) Susheel says:

Hi Arlin,

That is an interesting post!

Of course it is real! The ‘social media anxiety’ as you call it! After all, the anxiety is basically ‘all in the mind’ – be it in real-life situation or in the virtual one. So even though we are sitting all alone in front of our computer and chatting or interacting with people not physically present, our mind is working almost in the same fashion as it does when we are actually communicating in real life.

For the anxious mind, there is not so much of a difference. The only difference is perhaps, that while interacting on the Internet, we have more privacy and less likely to be caught as an anxious person as people cannot actually see us and thus cannot notice any of our symptoms or discomforts associated with SAD. That lessens the chances of producing more ‘secondary anxiety’ that is produced due to the fear of people finding out our ‘primary anxiety’ – which we tend to perceive as some kind of a flaw in our personality or character.

But, I think, the basic ‘anxiety-producing’ thought process is the same in both conditions.

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