Social Media are Stressing Us Out!

As if managing the expectations of friends and family in the real world wasn’t enough, a study from the University of Edinburgh School of Business in Scotland indicates that the more types of friends we have on Facebook, the more stressed out we are.

Our anxiety increases because of the greater potential to offend someone, according to the study. Specifically, we’re afraid that our swearing, partying, smoking, drinking and engaging in other embarrassing or activities will be looked down upon by our co-workers, bosses, neighbors and parents.

“Facebook used to be like a great party for all your friends where you can dance, drink and flirt,” says Ben Marder, a marketing fellow at the university and the report’s author. “But now with your Mum, Dad and boss there the party becomes an anxious event full of potential social landmines.”

So, what is a Facebook over-sharer to do?

That’s what I talked about in an interview on the funny new weekly podcast, “Constant Crisis News & Opinion,” hosted by fellow communicators Chuck Hansen and Hamilton Holloway. (If you haven’t checked out their podcast, you should. As their tagline indicates, they poke fun at a world gone nuts, taking the ridiculous things we humans do and deconstructing them in an entertaining and often thought-provoking way.)

Chuck and Ham asked me to talk about how we can keep our sanity while continuing to be active on social media. As I said in the interview, it comes down to turning on that internal editor that social media have an inexplicable yet effective way of shutting down.  I confess during the interview that not many people overshare on Facebook better than I do. Some of my more introverted friends are horrified at the things I choose to share, though to me, crowd-sourcing my problems is cheaper than therapy.

Now, it’s not like I engage in risky or potentially career-ending behavior and post the evidence for all my 250 friends to see. But I do share my triumphs and heartaches, some of them quite personal, with my friends and family on Facebook — some of them professional colleagues. I don’t believe doing so has stressed me out, but I like to think I know the boundaries pretty well.

Some folks don’t think twice about posting what-happens-in-Vegas-worthy details of their lives and then wonder why their parents look at them disapprovingly at the next family dinner, or why they suddenly were disqualified to receive that promotion.

There’s more to the story than that, so go take a listen to the podcast. The entire episode is great, so if you have about 40 minutes to spare, grab a cup of coffee or listen to it over lunch like I usually do. If you’re pressed for time, or if you just can’t wait to hear what priceless pearls of wisdom Chuck was able to salvage from our conversation, jump to the 20:40 mark.



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