Do You Suffer From SMAD?
Last weekend, I made some super awesome burgers, and then I had a mini panic attack, because I didn’t know how to share this information with the world. Should I Instagram it? Snapchat it? Vine it? I finally decided to Instagram it, but definitely lamented the loss of a great grill Vine/Snapchat video that would have totally made all my friends jealous. This is not the first time I have experienced a form of social media anxiety.
While SMAD (Social Media Anxiety Disorder) is not a clinical diagnosis (yet), it is a very real problem that affects a lot of us. The term is said to be coined by Julie Spira, author of The Rules of Netiquette. Social Media Anxiety can manifest itself in a number of different ways, as outlined below:
FOMO: One of the most common forms of social media anxiety, FOMO typically attacks on Mondays and post-peak vacation times when friends upload Instagrams of the great time they had partying or swimming with dolphins.
FOLO: Fear of Losing Out is the fear of losing out on sharing a memorable, important experience with your friends in real time. This is what I experienced with my burgers. You could fix this by changing the dates on your posts, but it doesn’t feel authentic.
Sign Up Pressure: Majority of our social lives are on social media, specifically Facebook. Invites to events, career and personal achievements are all posted to Facebook. It is difficult to keep up with busy friends and family if you are not on social media. Additionally, a lot of industries now require employees to have some social media presence. Consequently, there is a large amount of pressure on those not interested in social media, to sign up for these services.
Approval Anxiety: I don’t remember how we sought approval before the Internet, but today, Likes, Comments, Favourites, Retweets, Reblogs and tiny hearts are all forms of approvals that we seek out persistently. Because it is so easy to, we constantly compare the feedback on our posts to others’, resulting in more feelings of anxiety and inferiority.
Pinferiority Complex: If you are on Pinterest, you know that those adorable chocolate chip cookie ice cream bowls do not turn out the way they look in pictures. You feel even more like a failure when your frenemy manages to make them just fine.
A lot of anxiety on social media is also caused by posting the wrong information, liking the wrong photo, getting tagged in something you did not want to, etc. Not everyone will experience these anxieties and not everyone will experience them enough for it to be a problem. However, Social Media Anxiety Disorder could be well on its way to becoming a serious, clinical diagnosis. Before it gets there, here are some ways to combat SMAD:
- Take at least one offline hour everyday and use it to read, sketch or develop an offline hobby that does not require technology.
- Realize that people only put up the highlights of their life online.
- Remember that you are not defined by anybody’s approval but your own.
- Remember your offline friends – personally invite them to your events, call them and grab coffee with them once in a while.
Have you experienced social media anxiety? How do you deal with it?