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Social media and anxiety

The following are stories shared from three members of the same family; each of them report having anxiety around the use of social media. They’ve shared with HOPE how social media has affected them, and how it has affected their non-digital communication.


Names have been changed for privacy.


Carlie, 12


I’ve never not used social media. I grew up in it. My mom posted pictures of me on Facebook when I was a baby so I guess I’ve always been on it, even before I knew I was on it.


I use TikTok and Instagram mainly, and I talk to my friends on Snapchat. Am I ever without my phone? No, I don’t think I ever am. They don’t take your phone away at school so I have it there too. My teacher actually sends most of our reminders through email, so it’s become just part of life.


I freak out when I’m not near my phone. I feel like I’m going to miss out on something important, even though if I really think about it, I’m sure nothing is that important that I can’t miss like one notification or whatever. But maybe it’s just my generation. We’re always connected.


I had one of my accounts banned already on TikTok, but I had all my videos saved on my phone so I just started a new one and reuploaded them. Actually, the videos are doing even better now than on my old account. I think it’s because I got banned once and people are curious to see what kind of stuff I post that I could get banned. I honestly don’t know why I was banned in the first place. I post what every other girl my age posts, so it’s not like I was offending anyone, I don’t think.


I get really annoyed when my videos don’t do as well as the last one. Like I wonder why this video isn’t as good as the other one… if I get 15,000 likes on one video and then I only get 9,000 on the next one, I don’t think to myself, ‘Wow, 9,000 likes!’ I think, ‘Really? Why didn’t it get 15,000 like the last one?’ And if my friend gets more likes, I get jealous. I would never tell her that, but it’s true.


Susan, 40


My husband and I have gotten into fights over our daughters’ usage of social, but I’d be a hypocrite if I took them away from her. I don’t have TikTok but I have Instagram and Facebook and I get the allure. First, it’s nice to share memories and pictures – especially if you look really good that day, or it’s a memory you want to preserve and share.


But I get his concern. Honestly, I don’t have a lot of anxiety over my own social media use, because I’m not addicted to it and I don’t care if anything I post gets a thousand likes or not. It serves more as a memory bank for myself. What does give me anxiety is what my girls go through. I know it was hard enough when I was in school to show up to school and feel like everyone is looking at what you’re wearing and who you’re hanging out with, and now I feel like no one gets a break from that. If you’re on social media, you’re almost obligated to post selfies, to show your body, to make it look like you’re living your best life, which is better than everyone else. Everyone knows it’s a highlight reel, but it doesn’t matter.


Joy, 16


I don’t think social media is all bad. I had a bit of social anxiety growing up and social media has actually helped me initiate and establish connections I couldn’t before. I learned how to talk to people online, which helped me figure out how to talk to them in person. I don’t keep a lot of friends like my little sister does, so having an online community has helped me feel less alone.


But there are bad things, for sure. I see my sister’s Tik Tok and she goes viral and I don’t, and even if I don’t ever wish to go viral, sometimes I’m like, ‘Why don’t I ever blow up like that?’ I see these girls and they’re 12 and I’m almost 17 and I don’t look anything like how they look, and I don’t have a weight problem or anything but it does make me feel bad about my body a lot. So I need to take breaks from social a lot because it just gives me this feeling of inadequacy. It doesn’t drive me to get better, it just makes me sad.

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