The Emotional Rollercoaster of Social Media

Photo: heragenda.com

Social media can be a great way to quell the ins and outs of your typical work day either during or after a long day at the office. How many of us take a break from our work to let our minds rest while we look into the social media world to see what our “friends” are up to during their day? Are they feeling the same stress, happiness, sadness, anger, or excitement about certain media attention or do they have news to report about their personal lives? How many of us sit on our couch at the end of either a long stressful day at work, or day and evening with the kids and literally zone out and scroll mindlessly through our social media feeds craving to find something to capture our attention?

Let’s face it- the majority of us do this. We are a very in tune society when social media comes to play. We are savvy about what we post to our feeds and cognizant about what others post to their own feeds. We also view this social media world as a group of people that we connect with in a digital world that provides empathy, sympathy, criticism and even debate at times without human presence or verbal interaction.

I’ve certainly become a fan of social media over the years and it seems to me that it can bring reassurance and love to my day, or anger and sometimes irritation depending on what I see going down my feed. I never in a million years thought social media could result in affecting the way that I may view certain “friends” online due to the occasional or constant posts that may reflect a person’s values that may or may not fall in line with my own. I am willing to bet I am not the only one that feels this way and I am willing to bet that there are certain reactions that speak louder than words in the social media world that can show these friends exactly what you think without ever having to say a word or confront someone in person. I am also assuming it can be excruciating when you notice this change in behavior if you rely heavily on the attention of social media.

So what happens when you start to notice that your social media friends may be trying to tell you something without having to actually say it but rather by no longer clicking buttons or writing messages to you that you once relied on for that reassurance? What happens when you notice they no longer like your posts and have abruptly stopped hitting those cute little like, love, wow, angry and sad buttons? Or no longer comment on a single post? Or you get the feeling you are posting one too many pictures of your kids or one too many controversial political posts due to the lack of likes and comments you once loved reading?

Those are just a few examples, but in the social media world, there can be many more passive ways someone may change their behavior towards your social media posts. Examples include bullying, sending inappropriate messages, or writing their own passive aggressive status updates or sharing passive aggressive links.

Now I’m not trying to start any wars here, but I know I’m not the only one that has noticed this trend in social media response especially when there are changes from previous reactions. We aren’t best friends with everyone on our social media sites and it’s ridiculous to think everyone has the time of day for us. I am mostly talking about closer circles of family and friends and their involvement in your social media circles.

The impact this may have on future interactions with that person in a real life situation may be awkward if you start to notice the passiveness that social media interactions with them has become. Psychologically, this can be tough depending on where you see that particular person again. It can create anxiety, fear and concern about relationships. It’s also easier to be cruel on social media as you do not have to face the person and give an immediate reaction. You have time to think about your responses and send a message back at your convenience. Social media may also affect your self esteem. Posting about your favorite politician or controversial subject matter may become difficult because of the anxiety it creates due to the potential impending responses that may ensue.

I don’t consider myself a social media obsessive by any means, but I certainly notice when friends and family that used to be more verbal on my social media sites all of a sudden pull a zipper up on their technology lips and stop responding to even the cutest puppy pictures I might happen to post.

What do you do when you notice this has happened and you know you will see that person again? How can you really address it? Social media can be a platform for people to be passive or even passive aggressive without needing to express themselves in a real human interaction. The beauty of this passive expression is one can assume reasons behind the abrupt absence of that like or comment, but you can’t necessarily prove it even in a confrontation with that person. It again can create a world of anxiety and low self confidence.

Excruciating, I realize. It’s how social media can either ruin your day or make it better. My best advice for this situation if you are feeling a bit bummed about someone passively ignoring you is the following: have a real human interaction experience and talk to them about it. I’m not saying confront them about not hitting like or commenting on your posts, but if it’s leading you to believe that there may be another reason behind the passivity, and that relationship is important to you, deal with it sooner rather than later when resentment can rear its ugly head. It’s so much tougher to confront someone in person as we don’t have a phone or computer to hide behind, or time to process our answers, but you will at least be able to add context to conversation. If you mentally can’t handle it, unfollow that person or change your privacy settings. You will at least have some control over your social media emotions.

If you feel as though you are being bullied and don’t feel safe, talk to someone about it including the authorities if necessary. Social media bullying has had devastating consequences for many including young teens and adults. The mental anguish online bullying can create is unfair and dangerous.

It’s a tough world out there with the rise in social media and everything that we can do with it. It can be a very powerful tool and can affect anyone’s emotions and attitude. Use your power as an individual to counter passivity, bullying, and inappropriate social media banter. With the click of one or two buttons, you can relinquish control.

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