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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Does Social Media Make Us Anxious?

By: Kevin Ward

For most students, social media is an essential part of their daily lives. They scroll through Twitter before classes, post Instagram pictures of their lunch that afternoon and mindlessly check Facebook to avoid those awkward silences with strangers in the elevator. But all of that tweeting and posting could create anxiety as students strive for more followers, likes and constant updates.

Scott D’Urso, assistant professor in the Diederich College of Communication, had the idea to challenge his students to stay technology free for 24-hours. This meant no social media, no texting, no television and certainly no computers. The results were fairly the same across the board – students were bored, anxious and had the feeling that they were “missing out.”

A similar experiment was done at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business where they found that activities such as drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes are becoming less addictive than that urge to check social media profiles. And as the constant need to stay updated increases, so does the anxiety that comes along with it.

This so-called “social media anxiety” is what contributes to your number one thought when something cool happens in your life, which is “I need to Instagram this.” Followed by, “what filter should I use?”

On top of a need to stay informed, students also feel pressure to ensure that their social media profiles are just as interesting as the ones they follow.

“It’s almost as if you want people to be impressed with what you’re doing with your life,” says Natalie Ragusin, a sophomore in the College of Communication. “Right when I wake up, I naturally check my phone to see if I missed any texts or phone calls. Then I go right to Instagram.”

Ragusin is not alone. According to the Huffington Post, Instagram has 7.3 million active users a day, compared to Facebook, which has 488 million daily users. And with over 75 million tweets tweeted every day, it’s easy to assume social media is taking over our lives.

By users constantly documenting the places they go, people they’re with and the sights they see, Instagram has contributed to people over-analyzing situations and comparing themselves to those they follow.

“It’s definitely a self-confidence thing,” Ragusin says. “Sometimes you see a cool post and wonder why you’re not doing that. It’s like you’re doing something wrong.”

Social media anxiety is present even when we don’t realize it. Sitting at a computer alone can generate the worst kind of jealousy and feelings of insecurity.

Tim Cigelske, director of social media at Marquette, agrees that social media puts pressure on students to want to have so many followers or likes on a post.

“People are social animals, so we see ourselves partially through the feedback and eyes of others,” Cigelske says. “Naturally, online interactions play a part in how we see ourselves just as offline interactions do.”

But Cigelske is hesitant to say that “people base their self worth on how many likes or followers they have.” Jake Weber, a sophomore in the College of Business Administration, realizes he may be out of the “norm” in certain social media outlets such as Twitter.

“I follow more people than I have followers,” Weber says. “Usually people try to keep an even ratio, and I mean I love the favorites, but I’m still going to tweet regardless.”

There are many students like Weber who are able to overcome the pressures of social media, such as Catherine Gabel, a junior in the College of Communication. She admits that there is a “comforting feeling when someone appreciates your post,” but she also views social media from a professional standpoint.

“Within the communication school, there is a social media standard that we are held to,” Gabel says.” We are constantly learning how to utilize social media, and I definitely apply those strategies to my own posts.”

Gabel suggests that if you’re feeling anxious or can’t handle the pressure, then it’s best to take a break.

“Social media isn’t going away and neither is the pressure that comes along with it,” she says. “Some people just need to take a step back and realize that the world is a lot bigger than their Twitter feed.”

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