You really want to post that?
Image: Anna DeFlorian
On Edge is a series about stress in 2017.
Social media makes it easy to share everything from diarrhea to divorce, but how much is healthy?
Nine years ago, when I was newly separated and eager for social support, I clicked the post button, meaning to message an old friend about the agony of my failed marriage. Unfortunately, I was also a novice Facebook user. So when my friend called, I thought she was simply offering support, but then she explained that private messages were different from public wall posts. And when I realized I had posted a mass personal communication announcing details of my divorce, my stress levels skyrocketed.
It’s healthy to reach for camaraderie during difficult times, and social media makes it easy to recruit support. Pew research notes Facebook users report significantly higher levels of social support, emotional support, and companionship than nonusers. In fact, a 2011 report published by Pew Research states, “Someone who uses Facebook multiple times per day gets about half the boost in total support that someone receives from being married or living with a partner.” (Plus, Facebook doesn’t leave dirty socks lying around.)
Social media can be an excellent support resource, but it can be a significant source of stress as well. The problem is during hardship, what we choose to share on social media—and how others respond to it—can seriously impact our stress levels. While my post was a mistake, people sometimes seem to have verbal diarrhea on social media.
Read the full story on TONIC.