Is Social Media To Blame For Generation Anxiety?

I read an article a few days ago about how this generation, Generation Anxiety as we have been labelled, depend so much on alternative forms of communication that we can no longer communicate effectively on the phone or in person. And although I pride myself on being able to communicate well regardless of the platform, I have to agree with the points the article was making.

As a whole, the youth of today spend hours upon hours scrolling through newsfeeds, hitting refresh buttons and ensuring the best version of ourselves appears online for all to see. This new sensation has already wreaked havoc among the lives of many across the globe with online bullying, self-harm and battered self-confidence all coming into play. Why is it that this social media craze is preventing us from conveying how we really feel behind the eyes of our profile picture that got 89 likes in three hours?


And there we have it. It's all about popularity and online recognition. If we get over two hundred likes on a picture or status, we're a hero; but if we only gather a mere nine likes, we've failed on a big scale. It's the same in texting and messaging conversations. We only portray the best version of ourselves because that person is interesting and funny and uses great emojis, so who wouldn't want to talk to them?


When we text, we have ample time to think about our reply before we send it. We have time to think of witty one-liners or saucy sexts, but imagine how different our responses would be if they were on the phone or in person? We'd have no choice but to give our first thoughts, regardless of how our words came out. But that's the problem. In the same way we feel pressured to only share funny/important status updates online, we also feel that way about communicating with each other.


We rely so heavily on emojis and gifs, to explain our emotions that when we actually have to verbalise how we feel, we're fucking useless at it. For example, if I was having a terrible day and one of my friends asked me what was wrong, I might be more inclined to shrug it off and say "Nothing," but then text them later on that night to discuss it properly. It's almost as if we've made these social boundaries for ourselves that we can't pass unless it's on Facebook Messenger. How pathetic.


I think more and more of us are taking the persona we've so comfortably established online and using it in real life as well, which can only be toxic. It's not normal to walk around with a smile on your face every day or in brand-new designer clothes every week. Because of social media and all its glorious pressures, we're restricting ourselves regardless of whether we're in front of a screen or not. We're constantly afraid of not coming across as the perfect person we are on Facebook and Instagram, and ultimately that's having a negative impact on our real life relationships with the people closest to us.


We should all be able to sit down face-to-face and hold a conversation with anyone we message or Snapchat and if we can't do that, then the relationship isn't what it appears to be. How is it right that we can send people the most hideous selfies yet we can't sit down and talk to them for five minutes about the weather?


If social media really is the leading stimulant behind Generation Anxiety, maybe we ought to rethink our attitude towards our online presence. If social media is what's causing low self-confidence and anxiety then why are we continuing to endorse it? I'm not saying we should vanish off the face of the online world, but maybe it's time we focus more on the people standing in front of us than the circular profile pictures on our screens. Just a thought.

Olivia Dawson
Article written by
Olivia is a Journalism and New Media student at the University of Limerick. As well as writing for College Times, she is also a contributor with and After college Olivia hopes to write feature articles and/or opinion pieces for a New York magazine, from a penthouse suite in Manhattan, earning a six-figure annual salary. She's also known for being slightly over-ambitious.

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