Anxiety overload: The Gen Y and Z the social media generation.
By Terri O’Reilly
If you were born between 1977 and 1995 (now between 22 and 40 years), you’d be in the Gen Y category, also known as Millennials. If you were born in 1996 and later (now, at max 21 years old), you’d be a Gen Z, also referred to as the Centennials.
Congratulations, you have been voted the most tech-savvy generation in history but according to many, also the most anxious in history. I think I now understand why… and I have do ask do we have a social media problem?
Social media is gold
I’ve always envied your tech-savviness, so this year I made a commitment to embrace social media and everything technology. My friends are sick of hearing about my new-found enthusiasm because apparently, they’ve been hearing my promises for about 5 years now.
Power to me! I’ve now opened my profiles and joined the rest of humanity.
Tonight, I’m writing this blog and my now-can’t-live-without phone ‘bings’ with a notification. I’m not quite in the space yet of needing to address every sound that emanates from beside me, to check if the world is about to come to an end. But I do watch The Walking Dead so of course I check my phone just in case. On a side issue, I live next door to a deli so I’ve always thought I’ve got survival covered, somewhat.
Anyway, back to the bing that is now in my brain, so I click forth and watch a video posted by an old friend. Intriguing enough but now I feel the need to make a comment, ‘like’ or whatever. I choose to make a comment about something she said that I resonated with. Done… now I’m back to working on my much-loved-blog.
Bing, another notification. A friend has tagged me in a comment. So now I need to respond but I’m also thinking that: I need to iron an outfit for a corporate meeting I have tomorrow; organise lunches for the next day; put on a load of washing; and I’ve still made a commitment to myself to finish this the blog. Oh wait, I also should find the time to log onto online banking and pay a few bills that have been gracing my dining table for the past week or so. I know leaving them is sure to not end well!
I reply with something brief and quirky. But before I know it, another bing reaches out of my phone and begins to squeeze my brain matter.
The point of feeling anxious
I realise at this point that I’m now starting to feel a little bit overloaded and I have the feeling something’s pushing in on me. I feel the pressure from all the things that I need to get done tonight, as well as a need to respond and be present with others (sad face).
I’m now reflecting back on my friend’s video. It was shot on a beautiful Sunday morning (she mentions that), in the dog park in her neighbourhood – she seems so relaxed and peaceful.
As a counsellor, I’m very familiar that what people outwardly portray is often vastly different from how they actually feel inside. I’m not the authority on what my friend’s life is like these days but I do have a good understanding of what life is like for most people, and at times it’s far from relaxed.
We are masterful at making our own existence look great and stress-free from the outside, and there are many reasons why we do this. But it’s how we feel on the inside that really counts.
Social media problem #1
Social media doesn’t always promote the truth about how we really feel and about our flawed existence. Our pain, vulnerabilities, the moments when we are tied, our intrusive thoughts and bad days all make us human and are also to be treasured along with the good moments. Without it we would be The Walking Dead.
Social media problem #2
Tonight, I felt the pressure to be a caring person and respond to others and yet still find the time to simply be me – to get jobs done, to feel good about finishing them and to have my world in manageable equilibrium. We can’t be everything and social media demands time and attention.
We have to be responsible for choosing when, how long and how much we give of ourselves. I once saw a billboard in front of a coffee shop that read “Get out of social media and start living your own life”. As I reflect on that now, I can imagine this slogan to be a worthy panacea to our stress and anxiety.
So, if you belong to the Gen Y or Z generations, and you feel stressed or anxious there’s probably a very good reason. Continue to embrace all that is technology and social media but recognise when enough is enough. I can highly recommend at times, turning your phone off (oh the horror) and I promise you, if the world ends there’ll probably be many other indicators you’ll manage to pick up on. If the doors at Maccas don’t open, you might just have a problem.