This is part of my Blog Post Series: How To Thrive As An Adult

I feel like social media was created by malicious actors to move people with anxiety past their breaking points. Feeling good today? Well, here are literally 37 things to upset you. Have a miserable day!

The first way that social media adds marbles to our anxiety jar is through fake news. In theory, news is intended to inform and instruct. But instead, much of the news is fake. Its purpose is to discredit particular people and institutions, e.g., pizzagate conspiracy theory.

In fairness, not all news on social media is fake, but much of what gets reposted and retweeted is fake. Fake stories make us feel angry, and anger motivates us to share more than any other emotion.

The second way social media amps up our anxiety is through reality distortion. We see photos and videos of other people living a magical existence. Here are 6,000 pics of us parasailing, as we hurtle through a pod of bottlenosed dolphins while we sip baby elephant tears from handcrafted golden goblets.

Social media showcases the highlights of expensive vacations from each of our 5,000 friends. What we don’t see is the other 51 weeks of the year, where this friend wasn’t having a blast in Fiji. We don’t see the enormous credit card bill to pay for it all, and the attendant stress. We don’t see the many parts of the trip that involve bickering, standing in line, or sleeping in strange places. And we certainly don’t see photographs from friends chronicling their mundane existence because they cannot afford lavish vacations. Here’s a dozen photos of Herbert, scraping a generic brand of Rice Krispies from a plastic cereal bowl as he washes dishes while listening to little Lydia practice CCR’s Proud Mary on Grandma’s pianoforte.

This reality distortion tempts us into thinking that all our friends have been raptured into a paradisiacal glory, leaving us behind on earth, trudging through our boring lives. Is it any wonder that we feel envious of others? Is it any surprise when we fail to feel gratitude for the good people and things in our lives?

These days, I don’t get on Facebook or Instagram. I only follow a few select individuals on Twitter, and I accept that I’ll miss out on some things. But it’s worth it to keep my anxiety marble count low.

Be well, my friend.

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