Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Generation That Instigated Social Anxiety

I believe there are truly people who are born with anxiety issues.
Believe me, I'm one of them!

That being said though, I also believe that this generation, with social media and self-serve options bombarding us at every corner, is feeding into the very thing that seems to be trending among young Americans today.  We are becoming anything BUT social, hiding behind our screens so we don't have to actually make a phone call and talk to a real voice on the other line or heaven forbid, go out in public and make eye contact with other people.

I talk about my anxiety triggers often because I believe that if I can at least target those consistent triggers (sometimes they are less conspicuous and completely unpredictable), then I will be able to stop the anxiety in its tracks or at least minimize its paralyzing effects.  After lots of thought, I realized that one of my main triggers is computer time or screen time.

I'm not saying YOU can't handle all the different social networking and options for messaging, but I know my limits and I am learning when I need to step away.

For example, if I'm reading a recipe off of the computer I am way more likely to snap at my kids in the kitchen than if I am reading it off one of those cute little recipe cards with the picture of the chubby chef in his fat white cooking hat taking a steaming hot loaf of fresh baked bread out of the oven *sigh*.  See, just talking about it gives me a smile and a slight skip in my step:)

Or if I'm writing a hand-written letter (have you ever gotten one of those?  Ah-MAZ-ing, right?!) I am way more prone to giggle along with my kids antics than if I'm trying to reply to an email or a Facebook message.

And then there are the constant texts that come streaming in on my phone throughout my day, demanding to be looked at, glanced at, read, replied to, and that's not even mentioning trying to find the perfectly appropriate Emoji that goes along with the banter back and forth.

And the "push notifications" that tell me every time a person "LIKES" something I post or comments about how cute my kids are or how awesome of a person I am, because I like to post the better parts of my day over the ugly-cry parts or the not-so-good mama moments.  Those aren't so picture perfect (although I do try to keep it real).

So this past week I let it be known to most of those around me that if they truly needed me they could call me, I wasn't going to be keeping up with texts.  Yes, pick up the phone and CALL me.  And I would, in turn, actually answer my phone (instead of panicking when it rings and quickly turning it upside down to deal with it later).  Long before last week Josh and I had made a decision to take the notification sounds off of all texts so we don't hear the constant sound when texts come through.  BEST decision of my life!  But I was still noticing myself checking my phone way too frequently to see if I had any texts (it's hard with your family is out of state and half-way across the world!).  And seeing as my kids were starting school and I was about to start a whole new life with just one child and changes scare me and give me anxiety (another trigger!) I decided that I didn't need to add the texts to my anxiety as well.  I decided to use my phone as a, well, PHONE.

I wasn't tied down.
It was so freeing.
I didn't feel as though I missed out on anything.
I felt like I had the control, not being controlled.

For me, I am seeing a downward spiral toward a society of people so addicted to avoiding real-life people that they are actually anxious around them (me included).  From the drive-through worker who we only have to say "thank you" to or request "more ketchup please", to the ATM machines so we don't have to interact with a real banker, to the self check-out at the grocery store.

Fight the machine, don't let it dictate your personality!

Pick up the phone and make those phone calls (I prefer to do it first thing in the morning when I am ready to conquer the day).
Be spontaneous and meet a friend for coffee and leave your phone in the car or in your pocket book.
Keep posting those pictures of your sweet babes, but make sure that you drop them by to play with mine (I'm still working on getting out of my house more often, ha!).
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