How to Love Social Media

I hated social media for a bit, mainly because of FOMO (click here for a flashback to my issues with anxiety online). As a public relations student, one of the main jobs you get straight out of college in these days is doing social media. I vowed to myself I wasn't going into social media. I already got stressed with my own pages, so why would I want to do it all the time as a job? Then I got an internship in social media, which was the most healing experience between me and social media. It reframed my mind and made me feel a lot less anxiety about being on social media. Here's all the ways working in social media has helped me feel better about my life on social media:

1. You are posting for people other than yourself. This makes spending all day on Facebook healthier because you're on someone else's newsfeed and not stalking out your friends profiles and wondering why their lives seem so much more fulfilling.

2. It tuckers you out. I used to spend all my free time on social media, but since I do it for a living now, I don't really want to waste more time on it after work. I basically check it on my phone and then put it down and refocus on something else that I haven't been doing all day.

3. It helped me mature. I used to follow some whiners. It was a huge sobfest on my timelines, which did nothing but make me want to complain and gave me a negative worldview. Once I made it into the industry professionally, I started connecting with relevant people and my timeline went from a high school locker room to a forum for articulate discussion.

4. Probably the most important part about working in social media for me has been understanding it as a way to no longer feel social anxiety. I get it all now. I understand the practical and pragmatic networking abilities and it stops becoming such a powerful emotional experience. Transitioning from this heavily emotional forum to a logical outlet for communication has helped me respect social media more and feel less possessed by it.

I'm not saying that everyone should work in social media to feel better about it (because then I would be out of a job), but once you stop letting social media dictate how you feel, life becomes a lot less stressful.

Overcoming FOMO

In college one of my favorite articles I read was about FOMO, the fear of missing out. It's basically a feeling you get when you go on social media and see that all your friends are having so much fun and you weren't there. There's all these studies out now that back FOMO up, saying that social media and the Internet is causing kids to feel higher levels of anxiety (click here for an article that backs me up. and another just to up my credibility). Why I liked this article so much- and literally printed it out so I could always have it- was because I could deeply relate to it. I always felt like I was missing out. If I was invited to 2 different events at the same time, I would pick one and then sit on Facebook or Twitter the day after, waiting to see pictures and and status updates about the party I missed out on. I consistently felt like the other option was better no matter how much fun I'd have the night before, I'd always feel like I should have done the other thing.

Making decisions would be stressful, and then I'd have anxiety about it after, knowing that I'd be able to see if the other people had fun. One night I wanted to unwind after a rough week and relax, so I made no plans and decided to stay in. However, it was nowhere near relaxing. I kept checking in on social media and seeing how much fun people were having and I wondered why I ever decided not to go out. So much for relaxing...

Over time I built it up in my head that social media was this huge problem and that I'd never want to work in it because it is an evil empire. After getting a job where my title is literally "Social Media Specialist", I realize how wrong I was about social media.

Social media was never the problem. The problem was all in my head. This is how I needed to think about it: when people go out and take pictures, they hardly ever take sad ones and post them on Facebook. Even more, some of the best nights I've ever had were ones where we didn't take any pictures because we were literally having too much fun to do so.

Consider that people that tweet excessively are probably not doing anything else that would distract them from tweeting, while you're out there having a blast.

And lastly, who the hell cares? Remember that. If I had a great time, why should I be concerned if someone else had more fun? Why can't we all just have fun and not attempt to quantify it and compare it?

Social media is a great way to connect friends and families, consumers and companies, and strangers with similar interests. Just because someone tweets more than you, is tagged in more pictures than you, has a higher Klout score, or is Vine famous does not intrinsically mean that they are living vastly more exciting lived than you. It's just means they waste a lot more time trying to document their lives, while you're out there living it.