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Social Media, Anxiety, and the Highly Sensitive Me

I have had a love/hate relationship with social media since the craze began.

I see those obnoxious graphics proudly boasting the fact that you are a rhymes-with-witch all over social media. Seriously, why is this okay and generally accepted behavior? I hope you’re simply confused about the definition of the word. Perhaps you engage in healthy assertiveness, not general nastiness. Sorry, but I wouldn’t be willing to “handle” you or anyone. Why would I? Why would anyone?

The constant fear-mongering, political opinions, crime, all the wars being waged — big and small — worldly and personal, insults hurled, despair distorted; the list goes on and on. What constitutes a “trend,” anyway? I’m just not trendy, I suppose. I am most content walking my own path.

But all of this has had a direct impact on my own personal growth. How can that be? Although draining, social media can also be inspiring. Somewhat.

What I see on social media almost always provokes a reaction of some sort and I am keenly aware of how my body, mind, and soul respond. I pay attention to the strong feelings that are provoked within. It can motivate and produce a slight redecoration of my interior. It gets you thinking on such a deep level. Well, it sure does if you are an anxiety sufferer and a highly sensitive person (HSP).

As such, I simply can’t ignore these little insights into myself that I receive, insights that lend themselves to greater comprehension and compassion. But it can also be exhausting.

Social media, for most, is about attention-seeking, regardless of whether the author of the post is aware of it. With these innate intuitive abilities, I feel your pain, your frustration, your hidden anguish and agendas. I gain insights into you that perhaps you never meant to share. And it wears me down. Being an empath is truly a gift, but quite often a burden, as the above are so frequently displayed on social media. So my indulgence is best kept to a minimum.

Even some “newsworthy” stories are less than trustworthy. Are we to believe everything we see on social media? It’s utterly frightening to think some rely on it as an extension of their education. As an HSP there is also a definite limit on violence and other such disturbing items I wish to see. Options are not always available to “block” content, for which I feel I we all have every right to control. I like to be in control of my life. In fact, it’s a necessity.

So although I love/hate social media, I have a need to be here. Do I wish to add to the stream of posts, graphics and videos that are largely ignored or surely judged? Not particularly, but if I’m not here how do I reach the people I wish to engage with? The very people my life purpose in this “here and now” moment wishes to connect with? Some days I strive to be invisible; other times I beat the bushes in an attempt to seek out others like me.

“Share” and “send” buttons have literally become my enemies. They are two of the many red flags in my world. These two simple actions can make me stop short and rethink my very words, and at times, my intentions. “Delete” is frequently my favored option.

And yet, it seems to be the vehicle which allows me to fulfill parts of my life and a few of my personal needs. It has become an indispensable ingredient in the recipe of my dream — to become a gift to others, who, like myself, are learning that life brings both beauty and sadness, both happiness and pain, and that all of this is a wondrous blessing that has a need to be shared. A purpose of love and intent solely bent on healing.

Unfortunate addiction, or not, I’m still on the fence. I prefer to keep the addiction at bay, my usage being what I deem necessary and comfortable within my strict boundaries of incoming stimuli. Otherwise it becomes even emptier, needless and, as with real life, a completely avoidable “negative” in my world.

Social media concept image available from Shutterstock

Social Media, Anxiety, and the Highly Sensitive Me

Lori Flemming

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APA Reference
Flemming, L. (2018). Social Media, Anxiety, and the Highly Sensitive Me. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 12 Dec 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.