An interesting phenomenon that is more or less exclusive to our generation is Social Media Anxiety (SMA). If you are on social media in any capacity then you have certainly felt this kind of pressure before.
This new, betchy twist on classic General Anxiety Disorder encompasses the panic that one feels about posting a new photo or status update. Since this is the year 2015 and we are no longer cavemen (men have walked on the MOON, dude), the obvious objective of any social media endeavor is to accrue as many “likes” as possible. Anyone who says otherwise is an elitist hippie who probably went to Wesleyan. Some common questions you might ask yourself include:
“Which filter should I use?”
“Should I go for a funny caption?”
“How’s my like-to-minute ratio?”
“Is this a good time to post? Should I just wait til tomorrow?”
As ridiculous as these might sound, they have undoubtedly crossed everyone’s mind at one point or another when deciding on a photo to post. If ever you’ve felt alone in this struggle, don’t; we’re all dealing with it in our own ways, and you should know that there are helplines and support groups who want to help you get better. Never should you feel so hopeless that you resort to deactivating your social media accounts. That is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, and you are worth so much more than that.
Interestingly enough, I recently took my Instagram public (thank you, thank you, I know, thank you, guys really please, STOP it! you’re the brave ones, not me) so I am glad to share a few tips that might help you overcome your crippling SMA.
1. Avoid Selfies
The sad truth is, not everyone is that excited to see your face so close up. You either look like Fiona from Shrek, so no one wants to be that close to you anyway (as evidenced by your eating lunch alone in bathroom stalls a la Mean Girls, and your hideous, greasy, green skin) OR you look like Beyoncé, and everyone’s really pissed about it.
Either way, you’re not going to get likes, so what’s the point? Keep the selfies to a minimum unless they’re with a celebrity that people actually care about (think Kardashian or Bieber; avoid Winona Ryder’s).
2. Pick an opportune time to post.
As a graduate with a bachelor of science degree, I can tell you with 100% certainty that this is harder than organic chemistry. Try to avoid mealtimes or times when people might be doing important things like work or SoulCycle. Shoot for down time: after work but before dinner, or after dinner but before bed. If you’re ballsy, try an overnight post; that way, it’ll be the first thing on peoples’ feeds when they wake up, and nothing says “GOOD MORNING!” like a #flashbackfriday of an event that happened on Tuesday.
3. Be wary of hashtags.
Believe me when I say that I love a good #hashtag as much as the #nextguy. But, there is such a thing as overdoing it. Something topical (#summer2015) or something #punny is always great. But “#love #fun #life #friends #summer #instagood” is excessive, and “instagood” isn’t even a word. If you have to ask yourself if you have too many hashtags, chances are you were destined to get 10 likes anyway so you might as well not post the photo. #toughlove.
4. If you’re not funny, don’t try to be.
When it comes to captions, it goes without saying that everyone would love to be funny, cheeky, quirky, and sarcastic, but the fact of the matter is, we can’t all be @thefatjewish. Be honest with yourself, and with your audience, and stick with a simple “Happy Birthday, Beatrice! Let’s be honest, we are probably only friends because we lived on the same freshman floor. Love you lots!”
5. Filters are your friends.
Filters are an essential tool for an aspiring (social) media tycoon. It’s simple: they make photos prettier, so don’t be afraid to utilize them! But be careful not to overdo it; as the great Whitney Houston once said, “Everything in moderation.”
6. Never post more than once a day.
Posting multiple photos from the same event on the same day is akin to texting all of your friends a detailed and unsolicited explanation of everything you did that day, entirely in caps. Don’t be that guy.
7. Don’t be afraid to hit ‘em with a location tag.
Spice up a typical Sunday brunch #foodstagram with a location tag, so you can let all your friends (and potential murderous stalkers) know exactly where you’re being a douchebag! If you’re a real badass, opt for a location tag with no caption – let your pretension speak for itself!
8. Experiment with black & white and sepia tones.
Black and white photos are great for making an otherwise totally mundane photo appear instantly classic, heartwarming, and sentimental. For example: have you ever seen an engagement photo in color? It’s about as heartwarming as a blood clot.
9. Quid pro fa sho: give a like to get a like.
How do you build a core group of loyal followers who you can be sure will like a photo of your cat’s birthday party when no one else does? By proving yourself to be a loyal follower of theirs! Good karma goes a long way in the social media world, so be sure to send out those good vibes.
That’s all I’ve got. Go forth my little social media warriors and please be sure to visit and like my SMA Awareness Page on Friendster, MySpace, SoundCloud, and Vimeo. With your help, we can save another poor soul from deactivating their social media accounts, and keep this world as #instagood as possible.