It keeps us connected to friends, occupies those spare five minutes while we're waiting for the bus and - let's face it - we wouldn't be without it. But sometimes social networking drives us crazy. Here are the reasons social media stresses us out.
It's bad enough having to prepare a job interview outfit, perfect your CV and prepare well thought out and intelligent interview questions, but now research has suggested we should also be worrying about what's on our Facebook pages if we want to bag our dream job. According to a study by Career Builder, 37 per cent of hiring managers had checked prospective employees' social media pages before offering them the job, and one third of these had been put off by what they had seen there!
Thanks to the abundance of personal details many of us share on social media sites, it seems we are making the job of identify fraudsters much easier. With the click of a few buttons, it is easy to bring up a whole host of information on users who believe they are simply sharing innocent information with friends. In fact, according to experts, you could be providing enough information for somebody to easily set up a bank account in your name. To avoid becoming a victim of identity fraud, remember to update your privacy settings to make sure your personal life is kept private.
"You have been tagged..."
If prying bosses and identity thieves weren't enough to contend with, we now also have to deal with every fat day and fashion faux pas being broadcast for all to see. And, according to a recent study, our pals are doing it on purpose! According to a study by Mymemory.com, one in four women deliberately post unflattering photos of their friends wearing bikinis online and two fifths had deliberately posted photos of their friends without makeup. No wonder a study by Fitbit identified unflattering Facebook photos as the new number one weight loss trigger!
No introductions necessary
Before Facebook and Twitter, we could carefully craft out our own first impressions and choose which parts of our personality we wanted to reveal to new acquaintances. Now, we have to live with the fact that new colleagues and "blind dates" may know everything about us from our favourite band to our relationship history before we have actually been formally introduced. Yep, pre-date online stalking has truly taken all the mystery out of dating - are we the only ones who miss the days of actually getting to know each other in person?
The relationship status
Those early are-we-or-aren't-we days in a relationship have always been slightly tricky territory. However, prior to the rise of social media, all we had had to contend with were those common dilemmas of when to say I love you, how you should introduce them to your friends, and whether you were ready to meet the parents. Now we have had another obstacle thrown in our way: the relationship status. After all, you know you're official but are you "Facebook official"? Are you ready to take your relationship to that next ever-so-public level? And who should do it first? In the increasingly stressful world of dating, we're just not sure social media is helping!
On the subject of relationships, social media sites seem to have thrown yet another spanner in the works for couples. According to a study conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, more than 80 per cent of divorce attorneys have seen an increase in the number of divorce cases which use social networking as evidence in the past five years, whilst Divorce-Online have stated that a huge one in five divorces are caused by Facebook. Flirty messages, befriending exes and suspicious photos can all spell out trouble, so try to conduct yourself on social media sites as you would in real life to avoid unnecessary relationship drama.
We all know those people who not only appear to live incredible lives but who just love to tell the world all about it (repeatedly) via social media. It's hard not to feel a touch envious when yet another idyllic proposal/travelling/night out status or photo pops up while you are sat at home mourning the state of your love/social life. In fact, research carried out by a team at the Utah Valley University found that the longer we spend on Facebook, the more we start to think everyone else has much better lives than we do. However, it's important to remember that everyone is probably not leading the perfect lives you imagine, and they are probably having the same thoughts as you!
The ex factor
Whether or not your relationship breakup was one of the increasing numbers of those instigated by social media, when it all goes wrong in a relationship the availability of social media sites - and access to your ex - can make the whole thing so much harder. According to research, 88 per cent of people use Facebook to stalk their ex and 31 per cent post photos to deliberately try and make them jealous. Breaking up is never easy, so try to take some of the pain out of the process by helping yourself to move on - which means leaving your ex's online profiles alone.
Catching a bad mood
Just as we are all familiar with those social media friends who can't stop gushing about how wonderful their lives are, on the other side of the coin are those folks who seem to use social media as their own personal sounding board to rant about just about everything, from that guy who looked at them funny on the train to the state of the world at large. However, research has found that this can be just as detrimental to our happiness, as Facebook moods can be contagious! The study found that the emotions of Facebook users directly affect the emotions of their friends for up to three days.
When it comes to separating 'real' friends from virtual ones, sometimes the lines are blurred. Do we invite that girl we IM'd a couple of times to our party? What about that guy who always likes our statuses? The distinction can get even more difficult when deciding which of our real-life acquaintances to accept into our virtual world. Being inundated with updates from people who cause you stress in any way can easily ruin your mood, as can tailoring your content for the approval of your colleagues or boss, so try to be selective about who you add to help cut social media stress.
Want to take some of the stress out of social media? Check out these 5 ways to deal with digital stress.