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The 'Stress' of Social Media Circles

Manufactured concern, questionable use of research budgets and a faintly ludicrous way to fill column inches or a matter for genuine worry as social media infiltrates all aspects of our lives? You decide.

According to a new study, the further one’s ‘circles’ increase and the more different aspects of people’s lives intersect on one open platform, the more potential for stress and anxiety there is. Some may call this a statement of the glaringly obvious. Social media is designed to create an online imprint of one’s entire life and just as in ‘normal’ life, one would rather keep certain dimensions of one’s life at arm’s length from each other, so it is on social media.

It seems that the report’s slightly labored point is this. You go out and get appallingly drunk one night and wake up naked in a tree tied to a shopping trolley. Obviously anyone you happened to be with has done the decent thing and snapped a series of photos on whatever photographic device they had to hand and uploaded it to Facebook before you’ve even woken up.

All your friends find it hilariously amusing and you are mocked senseless in good natured fashion. However you also have your mum, your stern aunt, your teacher, your priest and your probation officer as Facebook friends. They are less amused and your apparent lack of control over one facet of your lifestyle leaking into general release causes you intolerable stress.

No earth shattering surprises there, although interestingly, it would seem that these victims are too traumatized to even use the privacy controls on offer, with only one third of people interviewed using the admittedly complex privacy functions to hand select who sees what.

But perhaps the real concern is not so much whether your mum sees you painted blue or your girlfriend sees a photo of you looking a little too familiar with her sister, but the extent to which we all commodify ourselves on our own online profiles. To what extent do attempts to control perceptions of ourselves by the outside world affect our psychology as human beings? We may have to wait for a deeper report

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