The Role of Social Anxiety Plays In Communication Technology

Posted by Counseling Wise on July 8, 2019


Each day, our world becomes increasingly digital. Every time a new app is developed, we sink further into a virtual reality. We snap, text, tweet, share, like, and post—all from the comfort of our own homes.

There are many benefits to these communication technologies. Our phones, tablets, laptops, televisions, and even our watches now allow us to share and receive information at incomprehensible speeds. We can speak to friends and loved ones across the globe with ease, and we can access digital files from virtually anywhere.

As our digital communications increase, however, we must examine the effect they have on our face-to-face interactions.

Recognizing Social Anxiety

Before we can analyze our communications, we must first take a closer look at social anxiety. What exactly is social anxiety?

Social anxiety is a recognized mental disorder where the sufferer experiences an extreme sense of fear or dread when faced with social situations. Keep in mind that social anxiety is not the same as shyness.

Socially anxious people experience a very severe fear of being negatively received in social situations. This reception can come in the form of judgment, mockery, or even rejection. Those with social anxiety disorder will often avoid social situations entirely to eliminate the possibility of a “bad” outcome.

These individuals fear in-person, face-to-face situations. The thought of facing people in a physical situation, such as a party or a dinner, can feel dreadfully overwhelming.

This is likely because, in real and tangible settings, there is nowhere to go and nothing to hide behind. In face-to-face communications, you must make eye contact, smile, engage in small talk, shake hands, meet new people, spend time in one place, and maybe even speak in public.

Social Anxiety in a Digital World

In our digital world filled with communication technologies, the line between real and surreal is constantly getting blurrier. For someone with social anxiety, the opportunity to talk to and interact with others without the intense pressures of in-person communication can seem heaven-sent.

Devices like smartphones and iPads allow the socially anxious to communicate with their friends and family in a safer, less intimidating way. People can stop and start conversations at leisure. Even features like Skype and FaceTime allow people to interact while sitting on the couch or in their cars.

It would seem, then, that commutation technologies are helping to reduce social anxiety by providing more control over situations and conversations.

A Dangerous Cycle

Conversely, however, is it also possible that our technologies are actually feeding our social anxieties?

Isn’t it only natural that as we begin to rely more and more on communicating through typed messages and quick photographs that we are forgetting how to have real conversations? Social anxiety, then, may have a very cyclical relationship with our digital devices.

Our communication technologies make interactions easier and less stressful, which brings down our anxiety levels. In turn, as we come to rely more heavily on our digital communications, we spend less time in the “real” world and less time practicing our in-person social interaction skills.

Because we rarely rely on these skills, they become weaker—which only makes us feel more anxious the next time we are forced to use them.

Finding Peace

The key to achieving peace despite this concerning cycle can be summed up in one word: balance.

We can often use technology for good! The problem comes only when we begin to rely entirely on our devices to connect us to others.

Peace is found—and balance is struck—through a healthy combination of all types of communication. Successful people will know how to use technology to their advantage without sacrificing their valuable, face-to-face conversations and relationships.

If you are feeling out of balance with your digital communications, professional counseling can help restore harmony to your life. To learn anxiety click here to go to my Anxiety Counseling page

I am here to partner with you to transform your life. If you are ready to partner with me to transform your life, lease feel free to contact me for a free 30-minute consultation so we can work on a plan to help you.

About the Therapist

Gay A. Hunter, M.Div., LPC-S, is a licensed professional counselor who graduated from Brite Divinity School at TCU. She is committed to partner with you to transform your life. She owns a private practice in Fort Worth, TX. She specializes in online therapy. She is trained in Cognitive Processing Therapy for PTSD and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. To find out more about Gay click here