10 Things Not to Do on Facebook When You Have SAD

How to Have a Better Facebook Experience When You Have Social Anxiety Disorder

Take care in how you use Facebook if you have social anxiety.
Facebook can have a negative influence on social anxiety if you are not careful. Getty / Moment / Oscar Wong

Interacting on Facebook carries with it many of the same fears and insecurities that you probably feel in real life. The difference is that when you are alone in front of your computer, there is ample time to start obsessing and spending too much time worrying about what other people think.

This is a potentially dangerous situation for those with social anxiety disorder (SAD). Below are some tips on how to keep your Facebook time fruitful.

1. Obsess about your posts.

Sure it might be hard. Perhaps you sit there for 30 minutes thinking of the best way to word your status update. Posting on Facebook is a lot like making conversation; if you suffer with SAD you tend to over-think everything that you say.

The best rule of thumb is to...

spend no more than a minute or two writing your post.

If it is taking longer, force yourself to leave the site without posting so that you don't start obsessing.

2. Think that everyone else is having more fun than you.

When you look at your friend feed, it might seem like everyone else is having a whole lot more fun than you. Remember that just like you, most of your friends probably want to appear in a positive light on Facebook.

They are more likely to post about

  • the fun things that they are doing
  • and how great their lives are going.

Try not to make comparisons, because you are only seeing a filtered version of their lives.

3. Think everyone else has more friends than you.

Do you look to see how many friends other people have?

Do you feel bad about your lack of friends?

Again, this is a matter of perception. Some people send friend requests to every person they have ever met; that doesn't mean that those are people they know very well in everyday life.

Stop worrying about how many friends you have and care more about the quality of those friendships.

4. Deactivate... reactivate... deactivate... reactivate.

If you are caught in a vicious cycle of deactivating and reactivating your account every time you feel bad or down about Facebook it is time to stop.

Make a decision one way or the other about whether you want to participate.

If you decide to give it up, don't just deactivate your account; permanently delete it. Make sure you are certain about your decision and then stick to it.

5. Worry about how you look in photographs.

On Facebook, you can only control the photographs you post of yourself. Even if you don't have a Facebook account, it is possible that someone has posted photographs of you on the social networking site. 

If genuinely unflattering photographs are posted of you and also tagged, you can remove those tags so that people who search will not find you by name. 

In general, however, remember that everyone takes a bad picture from time to time. Those who know you in real life know what you really look like!

6. Think that you have to accept all friend requests.

Did you get a friend request from

  • someone you don't know
  • someone you barely know
  • or someone you don't care to know?

You aren't obligated to accept all friend requests that you receive.

If you wish to keep your friend circle small and private that is your choice. Don't feel badly about ignoring friend requests or even unfriending people after the fact. Unless it is someone you know well and have a relationship with, no explanation is required.

7. Spend too much time on Facebook.

Do you end up spending more time on the social networking site than you originally planned? If so, trying setting a daily time limit for browsing and posting; perhaps 5 to 10 minutes in the morning and evening.

8. Stalk other people.

Only you know why you are stalking someone. Whether it is

  • an ex-girlfriend
  • someone you went to school with long ago
  • someone who wronged you

stalking is a non-productive activity. Stalking someone's page might make you feel good in the short term (you get a little "hit" when they post a picture or status update) but in the long run it is an addictive behavior and a time-waster.

Instead, focus your time and effort getting to know your friends better. Pick up hints from their posts about what they like, and then ask them about those topics when you get together in person.

9. Have a public page.

If you are truly concerned about the privacy of your information on the Internet, change your account settings so that your profile cannot be viewed by the general public.

Doing so ensures that you are only sharing with your circle of friends; knowing this should make it easier to be more candid as well.

10. Stop going outside.

Facebook is best used as a tool for building offline friendships. Instead of spending time interacting with your friends online, use Facebook to set up in-person activities that will help to build your social confidence. Use Facebook as a tool to make connecting in person easier and your time will be well spent.