Social Media: The New Baby Monitor
Posted by Dr. Vollmer on August 5, 2013
Understanding the impact of new technology on mental states grabs me. Shelby, fifty-one, explains to me how her life has improved substantially because as she has been included in her adult children’s social media, she is reassured that they are safe. Prior to facebook and twitter, Shelby had significant anxiety about the physical safety of her children. One might think Shelby suffers from an anxiety disorder, and maybe she does, but she also suffers from a history of trauma where she witnessed the death of her sister as her four-year old sister, when Shelby was six, stepped off a curb, and Shelby watched as a car hit and killed her sister. This memory, etched in her brain, has trailed off in her brain with an intense anxiety about the safety of her progeny. Then, with Facebook, Shelby’s life instantly improved. Every time she saw a posting from one of her children, she reasonably assumed that her child was breathing. As she says, “facebook is better than a baby monitor.” Her children are aware of this dynamic, and for them too, according to Shelby, it is a lot simpler than calling to check in. Her children know what happened to Shelby’s sister, but Shelby is not sure that they connect the dots. “They don’t have to,” she says with firmness. “I am just so happy that they post, because I just cannot describe the relief I feel.” Shelby says with a power of someone who has lived through an overwhelming trauma. “I am happy for you that social media has improved your anxiety. I do not think that I would have ever seen social media in that way before, but now I do. ” I say, describing how Shelby no longer needs medication to deal with her anxiety, as social media has served the same function. Upon reflection, I can see how social media might improve the anxiety for so many, beyond those with Shelby’s history. Feeling the “touch” from a posting, can feel warm and cuddly. Global warming has a new meaning to me.