The Atlantic

How Twitter Fuels Anxiety

The anxious can often find a supportive community through tweeting, but the nature of the social media site can exacerbate symptoms.
Source: Dado Ruvic / Reuters

In Ralph Waldo Emerson's famous essay on self-reliance, the 19th-century writer and naturalist sang the praises of spiritual isolation and the evils of distraction, bemoaning the forces that conspired to direct his attention to "emphatic trifles." He would not be cowed, he said, but would stand resolute in the face of such bad influences: "The power men possess to annoy me, I give them by a weak curiosity ... If we cannot at once rise to the sanctities of obedience and faith, let us at least resist our temptations."

Don't tell Ralph about Twitter.

I joined Twitter in 2009 at the urging of my husband, who works in technology. "What am I going to do, tell the internet what I ate for breakfast?" I asked him. Eight years later, I'm the one checking Twitter over my morning toast while he gets ready for work. Twitter has become the place where I get my news, where I check in on my friends, where I go to make jokes and read good essays. As a lifelong sufferer of anxiety, it is where I go to talk about what I’m feeling when I’m

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