It is estimated that in 2017, more than 2.7 billion people used social media. This means that no more and no less than 37% of the world’s population feel interested in sharing their tastes, hobbies and privacy with the rest of humanity.
While everyone is free to post whatever they want, the ability to share everyday experiences via social media makes the line between public and private life too narrow, which leads to a new mental health problem known as privacy fatigue.
What is privacy fatigue?
Privacy fatigue is emerging as a new psychological disorder which, it is not currently included in any assessment and diagnostic manual, Has been observed and manifested in a large number of people.
A research group made up of psychologists from the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea assessed how social media users cope with the thin line between the private and the public. .
After extensive research and evaluation, they warned that a large number of users were exhibiting symptoms similar to psychological fatigue caused by excessive and constant concern for the threats and risks involved. lack of privacy in networks.
This psychological state has received the name of privacy fatigue, characterized by cause a feeling of psychological fatigue related to the person’s lack of skills to effectively manage their privacy and intimate information on the Internet and social media.
The main theory of these researchers is that while its intensity can vary, privacy fatigue affects most active social media users. This is because some users feel an obligation or need to permanently separate private information from that which may be public or shared with the rest of the world, in order to protect their privacy.
This constant “state of alert” can lead to the intimacy fatigue mentioned above, which also causes people themselves to let their guard down due to fatigue and generates feelings of frustration.
Some situations that can illustrate this type of fatigue of privacy are those moments when we do not really know whether to highlight on the networks a photo or a publication or not because, in the ‘ not knowing how to clearly draw the line between public and privateIt gives us a sense of unease or worry when we think that we are not exposing ourselves too much.
What did the studies find?
Thanks to research carried out by the Ulsan group of psychologists, it is hypothesized that there are two types of reactions to the confidentiality conflict.
On the one hand, it occurs in those who fear being too exposed but have the skills to not feel tired and they tend not to disseminate certain types of personal information on networks.
On the other hand, there are other types of social media users who, in addition to feeling concerned about the risk of risking their privacy or privacy, do not have sufficient tools to differentiate the information under consideration. as personal or public, so that they end up losing the will. to control this separation.
This psychological fatigue pushes the people concerned to share personal content on social networks without thinking about their nature. The main cause is that privacy fatigue generates such psychological exhaustion that it makes people forget the need to protect their privacy and the risks of excessive public exposure.
The paradox of privacy
As a result of this fatigue, a phenomenon known as the “privacy paradox” occurs. This concept refers to the fact that users of social networks the habit of posting personal information despite concern for your privacy.
This paradox is not only related to the fatigue of privacy, but it is supported by many other internal psychological factors or agents such as the need to be assertive and to feel part of a group of people or of people. ‘a community.
Privacy has traditionally been understood as an area or area of each person’s intimate life, which takes place in a private and usually confidential space. However, this notion of privacy has changed over the years and the advent of social media.
A few years ago, it would have been unthinkable to publish a photograph in which we are in the privacy of our home. But with the rise of social networks, Privacy has become a tool of exposure to the world, through which to express how we feel or how proud we are to do any activity.
This causes each person’s individual identity to form around a community identity, which reinforces (or sometimes punishes) that identity by the number of likes given in a message. As a result, it becomes increasingly difficult to draw a line between public and personal or private.
What are the symptoms?
Finally, the research team that came up with the term privacy fatigue identified a number of symptoms that develop as fatigue from this constant preoccupation progresses.
At first, the symptoms appear the same as in other types of fatigue. The person is so overwhelmed with requests that his or her own concern for privacy demands that it ends up triggering continuous psychological exhaustion.
This feeling of permanent psychological exhaustion gradually increases until it becomes frustration, despair or disappointment. The person experiences a feeling similar to learned helplessness as they feel that nothing they are doing can prevent them from being exposed through social media.
Therefore, as with the process of impotence, the person stops fighting to maintain this confidentiality, which means that they stop worrying about the content posted on social networks that can be considered public or, on the contrary , too private.
Is there any treatment?
As this is a psychological disorder to be determined, there are no specific treatment or intervention guidelines. However, it is recommended for all people who feel overwhelmed by this constant concern. go to a psychology professional to make an assessment and a possible individualized intervention.