I can’t tell you how many times I have made a post about Facebook and mental health, it has been a real struggle for me. And I have tried several times to cut down my social media usage to no avail but I feel like I have finally made some real progress. To back up a bit, I was was struggling a lot the last few months, especially as Facebook changed it’s algorithms and created new features to keep our attention and addicted to the site.
My goal was always to reach people and connect with my message of mental health advocacy, there was a time where I wasn’t reaching as many people as I would have liked and I felt frustrated, I wondered if it was me or the algorithm and if Facebook decided to show my posts to my friends or not. I asked people how they got the algorithm to show their posts more, people suggested answering comments quicker and interacting with more people, I did all that and suddenly was able to reach more people and it felt great at first, I felt heard and validated and I was overwhelmed by all the positive feedback. It made me realized that a lot of people did care and they would have connected as reacted if they had seen the posts, it was bittersweet because I still resented the fact that I had to jump hoops and spend a lot of time and energy in order to be heard. It was like if I played Facebook’s game, then I’d get the rewarded, if I didn’t I was punished, it was a hostage situation.
I spent a large amount of time scrolling through my newsfeed, interacting with people, in the hopes that I would lead to my posts being more visible and I found myself constantly triggered by the highlight reels, constant smiling faces, people with good jobs during a pandemic, people in seemingly healthy relationships, finacially independent with plenty of friends( in real life) and family to support them. And not just that but seeing people getting more likes or comments then me sent my envy spiraling. Seeing all these people interact with each other made me wonder why they weren’t commenting on my posts, why they weren’t sending messages and if they were intentionally ignoring me. And if the newsfeed wasn’t bad enough, there was the stories feature which was a another way for people to boast about their lives, while mine was pitiful in comparsion, it was all too much, very overwhelming and it destroyed my self esteem. It came to a head when I saw a post from an Faceobok friend that used to talk to me a lot but I hadn’t heard from them in almost a year, I figured they were busy. It was a post about a zoom chat that was taking place and I thought “Oh that person wasn’t busy, they just didn’t want to talk to me anymore” It sounds stupid but thats the anxiety that social media causes for me.
So despite more people on my posts and getting more likes, it didn’t make me happy, it felt nothing except empitiness. I started to feel frustrated with everything I saw on Facebook, whether it was people only on there for business, highlight reels, fake interactions and fake friendships, negativity, trolls. algorithm, etc. And I stopped posting for about a week but still checked my profiles for notiifcations.
After awhile of not posting, I felt as though I could deactivate my account which is what I did. And I am trying to process this through therapy and in my own head, I am reflecting on how i want to approach Facebook, if I ever decide to come back and I am not sure if I will. I still feel anxious when I think of Facebook and everything that bothers me about it but I am not constantly triggered and even if I am inside my house doing nothing, at least its reality and I am not worried about what other people are doing. Right now, I just have to take care of myself and have faith things will work out the way their supposed to.