I have struggled for the longest time with social media ( and I’m mainly talking about Facebook); I use it too much; I take it too seriously and because of my anxiety I tend to overshare and at times share things that are too personal; I regret that. I mean, it has been great to reconnect with old friends and get support but it comes with a price. Seeing old faces brings up painful memories about the past and since they live so far away; I cannot connect in person unless they are in town ( which has happened on a few occasions and when I traveled back home ) At the same time it’s nice to have a virtual support network but it would nice to have someone to have lunch with and talk; give them a hug and hear their voices; as opposed to a like or comment on a Facebook status; I need those social cues or else there is a lot of room for misinterpretation; online communication it’s not the same; so it’s frustrating a lot of the times.
A lot of times I will share deeply personal writings on social media because people have given a positive responses in the past and it has given them insight into who I am. But Facebook is funny; sometimes I can share a piece of writing and get a lot of reactions and comments; even messages and other days I can share similar pieces and get nothing; 2-3 hours roll by and nothing; no feedback, no likes; just silence. It used to confuse me; why do other people seem to get reactions to similar posts but mine are ignored? Are people actively ignoring me; did I share something offensive? Are they annoyed? Have they stopped caring? It just creates all of this anxiety and paranoia and it really affects me; it makes me feel as if I am being unheard. Even messages get ignored and I start wondering if people have stopped liking me: I take it personally. What really annoys me is Facebook has this little icon informing you the person saw the message. Who would create such a thing; it really messes with your self esteem because it means someone opened the message and decided not to respond; what creates more anxiety than that? At least email and text leaves that mystery and that glimmer of hope that maybe they just didn’t have time to respond. So this creates a lot of anxiety; I feel anxious just writing about it.
Sometimes I get sad about it other times I get angry and lash out. I just want to note that I communicate a lot with childhood friends who I really care about; I love them and their opinions really matter to me even if I haven’t seen them in yeas. I guess my feelings are so strong that it causes a hurt reaction when I feel they aren’t responding to my posts; especially about my brother or mental health struggles. I remember a few months ago I called out people in a Facebook status who I thought didn’t care about what I had to say; in a mean way I told them they never cared about me or my brother ( who died) all because they failed to respond; I was really hurt at the time and going through a period of reliving the past because I was getting ready to visit back home after not being there for over 10 years. I ended up unfriending a lot of people who I cared about; who hadn’t actually done anything to me. My trip back home was healing and someone had sent me some old photos with some of the friends who I had accused of not caring. I had a change of heart and re-added them; one of them messaged me and she was really upset. She basically said that some people don’t use Facebook as much and don’t always see posts; which is very true when I sat back and thought about it. And then she said something that stuck with me. She said that how she was on social media doesn’t reflective how she felt about me or my brother or family in real life and that made a whole lot of sense; that sometime we get lost in the online world and fail to realize that it oftentimes has little bearing on our true feelings if that makes any sense. I am grateful she said that and she decided to be my friend again on Facebook.
Lately though I have been getting frustrated at again at the lack of response; I found myself again making negative posts; annoyed because I was getting silence again. This time I rethought about it and I realized maybe it wasn’t my friends I was upset at; maybe it was social media itself. Maybe it’s the stupid algorithm where no one ever sees my posts and I don’t see theirs. Maybe it’s the fact that 90% of the time all I see is irrelevant information from liked pages or unreliable news sources ( I have seen the video of the cow stuck in the fence a thousand times), maybe it’s a system where I see the same kinds of posts over and over again and all of it is based on popularity ( the amount of comments). I thought it doesn’t make sense for someone to like all your posts on Monday and actively ignore all your posts on Tuesday; unless I have upset them and as far I know I go out of my way to encourage people and be positive so that can’t be the case. Social media has caused so much damage to relationships and society at large and I am an impulsive person; I never want accuse people of not caring or hurt them anyway again; so I prefer to be angry at the source; social media itself and not the people on it.
I feel Facebook is real addictive and I have an issue with compulsive behavior ( the blog included) I checked my Facebook hundreds of times a day ( especially when I am stressed; which is all the time). I ended comparing myself to others; seeing their families, relationships and careers made me feel so inferior ( and I felt inferior to them before social media) and it increased my depression. I also felt bad I used it so much when everyone else seem to be in control. When I went back home I stayed with a friend and talk about Facebook sometimes; she basically said “Oh i don’t use it that much and not many people do either”. I felt like my usage was out of control and I took it too seriously. But I also realized how isolated I was and that using Facebook was a way for me to reach to my friends. I came back home; determined to use it less but it ended continuing to use Facebook at a higher rate. I even read an article that Facebook notifications give us a dopamine rush and liken it to a slot machine. When we share a post; it’s like pulling that lever and we may not get a reaction every time but we pull that lever over and over again until we get a reward ( a like or comment) and that creates the addictive cycle. Even the creators admit that social media was created to be addicting; so it’s not in our heads. Social media addiction is a real thing. I’ll never forget that when MySpace came out ( 200 years ago); I was sitting with a friend in his basement and I was checking MySpace. He rolled his eyes and said “oh i don’t use that”; as if he was better than me. This was a guy who was incredibly good looking and had different girls every day of the week; I guess he didn’t need it; he wasn’t lonely like me. I felt like such a loser at that moment and no one was talking about social media addiction at the time ( I don’t even think it was called social media at the time). It was prophetic moment.
So I decided to deactivate my Facebook temporarily; I’ll be back on my birthday in 2 weeks (I’m sorry I need those birthday wishes lol) I am keeping my Instagram and blog. I want to make a few observations so far ( it has been about 5 days); I notice a lot more interactions on Instagram and my blog. I am more connected with writers on IG and they have been really responsive about my writings; I get more likes and comments and there seem to be more active users than on Facebook; people are better at responding to messages too. And I could be wrong but Instagram seems to be a much more positive place; a lot of users sharing their writings or inspiring accounts of disabled instagrammers sharing their stories; I love it. I don’t see many advertisements or irrelevant information like on Facebook. I also noticed that friends who would ignore me on Facebook would react to my posts on Instagram which makes me realize they do like me and aren’t ignoring me; it’s just they haven’t seen my posts. So I can breathe a sigh of relief and say the only Facebook friend I am angry at is Mark; because he just wants my data; is hindering communication with my friends and is only interested in money. Sadly he’s the only I can’t unfriend. I suggest to anyone struggling with social media to give yourself a break; deactivate your account ( keep messenger so you’re not completely cut off) and find one social media platform that you like the most and just use that. I am trying to gain some perspective and figure out my purpose with Facebook; because there are benefits when used in moderation.
Stay safe online my friends
By the way- There is a huge hurricane coming here this week so if I don’t post for a while; the power may be out and I won’t have access to a comupter. Or I’m in the curled up in a ball in a pitch black room; freaking out and crying my eyes out but let’s hope that doesn’t happen lol. Oh Florence just stay away from me…..
Oh and for anyone interested my Instagram is davethewriter18