Social media addiction

I am hopelessly addicted to social media, I am on there all day, constantly posting, seeking validation, I live for those likes and comments, I love the rush of my notifications bell going off, it makes me feel connected in a world wherein reality I feel totally isolated ( even before Covid 19). I feel like people understand me online, they judge me less, I can edit myself, I can delete posts, I can create an image of myself that makes me seem cooler and more interesting than I really am. I can live a lie and omit my glaring flaws, that’s what social media is all about

A lot of people knock social media but I actually receive tons of positive support online and it’s such an amazing feeling, I feel like I belong, I run groups, I do live Facebook videos, I am vulnerable, I put myself out there for the world to see and people respond, I have never felt understood and now I do, I should be happy, right? I am but I’m not and therein lies the problem, the joy of feeling connected is short-lived and I log off of social media feeling exhausted and frustrated by the whole thing.

Yes, I get support and I feel connected but I also feel overwhelmed ( even when I get more than enough praise), too many comments, too many messages, too much being in the spotlight, it’s unnerving at times and this constant need to be heard takes everything out of me. Because when the notifications go from a flood to a trickle ( and it always does), I need to make the next post that will get even more likes or comments and I have to respond to everyone to ensure my posts stays in everyone’s feed ( that’s how social media works, you don’t interact with others, you disappear) And to make matter’s worse, the social media algorithm buries our posts so that only a few people can see them and we never see the posts from the friends we care about, so we miss 95% of the movie and only get the end credits. And it makes us feel we are being ignored when in reality social media is toying with our emotions and controlling what posts we see, while our mental health deteriorates as a result,  it becomes an obsession to stay relevant.

And if the amount of likes or comments doesn’t bother me, it’s scrolling endlessly through my newsfeed ( again interacting with others so they will continue to see my posts.) I  see nothing but smiling faces, people with stable relationships, better jobs, more money; taking nice vacations, eating really delicious looking meals, more friends, the list goes on. And of course, after scrolling, I tell myself that it’s a lie, people are only posting their best moments ( a greatest hits album of their life, while mine is the b side) and I’m at home in my pajamas eating microwave spaghetti. People are fake on social media, just like they are in real life, so it shouldn’t be a surprise but it certainly feels real while I’m scrolling. And suddenly I’m comparing myself to my friends on Facebook, I’m not good enough or handsome enough or have enough friends, I am perpetually focused on what I don’t have instead of counting the many blessings I do have.

Lately, I have gotten zero joy out of being on social media, it doesn’t matter how many likes or comments or messages I get, nothing can quell my loneliness or frustration, nothing can satisfy me and I am just numb to the whole experience ( aside from the advocacy work I am doing with other advocates, that gives me joy) I feel a sense of anger and resentment at social media as a whole and it’s no longer healthy, even if I am advocating for mental health, being on social media has become counterproductive and it has hurt my creativity as well, my blog has taken a nosedive since all my energy went toward Facebook and Instagram, it’s a shame, really.

I have been logged out of all social media for two days now and while I feel anxious, I also feel relieved that I no longer have to see highlight reels or worry about likes or comments. My only reason for being on social media at this point is watch videos related to mental health that are a part of advocacy, aside from that I am no longer making posts of my own, I am no longer scrolling, I am taking an extended hiatus from social media, it is the only way to get better and recover from the damaged caused by these addictive platforms.  I can heal, I know I can do it and so can you.

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Flood of healing

Memories flood back but I won’t run away from them, I’ll let them rise to the surface, I can manage the heavy rainfalls, even if it leads me to an ocean of tears. I have a boat and an oar, I can weather the storm.

It’s a distance away but I can see the shore, I can see the beam from the lighthouse guide me to land, shine the light on me, lead me to shore and to safety from this treacherous journey. If I keep moving, I know I’ll get there, even if it takes every bit of strength I have left, I’ll get there, believe that. 🚤 🌊

Facing the past

About ten years ago, I had just created a Facebook account and I only had a few friends ( about 10 or 15 people from work and that was it) and I rarely talked to them online. Suddenly I got a friend request from some people in my past and I hadn’t spoken to them in a very long time. I accepted the request and I found myself adding everyone I knew from my childhood and I realized, they weren’t kids anymore, they were adults with families of their own, living their own lives, it made sense logically but not emotionally, like I wanted them to be same as I left them all those years ago. I felt inadequate because I was still struggling with disabilities and mental health issues, I thought back to how I always compared myself negatively to them, the memories flooded backed.

I added people I knew from 12 steps and a lot them were people that I didn’t want to think about ( I had a terrible experience being there) but I added them because I curious to see how their lives turned out and maybe we could reconnect in a positive way. I could feel my anxiety rise and as I saw these long-forgotten faces, I thought to myself “Would they accept me? What would I say to them?” I knew that I had to come to terms with the past that I had tried to bury in my own mind, I wasn’t ready.

I felt scared in front of my computer, knots in my stomach, I got comments and messages from all these people asking how I was after such a long time, it may have meant little to them but it meant a whole lot to me, I actually felt my whole world crashing on me in instant. I messaged a woman I barely knew in 12 steps but she was happy to hear from me, I think she was a waitress somewhere close to where my grandparents had lived when I was a kid and I talked to another old friend who I had known in an alternative school that I later saw in 12 steps, he was about to get married and I remember him saying at the time that he known my brother ( maybe it was through 12 steps) but he was a good guy and a friend,

As I’m talking to all of these people from the past, I kept thinking “What have I done, I’m scared of them” I was listening to music, it was George Harrison, I just lay on the floor, feeling all these intense emotions coming back to the surface; buried feelings, feelings of fear, sadness, trauma, regret that I missed so much. But in that instant ( I didn’t realize it) I began to heal, I couldn’t run away anymore. I had to face my past, in order to move forward. Fear is not the answer, sometimes we gain strength in our most painful moments.

 

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Last moment of freedom

After the meeting, I’m sitting outside of this church in Alexandria, smoking a cigarette with these people who knew my brother Joe when he was in Sunrise, one of them drove me there, I am not quite why I was there, I guess I was struggling with using and I needed some kind of support. It was one of my first meetings and I was nervous about being there. I had actually just gotten kicked out of school because I had a punched a hole in the wall and they were ready to ship me off to Lynchburg. I was talking with this girl from Sunrise who I had the biggest crush on and I was telling her and this other guy that I was leaving and if I could write to them. They gave me their address but I never wrote to them and they never wrote to me. But I never forget sitting in that church parking lot, enjoy my last moments of freedom with these people I barely knew and I’m sure were never comfortable with me, to begin with.. 😥

Trama, no one cares

A few years later after my brother died, I was online and found a poem that someone I grew up had written about my brother, It kind of pissed me off and I am not sure why I had that reaction maybe because I didn’t want to face what happened and someone had posted this online, an event that affected me so deeply and was so personal.. Years later, I tried to friend them on social media and they never responded and as stupid as it sounds, it fucking stung, really bad. Trauma never leaves you and you can be triggered any second.. Oh, who gives a fuck anyways, 😥

Social media, the anxious trap

I feel really overwhelmed with social media right now, I’m not feeling ignored, in fact, I’m getting love and support than ever and it’s much appreciated, it’s surreal actually to feel like my words and thoughts are resonating with so many people in a such a positive way.

But with all that, it’s tiring, maybe it’s me sharing my brother’s story about suicide live or maybe it’s me posting too much and relying too much on the validation of other’s ( it’s so easy to get hung up on likes and comment and then place your self-worth on that) Maybe it’s seeing post after post where everyone seems happier and more productive than I ( Who isn’t running a group and making live videos these days?) And I know it’s a facade but it still causes anxiety. I also have my own successes but I still can’t help but compare to others in a negative light, I’m never good enough despite my best efforts. Maybe it’s the fact that I never see the posts from the people I care about the most and they never see mine ( or so they say, they most likely skipped through my posts on their newsfeed). Maybe it’s desperately wanting to reconnect with people who don’t want to reconnect with me ( that hurts,)

And some of this is my anxious thinking, it’s hard to tell what is anxiety and reality at times. I just know social media is getting old and very frustrating. I am focusing on my groups at the moment but not on posting or scrolling through my newsfeed ( what an awful waste of time that is), maybe this will help my anxiety. But the worst part is very few people will bother to read this whole post, they make skim it but not absorb the message.

It seems to be that the more connected we are online, the more truly disconnected we are in person, life is funny that way. Sometimes I wish I could throw my computer and phone in the ocean, move to a tropical island and liberate myself from this digital prison, it’s a trap, a crutch and it’s doing harm to us all. 📱😥😒

Permanent scar

I’m playing in the pool and I’m by myself, usually, my friend Michael is here, where is everyone? I hate swimming by myself. Suddenly the whistle blows and they tell everyone to get out of the pool, I wonder why, until I see the dark storm clouds above, storms scare me and I am only two minutes from home but when you’re nine years, it feels like two miles. I’m so anxious.

I grab my towel and my flip flops, I can still smell the chlorine on my body. I run through the shower area, out of the main office and up the pool path, I’m beyond scared at this point, I am running home as fast as I can and suddenly the rain pours on me and the path becomes a waterslide, I slip and fall on my knee, tears fill my eyes, I look at my knee and it has split open. I cried “Mommy, mommy” but she was too far away to hear me. I just lay there in pain, soaked with rain. Eventually, I limped back home and my parents saw my knee and we hurried off to the hospital, there they gave me stitches as my mom held my hand.

About a week later, I was riding my bike and I fell and reopened the wound and had to have a second set of stitches, much to my dismay. Eventually, my knee healed but it remains permanently scarred to this day. Every time I see that huge scar on my knee, its a reminder of a day I won’t forget. Sometimes no matter how much we want it, some wounds will never completely heal. 😥

 

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The silver lining: Gratitude

This self isolation is really difficult on everyone right now including myself, I starting to see the silver lining in these difficult times. I may be stuck home but I am spending quality time with my family and that is helping me cope because I am grateful to have two parents that will always love me and go above and beyond to support me, I love them.

I am taking this time to journal and write poetry, not for the world but for me; so I can cope and make sense of the chaos that surrounds us. Writing is my passion and my saving grace right now. And I hope to look at my writing from this time and see how I grew and became stronger as a result of these challenges.

I am very and isolated like everyone else but I have all this technology, I can call or text people, I can make video calls on zoom, I can post my thoughts and feelings and get immediate feedback. I can do live videos and my friends are so kind that it warms my heart. I love my friends online, they have no idea how they all mean to me and how much I appreciate their support.

I just wanted to add some positivity and mention that things are tough right now but there is always a silver lining, a rainbow after the storm. We will get through this, we in this together,  stay safe and take of yourselves.

 

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Highly sensitive men

I feel that being a highly sensitive person can be really difficult at times and it’s particularly difficult for me as a highly sensitive male. I think and feel deeply but I live in a world that sees men who openly express their feelings as weak, It’s difficult to relate others, I’m highly aware that I am different and I want to meet people who think and feel deeply too but they seem to hard to find ( at least in person). I never related well to other guys so I befriended women because overall, they seemed to accept me more. This inability to relate to men is something I am highly conscious of.

I also find myself being vulnerable in this public space and while some people appreciate it, a part of me feels deep shame because I am too open with my feelings and I regret that, it creates conflict within my heart and mind, it’s tiring to feel so much each day,

I do take solace in my writing and the online community of people who accept me for who I am and allow me to express myself openly and without judgment. Thanks for always being my friends, much love, Dave. 

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We are in this together

Fear overtakes me, I feel alone, stuck between these four walls; with only my anxious thoughts and the flickering lights of technology, my only window to a world that is increasingly shrinking, we are trapped in our cocoons or like a hamster in a cage; spinning that wheel just to stay sane.

Fear makes us on high alert and the answers to this puzzle fade into the contaminated air and the comfort of a hug or a pat on the back is lost, evaporated, just like our hopes.

But is there hope in this seemingly hopeless situation? The ship may be sinking but we are all in this together, holding on for dear life, we can comfort each other, erasing the division among us.

Right now, we are human beings, scared and suffering and we must love and care for each other, be a human life raft for others in the sea of disease and fear.

Love others with all of your might, comfort the sick and the anxious wrecks that are overcome with the uncertainly of an unpredictable world they cannot control.

I love you, sisters and brothers, together we will get to the shore safely if we practice precaution and love. I love you, stay safe and take care of yourselves.

 

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