It’s no secret I suffer from social anxiety. I’ve written about it before. I wrote about how it affected my GRL experience just two weeks ago. Because of my social anxiety I spend a lot of time in self-reflection. This is a huge part of anxiety. We over analyze situations to death. Do you remember five years ago where you said that one thing to a stranger in the grocery store and they gave you a funny look? No? I do. Or maybe when you said something to your friend and their reaction seemed a little off. These are the moments I go over and over in my head. I pay attention, too much attention to social interaction and I agonize over it. But not all of it. When you have social anxiety your brain picks the most random things to relive and remember. It plays these random ass meaningless moments over and over in the middle of the night trying to give them some context where there is none. Tiny insignificant moments we over analyze and recreate in our heads until we’ve come up with about five hundred ways we should have done better, and then we torture ourselves. And I rationally know, when I’m awake and at my best those things don’t matter, but trying to explain this to myself at two in the morning when I can’t sleep is nearly impossible. Brains are fucked up things. And some times not entirely rational.
I think social media has exacerbated this part of my brain and I know I’m not alone. We can’t live our lives for likes and comments as much as we can’t compare our reality to what other people post on the internet. But more still, social media gives us a computer to hide behind and so many people say things they would never say to someone’s face, and it gives us no context. No facial cues to read, no tone of voice to clue us in to if someone is joking, serious, mad or happy when they say something. It’s easier to take things to the extreme. And for people who already over analyze social situations there probably isn’t much worse than an ambiguous comment on social media and not enough context.
I have found ways to cope with this part of my brain. I listen to a lot of podcasts and audio books to block out the needless thinking. I read a lot. I write a lot, but I wanted more. So I’ve been experimenting with putting my phone down for long periods of time this summer and into the fall, and if you know me and my usual phone habits, my phone is always in my hand. Over the last few months I’ve been taking time away. Some days go well, and some days are less successful. I’m happier the days I am on my phone less. Which sounds insane. This thing gives me constant social interaction with people who understand me, and yet, I think my mind needs more peace. More quiet. More time to be creative. More time to focus 100% of my attention on my kids. I took facebook and messenger as well as a few other apps off my phone for a month. I’m actually sad I put them back on my phone for GRL because they are still there and drew me back in.
I know social media is a big part of my job, and I don’t hate it for those reasons. But maybe less is more. I don’t want to keep looking at facebook instead of writing. Writing is so much more fulfilling, and facebook amps my anxiety because of politics. I know I need to be more involved in politics, but not as a keyboard warrior posting into the void with people who generally agree with me. I need to take the next step with my social anxiety and start working on campaigns and the causes that matter to me. I want to live my life in real time. Not on a social site.
N and I have been talking about buying a farm for a long time, changing our entire lifestyle. Simplifying things. And I think all these things have pressed me in that direction. Unplug. Slow down. Realize what the important things in life are, what’s right in front of you.
Has any one ever experimented with giving themselves a set hour and time for social media? Like you can be on facebook from 7pm to 8pm answer things, comment, talk to friends and then after that turn it back off. Do you feel like you miss a lot? Let me know in the comments.
If you have any questions I will be answering them periodically on my blog.
Coming early 2019: Speak No Evil