This is a continuing problem for me, a toxic behavior, maybe even an addiction. It eats my time, increases my anxiety, and encourages me to censor myself. A while back I did an experiment where I stopped using Facebook for several months. I missed it horribly for a while, however after a few weeks I found that my life without it was better. I was able to spend more time doing the things I enjoy and working towards my goals, while also not constantly questioning my value to other people.
Since then I slowly started using it again. A few days ago I realized I am checking it every few minutes. I am fighting the urge to check it now, while writing this. It is especially hard in the hours after I post something. I poke the icon on my phone over and over, opening it and closing it, holding my breath in anticipation of likes or comments. If no one replies, I start questioning the worth of my words and thought, dwelling on isolation, lack of human connection, and my failures. I wonder what I have done to make my “friends” dislike and ostracize me.
Social media has made me confused about the entire concept of “friends”. The majority of the people I interact with on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are not my friends. They are people I met at burns or cons. They are people who know people that I know. I only interact with a few people in real life, and those seldom, aside from the one who lives with me.
Yet I want these near strangers to like me. I want them to be interested in what I’m doing, to reply, to ask questions, to debate the issues of the day with me. I want them to be proud of me, to encourage me. I want them to interact with me in ways that I don’t often get in real life and I’m not sure I would like if I did. I want them to be the television version of family and friends. I somehow want the people on the other end of the tubes to give structure and purpose to my life.
Without social media, when I am by myself, I am alone. Which is not a bad thing at all; I do my best work alone. I have spent the vast majority of my hours alone and I like it that way. With social media I’m lonely. Reading other people’s posts, seeing their pictures, reminds me that humans are supposed to be social animals and that I am therefore failing at that aspect of being human.
Recent articles and studies criticizing Facebook and other social media let me know I’m not alone. Other people are feeling the same way, having their lives and self esteem sucked into the always hungry maw of social media.
Today I am deleting Facebook from my phone. This will not stop me from checking it. . I will still be able to check it on my desktop to look for background acting jobs and keep up with my friends. I am mostly home all day. What it will do is stop me from checking it in bed, while I am taking a bath, while I am out having dinner with real life people or when I am outside in my garden. This is a step in the right direction.