I just realized why social media can be so draining. I’ve been kidding myself that the only harm of spending too much time online is that it’s a colossal time waster and gateway to procrastination and avoidance. I just realized the deeper harm lurking beneath the surface.
The whole Facebook experience is an emotional minefield and I didn’t even know it.
Every time I login and there’s no personal message I die a little. If a cherished post isn’t liked or even noticed it’s a letdown. If others hijack a comment stream I feel steamrollered. If 92 people in a private group have responded to a comment I’m overwhelmed and completely incapable of joining the fray even if I want to. Then I feel irrelevant and disengaged. I think, Why am I even a member of this group if I’m not contributing?
And then there’s the endless worry about privacy, even if it’s not me who is doing the worrying. Who can avoid even peripherally noticing the anxious dialogues of others? The countless complaints about updates are wearying, inane game invitations are aggravating, being unfriended by actual friends is stinging, the photos of others with charmed lives full of exotic travel and perfect relationships are annihilating, and all of this emotional carnage happens so fast it’s barely noticed.
With memories from an undiagnosed ADHD childhood of being publicly humiliated, easily embarrassed, and constantly mortified by one social gaffe after another, my pre-diagnosis years might aptly have been called, 50 Shades of Red – Living and Blushing in Social La-La Land. Losing friends in a nanosecond without knowing why, feeling like the family pariah, surely all that has been left behind?
Yet here’s Facebook: a minefield of opportunities to socially bomb. Who will flame me? Who will call me out? Who will prove me wrong? Who will misinterpret my message? Who will I offend? The list of potential faux pas is limitless.
Little did I know I’d been logging in with not just a password, but with baggage from a hypersensitive past. I need a psychological firewall to keep me from going down in flames.
Or a gateway app to prevent successful login until I’ve been psychologically screened and prepared. It would remind me that I’m a self-assured, intelligent adult, not a kid waiting to be liked or approved or chosen for the team.
As an HSP (highly sensitive person) with emotional ADHD baggage I think I’ll rethink my relationship with social media, or any place online where I feel exposed, judged, and measured. I’m going to remind myself that the only approval that counts is my own.
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