This post will highlight my general social anxiety and how it turns me off to feelings of connectedness through technology. In general, most people my generation love to connect through social media or technology because it is easy. I too, enjoy being able to connect with people with convenience and ease (especially when I am busy). However, my experience with this (through the lens of my social anxiety) looks like this:
I love the idea of having all of my friends in one place when I want to shout something out to them or shoot of details to a plan. But it feels awkward to have chain of random thoughts pieced together throughout the day especially when I am in front of a classroom full of students. I go through this weird feeling of guilt knowing that most likely the sender knows I saw their text/yet I decided to ignore it. Most of the time, I really do just see it in passing, tell myself I’ll respond later, then forget to respond. For this reason too, I have all of my group texts muted. I actually have my phone on silent mode ALL THE TIME because the notifications make me jump (even on vibrate). So, even seeing my phone light up with constant notifications of text messages gives me anxiety because my brain sees it as an emergency that I need to address right away.
Text Messages (in general):
My husband and I rarely text. When we do, it’s usually because I need to know something and occasionally, when we fight and I get anxious. In which case, I fire off rapid alerts to his phone (sometimes in the form of the devil emoji) hoping to get a response to alleviate the panic of “HE’S NOT RESPONDING HE MUST WANT TO LEAVE ME!” (Just Kidding! Who does that???…..). In reality, just as much as I hate feeling required to answer to him, I know he hates having to answer to me. I always prefer sharing my thoughts with him in person about the things that happen than via text. To be honest, I rather hate most conversations over text messages. I would much rather prefer to schedule a time to hang out and talk or spend face-to-face time with someone. First, because I usually don’t have much idle time to sit around and think about what to write back and secondly because what if something comes off as bitchy on accident?
I much prefer Instagram to Facebook because I enjoy taking pictures and seeing pictures. I use Facebook and Instagram as my end of the day treat, it’s like popping candies into my mouth going through and liking everything/commenting on some things. I mainly like to see what my friends are up to and use it as a way to see what they are most excited about or passionate about in the moment (because that’s what most normal people share about). I also follow comedic people (for entertainment) and teachers that I aspire to one day be like. I myself, like to share about my adventures with my husband/ love for food or nature/ and classroom ongoings. But my one rule for both is, I will not follow anyone whose posts make me feel like shit. No, seeing everyone getting married/popping out babies/popping out six-pack abs/traveling/living their dreams does not make me feel like shit. In fact (especially at this time in my life) it gives me hope that other people are taking the plunge into committing their lives to happiness and inspires me to do the same. However, seeing other people bring up only past memories/complain about things/brag about things that are not real accomplishments makes me upset. Because, there is more to life than living in the past/everybody goes through painful or uncomfortable experiences/ and the last one, duh. So, I just unfollow or scroll quickly past those kinds of people and flood my feed with all of the babies/rainbows/couples/body inspiration/a** kicking mother effers out there.
So, in the big picture, my thoughts are: If someone’s interactions with me via technology outweigh their interactions with me in person, I see them as disingenuous. The exception is if they live far away from me, in which case, I tend to value interactions we hold through social media/technology. The other exception is if someone has undergone or are going through a life changing event and requires the efforts and energy to adjust to those things. I guess these are my personal feelings and if I’m truly accepting of all humans (with compassion) I can grow to accept everyone (still trying). In an attempt to stay grounded, however, I still feel that the people I feel most connected with, are the ones who I spend the most time having conversations with. Like true conversations and not an endless exchange of banter and inside jokes (although, these can be fun). Ever since I have realized I wanted more in-person connectedness, I’ve seen my friendships with people who make the effort become stronger. I hope to continue navigating real life conversations and being mindful of technology’s illusion to connectedness.