Quitting facebook to curb my anxiety
I deleted my facebook for the second time in five years and I‘m not coming back this time.
I should prefix this by saying I am a naturally anxious person. I second-guess all interactions with others, I run a fine tooth-comb to find my every mistake and failure— little or small, and I am a long suffering perfectionist trying to reconcile myself to my mediocrity.
Facebook’s platform of constant interaction and the high visibility of everyone’s great life moments coupled with the invisibility of their points of suffering had brewed the perfect storm to stir my anxiety to a point of no return.
I always knew my social skills weren’t exceptional. Yet I saw and compared myself to friends’ posts where they were, seemingly efforlessly, going out to clubs, working in great jobs, having great relationships and maintaining cordiality with their families. I found myself constantly reminded of things I didn’t have, things that would never bother me otherwise. A constant barrage of pictures of happy people made me miserable.
It was as if facebook was a giant strobe light that was shone on me at full power, and there I was, warts and deep flaws and all. I felt miserable.
These were my friends, lovely people who didn’t deserve how I was feeling about their happiness. I felt like a terrible person.
I am one of those unfortunate people whose relatives are also on facebook. I cannot describe how it feels to get facebook messages from cousins you haven’t talked to in years. Being an introvert who is very good at faking being an extrovert, I had perfected the art of chit chat over digital platforms. Imagine how draining small talk during christmas time is, and multiply it by 365 days. That was me — and I hated it. So I took the plunge and pressed delete.
It isn’t logical to let others happiness affect me in this way, but social anxiety is the harshest critic and the most unrelenting spin doctor.
I don’t know if that many people feel this way, but I do. I recognised in a fit of clarity that I didn’t have to put myself through it.
So I chose to delete the five years of carefully worded posts and erratic collection of photos that are still no doubt collecting dust on a facebook server somewhere in China. I hope family members will understand that I like having distance from them. It isn’t because I don’t love them. It did it because my brain is too noisy and I have to take care of myself.
So what have I done instead of endlessly scrolling through vacation photos and passive aggressively ‘liking’ political opinions? Well, I’ve started reading more — novels, opinion pieces, articles, you name it. I’ve started writing more because my brain has quietened down a bit and I can keep my focus long enough to write a full paragraph. I followed the fallout of the US election last week from a safe distance, and thus my reaction, while disappointed, was not as visceral and amplified as a lot of my friends on facebook apparently were (according to my good facebook-spy friend I met in real life, that is).
I’ve begun to enjoy being mysterious about my whereabouts and my opinions, because it means when I meet friends and family, I don’t have too many predisposed opinions about them and they don’t have the same regarding me.
I’m enjoying the wilderness.