Dear Social Media, From Someone With Social Anxiety
Dear Social Media,
You terrify me. You see, I have something called social anxiety where every interaction or “performance” in front of anyone makes me sick to my stomach everywhere. These interactions occur in email, phone calls, meetings, small groups, medium groups, large groups, and you: social media.
I tweet less, I rarely tell Facebook what’s on my mind, and it sometimes takes everything in me to hit “share” on Instagram. The thought of having people stare at and analyze my posts and my life causes havoc in my mind. I don’t like being in the spotlight, and that’s exactly what you make happen. You cause me a lot of anxiety.
And yet, I still love you.
When I joined Twitter in 2009, my username wasn’t under my real name, and it was the first time I felt I could be myself on social media. Because I was able to easily connect with people from around the world who shared a common interest with me (I was a fan account), it was easy to fit in and not overthink any of the interactions I had with people. I grew a large following and thought it was fun, but when I switched the account to my real name (because I was 20 and kind of over it), my following only caused me anxiety. I couldn’t deal with “performing” in front of thousands of people as Diane. So I just stopped.
And yet, I still love you. So I let you be my full-time job.
I’m not sure if it’s ironic for someone with social anxiety to be running a company’s social media accounts or if it makes perfect sense. Maybe both. What I find to be difficult with my personal accounts, I find to be so easy with my company’s. Much like my Twitter from 2009, I’m not actually posting under my real identity, which eases the anxiety of performing and interacting with others online.
I’m weirdly obsessed with social media and the way it connects people around the world, since I’ve experienced it firsthand and have created amazing relationships from it. I share content on my personal accounts now because it allows me to feel connected (and so my parents know I’m alive). I’m obsessed with measuring engagement and analytics and growing channels for an organization I’m invested in. It makes me happy. So even though you give me anxiety, you’ve also given me things that are a lot better, and for that reason, I still love you.
Someone with social anxiety
This post originally appeared on Medium.
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