This was going to be a tweet--it ran away from me.
Managing your social spaces, such as Twitter, and how often you utilize those spaces—is about your own self-care and mental health choices.
I think, maybe some of us forget how much energy and time it really takes to manage social media and our internet friendships. Shit can get exhausting (like any maintenance). We see people all the time announcing a social media break. My best friend quit social media altogether. Just said "Fuck this shit" and deleted it all. Sometimes we need the distance from all the ones and zeros to get centered and remember how to function in the real.
More importantly…that shit is okay to do. And we should all do it from time to time. Stepping back and realigning with our sense of self, with work, with WRITING, to create, to play with our kids, to sit quietly in the grass—it really doesn’t matter what you do, but taking time to be present is important.
That being said, some people find a great comfort in their social media social circles. I do. I found some amazing humans online. Many of whom I talk to almost every day. Even on the phone! *GASP!*
It’s 2020, and in this day and age the boundaries and definitions of relationships are constantly being expanded. Social media allows us to reach people all over the globe and interact with them at any given moment. Instant satisfaction to fulfill our impatient and desperate little black hearts.
It is easy to get swept up in it all. In your real life, you may feel alone and bitter, out of place, like you’re suffocating in your aloneness. But online, on social media, you find other people like you. They have the same interests, the same quirks, enjoy the same stories. Whatever it is that you’ve felt isolated in.
Social media can offer a light in the dark. A friendly hand from a not-quite stranger that lifts you up and helps you to see yourself a little better, or at the very least, make you not feel like such a goddamn anomaly.
Then there are the times when it starts to become too much. When life requires sacrifice. When the growing demand of social media stops being an escape or a relief from the real and slips into becoming an exhausting third child.
Something happened. A switch was flipped. And now what was maintaining or even filling your cup, drains it. Some spaces—some interactions—some people—are merely taking from a tapped-out source.
I’ve been pretty tapped-out lately.
So. Something that needs to be said on that:
If I choose to leave environments or engage less, it is for my own reasons. My life is undergoing massive changes and challenges right now. Maintaining breath can feel daunting at times.
In fact, many of us are experiencing life-altering or high pressure situations. Things like dealing with school, work, unemployment, depression, divorce, family chaos, death, illness, anxiety, the list is literally endless. And how we choose to give from our cups is not up for debate. Certainly, leaving a space is not an attack on anyone else. It’s a personal decision. For self.
If you find yourself feeling attacked or abandoned, or neglected, because your social media social network has pieced-off in some way…Stop and breathe and ask yourself if someone leaving a group or not playing tag games every time is all about you or them and what their energy levels are permitting.
For me, some days are clearer. Some days it feels like my head is being held underwater and doing anything but hitting ‘like’ on something I’m tagged in is more than I can deal with.
The best anyone can do, should our social media friends (yes, they are real friends) pull away or go ghostly, is to check on them. Offer…empathy. Not anger. Not words about being hurt by a perceived sudden quiet spell or slip into the shadows. It’s truly not always about you (even if anxiety--or narcissism--may try to say otherwise). And if this ghostly friend is suffering from a bout of depression, that goes double. People suffering from depression do not owe an apology for their depression. Saying someone suffering from depression owes you a check-in…implies a massive failure to understand how depression works.
Some of the best DMs that I have gotten on Twitter have been from regular interactions who notice something seems off. They hit up my inbox with a message of friendly assurance and casual concern. Stating an observed lack in posting, reply, that the phrasing in some threads seemed off-character. Isn't that the friendly thing to do? You notice when people you care about, or just regularly interact with, shift in behavior. And you point out this shift, "Hey, I saw [this] in your reply, I don't know what is going on over there, but I hope you're okay, and I am here if you need someone to talk to."
Honestly, when I get messages like this, it really makes me feel seen, validated, and cared for. Cup fills.
On the contrary, getting a message like: "Hey, you're not around anymore and that upsets me. You can't just leave like this. Friends don't do that."
It's blaming. It's draining. Cup empties.
We all have lives. We all have struggles that stay on our side of the screen. Behind closed doors. Locked and buried deep inside ourselves where light cannot reach.
We all have to make choices that are healthiest for ourselves over appeasing everyone else.
This is a lesson that has taken me a lifetime to learn. I grew up being taught that “No” is a dirty word. That I had no control and no ownership over myself, my future, or my surroundings. This “lesson” wrought its ruins in a people-pleasing, afraid-to-say-no little girl. One that I refuse to ever be again (even though sometimes I do still struggle with this).
Does that mean I will be the opposite and fall to becoming uncaring for the feelings of others? Not at all. The two are not one and the same. Merely, I have learned that there are places and situations that are not where I should be for whatever reasons. And when presented with this realization, I will remove myself.
Aside from being polite—don’t be a dick—no one owes anyone their limited energy nor are they required to remain in places that they don’t have the energy to be in.
I know humanity can often have trouble with empathy and think that the actions of others are all about themselves. But it’s not. Some things are just personal.
Explanations do not always need to be given.
Because frankly, the old cliche’ is right—“It’s not you, it’s me.”
And “me” is important too.
Of course, there is an addendum to be added.
Relationships come in varying degrees. This post is about casual friendships and social media spaces. It is up to you to understand your relationships, yourself, and the people you are interacting with to know what appropriate navigational methods should be appropriate. Because relationships, like your sweet little self, are like snowflakes, and no two function or look the same.
Also, if you are suffering from depression and need help, you are not alone. The darkness just blots out the rest of us.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: