Stories for Social: Media or Anxiety?

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Smiles. Sunsets. Beaches. Booze. Besties. Baes.

We all filter ourselves. We constantly put up the best version of ourselves on social media. To show what a great time we are having. Even if we are having one of the worst times of our lives.

After reading about how social media can bring about feelings of loneliness and isolation, I took a break. A much needed break from social media. Part of the reason being I have a terrible habit of living in a world of comparison. Quite frequently, I compare my life to others. I measure myself against somebody else’s version of success.

But all I wound up with was a large amount of social anxiety and regret.

So, I took all social media off my phone, Twitter, Insta, Snapchat, Facebook, Tumblr, LinkedIn, all of it.

And here is what I found.

For the first few days, I felt lighter, almost like being on an adventure, or on the run, where nobody could find you if you didn’t want them to. There was a freedom that was synonymous with a shopping spree with no budget. I could do or say what I want, without having to think about the filter or how it would be received.

The next week went by and that lightness seemed to fade. What was once freedom, then slowly turned to ignorance. Not knowing what my friends were doing, or putting on their feeds, Not being aware of what was trending and if I had an opinion about it, or a discussion I wanted to join.

And so I took another break. This time, an internal one. What was the anxiety that I was feeling, whilst trying to get rid of my previous anxiety. Why was FOMO the main tagline of my brain’s newsletter? But also, why did I feel such extreme emotions that weighed me down so fervently?

After journaling about it, and spending some time looking inward, I found one major conclusion.

It is not the story everyone else is telling or showing on their Instas or FB Lives. It is not the snaps of beaches and besties that I constantly miss out on. The real story is the one I tell myself. This unbearable story of how much better everyone else’s lives are than my own.

Instead of seeing what I am not doing, and missing out on what others are, I decided to change my tune. Please note; this is easier said than done. Quite frequently, in movie montages, we see our heroes and heroines transforming in a matter of minutes. From working out to getting makeovers; this was definitely NOT the case for me.

It was a series of long writing sessions in cafes and coffee shops. It was discussions with mentors, friends, and loved ones. But mostly it was a conversation with myself to really listen to what I needed. The time off Social Media allowed me to focus on parts of myself that I often neglect. It also allowed me to get more creative with projects and items I have been wanting to do for awhile.

But most importantly, it made me realize the only narrative to pay close attention to, was my own. Changing my mind (again easier said than done) was a long process. I allowed myself to be free to be me. Which is something I have struggled with greatly. Whenever my mental health is in turmoil, quite frequently, the first thing I do, is berate myself for not having better brain chemistry. Not being able to pull myself out of it. Not forgiving myself for being ungrateful and selfish. 📷

Thus, spiraling further into a deeper, darker place.

However, by taking a preemptive step to remove myself from social media, I did something I hadn’t done in a long time. I put myself first. This is something I find very difficult to do. And yet, when I allowed myself to do it. I found my ‘recovery’ time to be faster and the process less self-berating, therefore, less painful.

I am not insinuating that anyone take themselves off social media. ( As currently, I have made a triumphant return to my 68 followers). Nor do I think that being off social media is a ‘cure’ by any means for those struggling with anxiety, depression or any other mental illness. I do advocate that for those struggling, it is ok to put yourself and your needs first, whatever they might be. And to be an advocate for yourself and to operate from a place self compassion.

If this is something you struggle with and ever need a friend, or someone to continue the conversation then please feel free to contact me at any of the links below.

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