As of late, my social media anxiety has worsened each day. I cannot recollect when this crippling fetish I have to self-sabotage myself began and I can’t recall the last time I felt good about this strange, yet powerful platform that allows us to share every aspect of our lives. The funny, ironic thing is that I am using it right now to post this, and like most of the world’s population, I use it everyday. I am certain that I’m not alone when I say that I feel this overwhelming pressure that I must validate myself, show that I am someone extraordinary and gain some sort of following in order to feel like I am a worthwhile human, if that makes sense? As you can imagine, this has only brought me the utmost stress, self-doubt and crippling anxiety that I almost allowed to infiltrate my every day life. It was to the point where I felt that I had a full-blown social media ‘anxiety disorder’, and I am not one to use diagnosis or label anything, but it was too obvious to ignore and it was/is affecting my overall quality of life. Absolutely nothing, especial social media, deserves to have this much power over my life, or anyone’s for that matter.
I am currently reading the In your-face life-transformative book ‘THE SUBTLE ART OF NOT GIVING A F*CK’ By Mark Manson ( I highly recommend) and there is a chapter, You are not special, dedicated to explaining how as millennials, we are conditioned to think that we must be extra-ordinary to feel like a validated human being. If we feel as though we aren’t fulfilling this expectation, it then leads us to manifest the exact opposite, allowing us to become a victim to our ‘lack of achieving’ or lack of ‘extraordinaire’ when really, we are neither of these two. We are all ordinary, life is ordinary, it is meant to be. It is meant to be simple but that’s not to say that it isn’t beautiful. In fact, it is more beautiful, as we cherish the things that actually mean something and let go of this false sense of entitlement and the need to ‘make it.’ This allows us to begin focusing on the core values that truly ‘validate us’ and not this brainwashed belief that we need to be more than who we already are. We as humans, fear mediocrity.
Social media plays a huge role in feeding this untamed beast. ‘Stand out or fade out.’ We see everyone constantly posting there achievements or we see the polar opposite, tragedy. One extreme to the other, no happy medium. This pressure is one of the many causes, I believe, for the ever-growing mental illness epidemic. There is too much information being created so rapidly and not enough space to digest what is real and what is not. I think the danger now is that there’s no defining line between virtual reality and real-life. We all can’t seem to go a day without sharing our life’s activities on a social media platform, or worse, binge-scrolling through all of the perfectly curated posts on your feed and comparing how mediocre your life is (guilty). Each thumb that clicks the ‘like’ button just triggers that alarm bell “beep beep, you need to be better, do better! Look at this person achieving their wildest dreams, talking about how #blessed they are with there dream job that enables them to live freely and luxuriously, whilst sipping on margaritas and sun baking in the Bahamas.” Okay, maybe not that extreme, but you get the point!
I once thought of social media as a fun little way to interact with people and post snippets of everyday life activities here and there, but being a singer, it soon became a way to ‘get out there’ and share my sporadic YouTube videos and gig info, not that I had many, due to my many other toxic attachments to self sabotage, but thats a whole other story! ( I touch on one of these blockages in my post ‘As I listened to my pain, out came the infamous perfection song’).
As the years have rolled on, it has become this unhealthy obsession of trying to ‘get my talent out there’ and ‘get a following or you’ll never make it.’ This statement, I cannot take anymore. WHAT EVEN IS ‘MAKE IT?’ I certainly do not know and who does? Who are the ones to say what is right or wrong? Apparently these days it means something like having a couple hundred ‘k’ followers, or a good picture with the right amount of space, angle & lighting or the perfect amount of hashtags. Oh and don’t forget to post it at the right time of day, otherwise you may as well just throw that perfectly, curated post down the drain and that would be an absolute reputational disaster! Lucky for me, I can’t even bench the 600 mark of followers and I probably never will, because of my dis-functional relationship with this millennial phenomenon and I think deep down, I don’t want too. I think this conflict within myself regarding social media is possibly the root of all of this angst. I am trying to fit into this new age expectation box but my core values want otherwise. Like I mentioned in one of my previous blogs, I am an odd, oblong shape trying to fit into a square. I know I sound like a grandma (a 25 year old one), ranting about the new age and blah blah but I am simply expressing my built up anxiety that I have allowed to take over, due to social media and I am certain that I am not alone in this rant. Don’t get me wrong, I think it has incredible benefits, if your a business, and I have witnessed loved ones experience these milestones but when it’s personal, maybe not so much. It could just be that I am going about it incorrectly and my negative brain has allowed the right environment to develop a toxic relationship with it, but I also do notice and hear of it’s negative affects on our society today.
This immense pressure that I feel to use this platform as a way of exploiting my creativity, has in contrast, almost killed my creativity. In the last three years, I stopped singing, gigging, writing, playing and alas, living. At one point in 2015, I was bed-ridden for almost four months, which is more like ten years in the prison of the mind. I felt like the biggest failure, like I was nothing. I would think “who even am I?” and “why am I even here?” I was/am a young woman with a dream and with what I believe to be, a valuable talent but I was feeling so incapable of ‘making something of myself.’ I felt incapable of anything and so, I decided to take the plunge in the opposite direction and completely surrender to my victim mentality, which I have only just recently identified through the help of the above mentioned book! (THE SUBTLE ART OF NOT GIVING A F*CK.)
I am not saying that social media has been the sole reason for my crippling anxiety over the past few years but I have realised it has been one of the major triggers and so help me, I will never allow it to do that to me again. There is no way I am letting a virtual reality control my existence and stop me from seeing the true beauty and true reality of this life. F*ck having followers (even though it would be nice) and f*ck getting unfollowed. In the end, it isn’t a reflection of you. It is probably a business tactic or you just may not resonate with someones life or interests anymore and to be honest they probably don’t resonate with yours either and that is okay. It’s time to start fine-tuning what we should really be giving a f*ck about and I just don’t think social media makes the cut.
So for now, I can say with confidence, that I am a valid human with or without a social media following and so are you.
In the fantastic words of Mark Manson: (yep, that flippin’ great book again),
“You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon. And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of fucks to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a fuck about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice – well, then you’re going to get fucked.”
As always, sending so much love, light & healing into the world,
Photo Courtesy: http://real-agenda.com/instagram-largest-anxiety-factory/