It may seem ridiculous to write a blog, a form of social media, about how social media is making me ill, but god. Even a blog feels curiously longform now; a lot of thought had to be put into this, a lot of thought by my standards lately.
So social media is making me ill, because I’m an approval addict.
Well, that’s only part of it because that didn’t happen in a vacuum. I have had diagnosed clinical depression for many years, and I am taking treatment for it. Except I struggle with self hatred very badly. I can’t seem to get it to go away. So I’ve been seeking out the approval of others to try and hide my feelings of despair at what a terrible person I am. Alas, this only works for a while then I need MORE MORE TELL ME MY SHIRT IS NICE TELL ME I’M FUNNY TELL ME MY LIFE CHOICES ARE ACCEPTABLE PLEASE ARGH.
A medium which is addictive precisely because it can provide approval and instant gratification so easily is a really bad place for someone like that. Somewhere where you can ask hundreds of people for their approval at a time is a really bad place for someone like that. Somewhere where you won’t get the approval of all those hundreds of people because that’s just human nature but oh dear god it hurts why don’t they like me… is a really bad place for someone like that.
I spend all my time desperate for people to like me. People who I’ve known for years, people I’ve just met, friends of friends, complete strangers. By like me I don’t even mean be really nice to me, I just mean “don’t hate me”. Because the worst, stupidest part of approval addiction is that you think people’s default reaction to you SHOULD be hate. They SHOULD dislike you, because you’re really kind of awful.
But if other people liked you, maybe you’d be better, right? Maybe if you ran all your life choices past them, you’d never get them wrong. Maybe if you told them your feelings you’d learn whether or not those were wrong too.
Ultimately I live my life trying to work out what will get the most approval from other people. I lay out all my feelings so that, my mind tells me, I can see if other people think they are valid. Regardless of what I might think or what I might want because I couldn’t be disapproved of, I couldn’t.
I can’t deal with it any more. I am so obsessed with getting approval that people don’t approve of it. That’s the thing that’s pissing people off. I try too hard. I basically say “please like me” and that usually has the opposite effect to the one you’re hoping for.
I’ve always tried to be open and honest about my life when I’m online, because the more people who do, bucking the trend of only presenting the good side of your world, the better. It lets people know that life isn’t, and can’t be perfect. But I still berate myself for not being perfect, making me a hypocrite.
I’m on holiday right now, and I purposely put my phone away a lot. It made it obvious how much better I felt when I wasn’t looking for 140 character chunks of approval.
There are other problems I’ve been having; terrible attention span, tendency to check twitter when I shouldn’t be, not blocking people when I should have, people being horrible about how I look… The main problem remains my inability to be enough without this approval.
I’m staying on Facebook because I need it to find out when I’m doing roller derby stuff, as I recently signed up to be a non-skating official and I really want to make a go of that. I joined a gym recently and I want to keep going there. I would, ideally, love to write again, longform. I’d like to get lost in things the way I used to.
I want to do things without having to think about what everyone else might say about them. With social media I don’t think that’s possible.
I have to let go and be me. I’m not going off the grid – like I say, you’ll be able to get hold of me on Facebook, and I’ll check in on Tumblr, but I probably won’t tell you what I’ve been up to. And I won’t be getting into debates because that’s a world of hurt right there. Plus a bunch of friends have my number and email.
I’ll be around-ish but I’ll be living my life a lot more quietly. And hopefully I’ll learn that my own approval is enough. That I am enough.