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September 30, 2009

Social Group Mediums

I've had to take a step back from a few social sites because I was too dependent on the social aspect of them.

As someone with social anxiety, they became a crutch for me and I have to remind myself I can't depend on Twitter, or any other social website, for my "fix". While, it does in a way help with my social anxiety by not keeping me so isolated, and I do make new "friends", these friendships are not "real".

Meaning, I can't depend on these "friends" to be friends. Yes, they show concern, they make supportive or sympathetic noises at the appropriate moments, but these are not "real" people. These are names and faces through a digital screen. Nothing will, nor should, replace having a friend or friends that are flesh and blood. Nothing should ever replace the tangible.

It was getting to the point where I was feeling ignored. When I posted something and those I counted on to be a friend DIDN'T comment back, it hurt. When it continued, I began to second guess myself. Did I maybe say something wrong? Did I not say something when I should have? Did I zig when I should have zagged? Or maybe it was because I'm not the same social class as they are. Maybe my lack of brain/beauty/money/time...or maybe because I'm married and have a child is what makes them withdraw from me?

When it comes down to losing sleep and worrying, unable to eat...breaking out into tears, because I lost "friends" somewhere, then something's wrong.

It had become a crutch, a distraction, and it had to stop.

Before people get offended and drop me from their lists, I want to make something quite clear. None of this is a personal attack at anyone. Well, except at myself, really.

Just because I list you as a friend and you return the favor, it doesn't mean we're best buds and I have to remember that. You include me in your life through a digital medium. You are not inviting me into your home, you're not inviting me to drop by, swim in your pool, have coffee, or have dinner. I shouldn't feel slighted if there's no invite to that slumber party/girls' night out/chick flick/gossip fest.

We share things in common and we share our experiences through a screen and a keyboard. No where in this common agreement did you say "Call me and we'll do lunch", or "I'll be there for you", or "If you need a kidney"...

It's a hard lesson to learn, and an eye opener. It's terrifying for those of us who suffer from depression and social anxiety. Often times, these go hand in hand with lack of self confidence and self esteem, and this lesson tears at what little we do have, shredding us until we're so vulnerable and sensitive that we have to retreat into ourselves in order to regroup. Often times we don't have the means, or support in which to seek help. We have to build those walls back up, one brick at a time, alone.

On the other hand, I understand people have to protect themselves. I don't blame people who keep themselves back, offering only a digital connection. Hell, I have "friends" who're famous. Successful authors, published, rising stars. I understand they can't be there as a friend, or offer any support or advice in any way. We have to protect ourselves in whatever way we can.

Scary, isn't it, that the internet is suppose to open the world, make the world a smaller place, and yet we have to isolate ourselves, protect ourselves even more.


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