Social Anxiety on Social Media


#22

Hi THG,

It did feel quite huge at first – I think I worried everyone would think I was making some enormous statement for attention, or trying to be deliberately different or something. I actually deactivated/activated again for a while before finally doing it for good (nearly 2 years now!) Each time I went back on it began to feel more meaningless to me, and somehow slowly it lost its allure. I used to spend hours worrying about every aspect of it, it was exhausting. I did try for a while to treat it as a learning space for SA, but I just found it too hard. Facebook is nothing like real life!

I have lost connections with a few people, but this is natural in life. You won’t ever lose the people who really matter. In fact it helped me to see who really mattered…I’ve made new friends through other things too. I think it completely comes down to knowing yourself, and how you work. It just isnt the right space for me.

I also had a similar thing to you in that lots of people from my past kept adding me. I think that can make it quite difficult to evolve as a person. My recovery has meant making a lot of changes and new choices, in all areas of my life, and I’ve needed to look really carefully at what is positive and negative for me, and where I spend my energy. Facebook was only part of the decision.

Just think in real life, if people from your past kept calling round uninvited to your house for a “Hello!” you’d probably feel pretty weird about it – I don’t see why we’re all supposed to feel fine about that online! As I say, it really depends on who you are and how you work as a person. It is true you can just have a profile and not update, and use privacy settings.

I think a good thing is to make decisions from a calm place, and decide how you will do it. Looks like you’ve taken a good amount of time thinking about it, and sounds like you know what it is you want/need to do. You also reserve the right to change your mind!

I can only say that for me it’s been really positive! Hope that’s helpful!


#23

Hi dwi, I think like you said I have to come to a place where I feel comfortable to reflect myself on Facebook. The problem I have is coming to terms with my anxious past which I deeply feel gets reflected on Facebook. I am also so insecure of the fact that I never had a really social life and feel like Facebook is not for me in that regard. Its hard as I have many acquaintances and Friends that I am on good terms with on Facebook but the fact that I feel I don’t and never had much of an engaging life with really close friends makes me really insecure about reflecting myself on Facebook. I consequently worry sooo much of people judging me for adding a second profile pic after years. I feel that it reveals something about my past and that it reveals I hid from putting myself out there. I am desperate to solve this problem because I feel stranded. I am constantly debating whether I should change my profile pic or not or just remove my account. It’s preventing me from moving forward with school and other duties in my life as I am stuck on handling this issue. I feel like I can’t move forward unless I have this problem solved before I find it too late. Everyday the pressure just seems to increase and increase. What do you think is best I do in my case as I am starting to get so much anxiety just to log into my account?


#24

Hi Kittycath,
Thanks for the valuable insight.


#25

Hi thirtyeight,
Thanks for the help as well.


#26

You’re welcome. I hope you will some day get to the point where you can stop worrying about these sorts of things. People aren’t going to judge you for adding a second profile pic after years.

And even if they did, so what? You have the right to decide how to lead your life. You have the right to change, enhance, or develop your life in any way you decide.


#27

Thanks @thirtyeight

The best solution to this problem is to osa, once you start feeling more confident in general you will certainly feel more confident on social media too, also the sessions about “letting go the negative past” and “being in the present moment” from the audio series will be very helpful. if you listen to those sessions regularly in a relaxed state and allow it to sink inside the subconscious mind it will be very effective, the key is to believe those ideas, you need to believe generally that no matter how anxious you feel sometimes, you will overcome sa, this belief is very important, it will keep you motivated.

This is a typical ANT, rather its an attitude, source of millions of ANTS, the fear of others judging is central to sa, its called “mind reading” this is what keeps the cycles of sa going. We keep worrying about what others might be thinking about us, in this process we also worry about their “undisclosed opinions” and this makes us feel very vulnerable. The fear of others judging must be overcome, overcoming this fear is loosely equivalent to overcoming social anxiety. osa is impossible as long as we are stuck with this irrational fear.

Iike i said before you need to make a calculated decision about whether you want to be on fb or not, it will be difficult to move forward unless you make that decision. Once the decision is made you will be able to focus all your energy and resources at osa. dont think about osa as an all or nothing deal, its “relative” you need to reach a certain minimum level of social confidence to be able to solve these immediate problems, fb included once you are there you will be in a superior position in dealing with sa. Think like this, you dont have to osa completely at first, first you need to get out of its domination, consider this metaphor, you need to stand up and dust your clothes and make sa bite the dust! this is the first step.


#28

I see. So I guess I should wait until I am more comfortable with my life and with my social anxiety before I get active on social media regardless of how it looks and regardless of how distant I had been from it in the past and currently? I think it is just hard when you see all your peers advancing in life online and have no problems sharing about their lives. Its tough with social media because all it does is create a comparing ground if you feel that your life doesn’t compare with those around you. Like you said its pointless trying to be all active socially on social media if it is not a reflection of my true perception and feelings of my life. However, sometimes I wonder if it is just the anxiety and ANTS thinking that makes me overwhelmingly afraid of putting myself out there. I mean all I am concerned about is updating my profile picture. But I guess it really is that I just am not comfortable in my skin and making myself known. It’s why I fear things such as the amount of likes and comments I get and the perception that others may have of me. Having social anxiety pretty much takes your identity and pride away unless it is combated in the right way. I think I just need to work on not being so hard on myself and not being ashamed that I was anxious, depressed and lonely for a long time during my youth years. Accepting the loneliness part I feel is the hardest. Its not something that you can tell some friends about and feel comfortable doing so. I feel that it may be a long process. I think that I may need to feel accepted by peers on a close level first before I can be confident with many acquaintances online. Its tough when life circumstances have prevented you from having close friends and that the shame of it and everything in life that revolves around it, further prevents you from moving forward and being who you want to be. Social media I feel is the thing that is connected to my past and is what is preventing me from advancing. Its some great insight that you said that no one would know I have social anxiety and that people are completely wrapped around themselves.

But like you said I just have to work on getting more comfortable with my life. Considering how I know it maybe a process I think it might be best to deactivate my profile despite how I may lose some contact with people and some may wonder why I am not on. I just have to work on getting more comfortable in my life. A lot of my friends have just entered grad schools of some sort and I will be graduating this coming year and planning to attend grad school the following year. It feels like I am a little delayed in how I feel about life as I am sure a lot of people with social anxiety feel the same. I feel that I haven’t lived out my younger years to my fullest and don’t feel as ready entering grad school. I know I would just get burnt out. What will help most is to learn how to stop comparing with my peers. That I am sure will be a difficult process as everything around me reminds me how I am not quite like my peers despite having pretended to feel and be so for a long time.


#29

Maybe it’d help to go through the series again. Do you feel that you completely overcame social anxiety the first time through it, and that you’ve had a setback, or that you never completely overcame social anxiety the first time through the series (I think you said it was a year ago)?

The answers to pretty much all of the problems you’re experiencing are there. Get rid of the ANTs, stop beating yourself up, accept yourself as you are right now, know the rights you have as a human being, take the initiative, pay attention to the beautiful things in life, make new friends, get out and get active, etc. Maybe you just need more practice with it before you’ve mastered these habits.


#30

Yeah I pretty much went through the series and felt like a good chunk of my social anxiety disappeared. I just had a major setback this year as I am not graduating in time along all of my friends. the moment I also got Instagram also made me feel really embarrassed as it seemed like I had been disengaged from sharing with my peers. My biggest issue with Facebook if I updated my profile is having people creep on my profile and seeing how dead and inactive I was on it fearing it would give a glimpse to my social life. I guess I really have to work on that handout of accepting where I am right now. The thing that I think I’m stuck at is the fact that I can get a place where I accept myself but I worry others may not. As in they may judge me negatively if they understood the anxiety and loneliness I felt for a long time, especially since it was a clash to my outgoing nature.


#31

I guess it’s possible that someone might judge you negatively for having been anxious and lonely, and overcoming it. But if so, that’s their problem. And most people just aren’t going to do this.

But anyway, from your latest post it sounds like you’re actually quite a ways along, and have mostly just suffered from a setback. Good luck getting back on track, and maybe don’t worry about Facebook for a while (don’t delete it, but don’t worry about updating it either)?


#32

Yeah I guess I should just leave it for now. I just want to be free and express myself on social media. But I feel like I lost my ‘coolness’ in the public eye or peoples view of me and I feel like most people have already judged me by how hidden I am. That’s why it’s hard to come out of my shell now.


#33

Another thing that I feel would be best is if I tried reconnecting with highschool people. I pretty much have graduated from my undergrad. I realized alot of my insecurities comes from not having formed close group of friends in highschool. Part of the issue was that I had moved to three different schools making it hard to form that longterm friendship. I recently just attended a party for a mutual friend of mine and I noticed how many of his highschool peers where there. Everyone knew each other and there were 75+ people at the house. Whenever I see things like that it bugs me how I unfortunately pushed the people that I went to school with away as I had been battling with my anxiety. Another thing was I felt like I didn’t belong with them as they weren’t reaching out to me for barbecues, birthdays and such. I guess I was just like an acquaintance with them in highschool. I feel like if I was now included with a lot of them it would help tremendously with my insecurities of my social life. I naturally am a very outgoing person that kind of steered away at the cause of my anxiety. I just worry if it is too long ago and if they may find it a little weird if I reached out to them now. One thing that may help is if I set up a basketball run considering I played pickup basketball with a lot of them.


#34

It sounds like you’re on the right track. As far people finding it weird that you’re reaching out to them, maybe some people will. But you “have the right to change, enhance, or develop your life in any way that you decide.”

In some situations I’ve come right out and said to people that “I know I’ve been a little bit bad at social interaction in the past, but I’m working on it.” That’s probably not something I ought to post on my Facebook page, as it’s something that I’d rather not be known by people who didn’t know me during that time in my past, especially not until I’ve completely overcome social anxiety (and I don’t think I’m there yet). But I’m comfortable with and accepting of the fact that, in the past, my shyness led some people to think that I was stuck up, and that I’m now working on changing that. So I have said something like that when I’ve felt like an old acquaintance may be questioning my motives for changing from a shy person to a friendly person.

It probably helps that the business I’m in relies heavily on personal networking. But really every business or profession relies a lot on personal networking. And even besides work, life relies a lot on personal networking. Meeting your spouse relies a lot on personal networking. Raising your children relies a lot on personal networking. Most people aren’t going to think you’re weird for being social. Those that do probably have something wrong with themselves.

I’ve edited this to replace the term “social networking” with the term “personal networking.” By “personal networking” I mean the term as it has been used (sometimes simply as “networking”) since well before it meant anything about the Internet (although, according to https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=personal+networking&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t1%3B%2Cpersonal%20networking%3B%2Cc0 it didn’t really start becoming a popular term until the late 1980s). Going to barbecues, sending birthday cards through the mail, having lunch with old acquaintances from high school. It’s all personal networking, as I use the term. Facebook is not the be all and end all of personal networking. In fact, in my opinion the main benefit of Facebook is that you can use it to help organize actual real world interactions with people. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_network for a description which is close to what I mean by the term.


#35

How do you get over the crippling shame of how social anxiety let you live over the past years. I find the shame is really preventing me from advancing in life. I am deeply ashamed of the loneliness I felt for several years at the cause of my social anxiety and it makes moving forward with confidence feel nearly impossible. Its hard to feel confident when you are tremendously insecure of how boring your life was and ashamed for how inhibited and withdrawn you feel you were for a long time. Part of the problem was that I was spending time to train on my own for sports but the fact that I hadn’t been seeing friends on a frequent basis is tremendously hard to come to terms with.


#36

I know it’s not my fault that I developed social anxiety. So there’s no reason for me to be ashamed of it. In fact, to the extent that I’ve been able to overcome social anxiety, I’m proud of having overcome it.


#37

Ok, so it seems like I should tell that to myself everyday and hopefully and surely one day it will really sink in and I’ll believe it, not caring of the possible judgement I may get from others.


#38

I don’t know. For me it was pretty simple concluding that it’s not my fault that I developed social anxiety. I didn’t have to tell it to myself every day. I did at some point share some stories from my childhood with a couple of trusted people in my life, and talking with them helped. But that’s just (a cryptic version of) my story.

Regardless of whether or not you are convinced that developing social anxiety was not your fault, shame is not an emotion that you should accept. If you can cognitively accept that feeling shame for something that happened in the past is not healthy or helpful (if you can accept that right now as a rational, true statement), then persistently telling your brain that you don’t want to feel shame any more should eventually work. If you can’t cognitively accept that, then maybe the issue is a deeper, philosophical one.


#39

What if the shame is not of having social anxiety but the effect social anxiety has caused on your life. For instance the lack of close friendships and relationships that you have had at the expense of social anxiety, only having friends you are on good terms with but not people that you frequent on the weekends with and such. I find that the shame I have felt in that regard has made me so insecure growing up and made me afraid of admitting that I needed closer friends. It made me scared to reach out to friends in order to get closer to them, feeling like I already should have had close friends by then.


#40

I think I understand what you’re saying. To an extent it’s not really something I can answer easily, as probably about half of the therapy program deals with overcoming this sort of thing. But one thing I can say is that I try as much as possible to look forward. I’ve wasted a lot of the time that I’m going to get here on Earth, but I probably have a fair amount of time left. Enough time to make new friends, and in some cases to reconnect with old friends. Enough time, I hope, to achieve some great things. But if I want to make the best of the time I have left I need to focus on the present and on the future - not so much on the past.

So, again, that’s the rational me talking about what I want to do. Just deciding what I want isn’t enough. It’s necessary, but not sufficient. But that’s the only part that I feel like I’m qualified to talk about. I’ve figured out how to train my brain, but I don’t know how to tell others how to train their brains.


#41

I understand that you say the key is to overcome social anxiety first before trying to be confident on social media. What my take on it, is that you have to be confident about your life to be on social media. But what if you want to use social media to get connected more but are far too ashamed at even reaching out to them through Facebook fearing they’d judge you negatively about how hidden you are from it as if they’d have a glimpse of my life. I figured that my main issue is that I am really insecure about my personal life and my struggles with loneliness throughout a big chunk of it. I figured that I have to have enough confidence in myself before trying to reach out to people to have more of an active social life. Once I feel confident about myself and able to put myself out on social media I feel like its then that I can be more confident and reach out to others. For the time being however I am stuck as its hard to develop the confidence when you are very insecure about the state you are in.