Leaving social media cured my anxiety disorder… I am telling the truth.
(I wish I could make this my status update – but since I’m off Facebook, I can’t. And you know what? That’s a good thing! Read on…)
I found a really funny little comic strip thingy the other day that pretty much summed up my toxic on-again-off-again-doin’-ma-head-in relationship with social media. It read: “I think I am always on the internet because it fills my two requirements of getting attention yet also being alone.”
My Godfather! I read that and painfully thought: WOW! That is (was) me!
I loved the idea of talking to people but not really talking to people. I liked the idea of sharing, but I wasn’t really that interested in what others had to share. I liked the idea of being funny and witty and getting “liked” and laughed at, but put me in a room full of actual humans and, unless I was on stage making them laugh for a living, then I was usually the first to leave a function or hide in the corner being anti-social.
And isn’t that the big fat joke of social media?
It isn’t bloody social at all.
Facebook depression is very real. The anxiety some of us feel by pressuring ourselves to keep up to date and share every morsel of crap that flies in our face – every opinion, every family snap, every pic where we look “hot” and we are pouting at a “cool” bar with “pretty” friends or “famous” people – it was making me sick!
I’m serious. It was making me unwell.
I was becoming addicted to the “idea” of updating my status, not actually doing it – my entire life became viewed through the eyes of an instagram filter. ( Which filter? Which filter? So many, too many to choose from.)
Everything I did and saw and heard went through my mind’s filter. How I could use that in my social media? And you know the worst thing? It wasn’t even intentional…it became a sick way of life for me.
Autopilot Update Anxiety you could call it.
In the same way I would gather and sort sort information for content on our breakfast radio show I’d do it that for social media too. I would fantasize about a pending status update and the carefully chosen picture long before it would come to fruition. Like a drug addict I would plot when and how I would make my next status update – my next “hit”. What wit would I impart. What tidbit of nonsense would I share . What “snapshot” into my private world would I allow my “friends” to see.
( Jesus. I’m cringing just writing this. What a wanker I must have seemed.)
Until one day I decide to just STOP.
And I did.
And the silence was deafening. It really, really was.
I am calm.
And I’m going to say it. I’m going put this out there and I can hear some of you – many of you in fact – tsk, tsking to yourselves. But I’ll say it.
It was the best thing I ever did.
You know why?
Because the Generalized Anxiety Disorder that I was diagnosed with over nine years ago now has gone. That’s why.
I’ll just let that sink in shall I? It’s gone. I am not on medication either – its just… gone.
I admit I do feel really uncomfortable suggesting that it has gone simply because I gave up every form of social media, but could it really be a coincidence that the same month I go off it – late November, 2012 -my panic attacks ceased? The tingly feeling I used to get in my arms and the feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed for no reason have pretty much disappeared.
My doctor can’t explain it and neither can people around me who say I seem calmer and less frazzled. People come up to me in the street and congratulate me for getting off “that evil thing”. There is a backlash against this “thing” that I am seeing take over people’s lives.
Sure I took extreme action, but the same way those in AA must not touch a drop, I can’t go near social media at all. I can’t just jump online occasionally, dip my toe in to see whats going on.
It’s all or nothing – it’s in my nature.
The same drive that has taken to me to many great heights and achievments in my life and career is the same insatiable monster that can bring me down, so I feel it’s best to totally abstain. And it’s worked.
My life feels so much free-er. I once reached for my iPhone to take a picture of something “hilarious” I had just seen and I now I stop myself and just enjoy the moment – the sunset – the funny thing a kid in the supermarket just did. Whatever it may be, I simply stop and enjoy being there in the moment rather than desperately uploading that “moment” to “share” with so may people – mostly strangers.
It almost seems weird to me now that I was ever that self obsessed & self indulgent. Does anyone really care that much about what we are all doing? We are breeding a generation of kids that really think every move they make is upload-able. That cannot be healthy. It’s the OCD of over-sharing.
I am loving my new freedom and my newly-found calm. I don’t miss social media at all.
I look at those around me constantly scrolling Facebook and bitching and commenting on someone else’s “stuff” the way an ex smoker would look at someone sucking back hard on a dart and think: Thank God that isn’t me anymore”.
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*Bianca Dye is a breakfast presenter on i98FM. She can be heard from 6 to 9 am throughout the Wollongong/Illawarra region in NSW.