Monday, March 7, 2016

Social Media and the Lone Wolf

Hi. My name is Amy and I am a lone wolf. What I mean by that is that I'm a generally solitary soul who doesn't feel much need to interact with other people. I do interact, of course, and it isn't as though I deliberately eschew social interaction, I just don't particularly need it. Or at least I never did.

Recently I've been feeling lonely. This is a new sensation for me, and it's unwelcome. I've always been sort of a universe unto myself. Being alone has never really made me feel lonely. In fact, I usually feel sort of giddy at the prospect of true alone-ness. I can read, knit, listen to music, watch a dialogue driven film at whatever volume I want. I can be as productive or unproductive as I choose. I'll go to restaurants alone, movies alone, I've done plenty of travelling alone. Being alone has always been a happy thing. That's fortunate, because I've never been what you'd call popular.

Making friends is difficult. I've done it (at least I think I have-that might be presumptuous), but it takes me a while to form connections to other people. I like to laugh and talk about odd topics and have philosophical conversations about really anything...but small talk feels stilted and drains me. I am utter shit at talking to strangers, and new people stress me out. A lot. Plus, I'm really an asshole.  I can be emotionless to the point of being robotic. People don't like that. Some of it is defense mechanism, because feelings scare me. Sometimes they pop up and surprise me. Every now and then I'll verge on tears and that is major fucking freak out time because WTF is this water from my eyes. I'm a good deal more social now than I ever have been before, and part of that is me forcing myself out of my comfort zone. I'm usually glad I did, but it's an effort. (Hard to believe I found someone willing to put up with me for the rest of my life, isn't it? I'm not an easy person to love.)

But when I'm alone I feel at peace. There are a thousand thousand characters from books I've read wandering around in my brain, and they keep me company. I have a very rich fantasy life, and it's easy to sink into a novel or a daydream and be intensely happy there. I used to do this all the time, with very little regard to what others may or may not be doing without me. Honestly, I hardly ever thought about what other people might be doing.

What does that have to do with social media?  Well, now I always know what people are doing. My alone time is punctuated by Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Messenger, and Snapchat alerts. Even with the notification settings basically turned off, I'm still bombarded with what's going on with everyone I know all the time...and I feel compelled to interact, lest I be left behind (and when did I start to care about that?). I've started to care what's going on without me and I've started to crave the validation that comes with the "likes" and comments and retweets etc. It's fucking with my equilibrium. I haven't needed social validation since I was a teenager, and I remember how shitty that felt (and how little of it I got). The way it's increasingly sneaking back into my psyche is disturbing. As stupid as this sounds, I feel left out and I feel lonely. So I'm shutting that shit down.

I spend so much time staring at screens. 10 hours a night for 7 nights in a row at work I stare at a screen. I stare at my phone, the source of my current over-socialized angst. Even reading is done on a screen since my book addiction has become a space issue. It's time to take a step back. I ordered the paperback for the novel I'm currently reading, and I've dropped off social media sites. I need to remember who and what I am instead of trying to be what I think people want me to be. Alone is my thing.

I hate it when people flounce off Facebook like Facebook slapped their mother or something. "OMG you guys, I can't take the DRAMA anymore! I'M TOTES DELETING FACEBOOK! I'M TAKING MY BALL AND GOING HOME!" There's nothing wrong with social media. There's something wrong with my interaction with it. I let myself become overly dependent on it, and on constant connection. I didn't delete Facebook, or Instagram, or Twitter, or Messenger, or Snapchat. If you message me I'll see it eventually. Necessity dictates that I visit Facebook for information on events and such. I'm not mad at anyone or anything. Except a little bit myself. I don't know how long I'll be off. A few days? A few weeks? However long it takes to feel settled again. To snap the addiction. To stop feeling lonely.

I'm not dropping off the earth. If you wonder to yourself "Where is Amy?" I can tell you with 95% certainty that I'm one of four places: work, home, the box, or the studio. My schedule is pretty predictable. And by all means, text me if you want to talk or get together. But don't call. I never pick up.

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