Anna Gragert
April 05, 2016 11:02 am
Twitter/Anna Gragert

I’ve always had a weird relationship with social media. I never had a Myspace – though every single one of my friends, their moms, and their mom’s friends did. As for platforms like Facebook and Twitter, I’ve only been a semi-active participant for a little over two years. And Instagram? It’s been less than 1.5 years and I’ve only posted 45 photos.

Though I habitually promised my peers I’d become a piece of the social media puzzle, I never actually went through with it. Because social media terrified me (and still does, to some extent, or I probably wouldn’t be writing this).

Nonetheless, when I started out as a freelance writer, I wanted to connect with my readers and other freelancers. So, naturally, I created a Twitter and I. Loved. It. I loved communicating with like-minded people from all over the world. I felt as though I had a close group of Twitter friends around me and, thanks to their positivity, my OCD didn’t latch on to this new vice… at first.

As the months went by, my Twitter circle expanded and my timeline was flooded with a mix of positivity, negativity, and – most notably – people who posted their accomplishments for all to see. Since my specific form of OCD revolves around the concept of perfectionism, my brain was having a field day.

Here and there, I’d try to delete my Twitter, but couldn’t completely quit. I’d end up re-downloading the program as my OCD simultaneously acted as the Devil on my shoulder. I started worrying if my tweets were good enough; if I was good enough; if virtual strangers approved of me. Up until a few weeks ago, I was amidst this toxic state of mind.

As of right now, I haven’t had Twitter on my phone for several weeks. I’ve checked it, occasionally, on my computer, but I no longer carry it around with me. I no longer have the literal and metaphorical weight of Twitter resting on my body and, without that weight holding me back, I’ve learned a lot.

My self-confidence balloon has expanded. 

Since deleting Twitter, I’ve spent a lot less time comparing myself to others. I no longer see my value in terms of “likes” and “retweets.” Alternatively, I focus on the strides I’m making in the non-virtual world. I hold on to these accomplishments, let them wash over me, and realize that they are all my own.

I’ve made strides in overcoming my social anxiety.  

I used Twitter as a bandage, as a way to conceal my social anxiety. I figured, “I interact with people online, so that means I don’t have to talk to anyone in real life, right? RIGHT?!” While this method successfully kept me in denial for many moons, it definitely wasn’t doing me any good.

Yes, I still experience social anxiety, but it’s not as bad as it was. I’m no longer hiding behind Twitter – rather, I’m using the time I’d spend on Twitter to come face-to-face with my anxieties.

My creative energy has found other outlets. 

To be honest, I’ve spent an embarrassing amount of time attempting to draft the “perfect tweet.” In addition to my time, I’ve used up a ton of creative energy that could have been dispersed into other areas of my life. Without the Twitter icon tempting me on my phone, that’s exactly what’s happened: my creativity has been devoted to making my work, my relationships, and my life the best it can be.

I care more about being present, here, in the real world. 

Take a moment to put your device away. Look around you. Take in your surroundings, the colors, the lights, the smells, the texture of your environment. It’s all so beautiful and we’re lucky to be where we are.

Twitter can be fun, but it doesn’t beat all the world has to offer.

What I think of myself is more important than what you think of me. 

Every time someone would “like” one of my tweets, it felt like a symbol of approval. It felt as though that person was nodding my way, telling me I was doing a good job, giving me a 100 on a test. Sadly, this way of thinking is one ditch that’s almost impossible to dig yourself out of.

When you take away everyone else’s “likes,” you essentially remove their opinions from your vantage point. You make room for your own opinions, allowing them to bubble to the surface, to see the light of day. You give your inner voice a platform as the audience quiets down and gives you the space to speak.

Dear Twitter, I think you’re great. But here’s the thing: I’m great, too.

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