How I learned to manage my anxiety online and IRL
Every morning the first thing I do is click through the various apps on my phone—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Timehop, Slack. Between the texts and emails that need responses, it’s easy to feel behind on the day even before getting into work.
From 6 a.m. until I go to bed, I’m connected to the Internet. Each retweet, like, regram, view — I’m there. Every day I take in all the news, being sure to take note of what’s trending on Twitter. Has there been another tragedy? What’s the latest news in our post-election reality? How is this going to impact me? Sometimes it involves figuring out the best way to manage unsavory comments that make me shake my head. But overall, it’s an exciting role — being able to be connected to the world instantaneously, pushing out content and being completely in the know.
As of late, I’ve become more on-edge than usual.
The feeling of not being in control of my body, the feeling of always needing to be on high-alert, the feeling of being in a daze — I didn’t feel like myself and I couldn’t figure out why.
To be able to cut myself off from everything made me wish the weekend lasted longer. But during those few days, I still felt like I should be worried. Something terrible was happening in the world and I was missing it. How would this impact social media for work or just for my life in general?
Now, more than ever, when I hang out with friends, I want to be fully present in the moment. And I hope they’ll do the same.
I’m tired of having high expectations and feeling underwhelmed. I’m tired of feeling completely drained by the Internet.
It’s time to retire ghosting — both of significant others and of friends. Because in those in-between silences of ghosting are the pressures to like someone’s Instagram photo, to comment on a Facebook post, to share our love online for appearance’s sake. I yearn for real-life interactions, hand-written notes, phone calls, and plans that manifest in person. I hope for hugs over retweets.
Whether it’s being more active, or volunteering, or making more intentional and meaningful decisions about how I spend my time, I hope that I can create a reality that doesn’t feel so frantic and chaotic. I know that there’s a way to strike a balance — I’m just still trying to figure out what that balance will be. At this point, I know it won’t involve having thousands of Instagram followers. And it won’t be engaging in never-ending Facebook comment threads.
And I’m okay with that. For once I’d like to be the one who doesn’t respond to other people’s text messages because my phone is off and I’m living my life, out in the world, offline.