It’s no secret that I have social anxiety; I get nervous even thinking about talking to people I don’t know, and I’m terrified of people judging me. But my social anxiety stretches beyond the sphere of face-to-face interaction; it follows me in the digital world too.
Let me give you an example: three months ago, I joined the page for incoming freshmen at my university, and the big trend on that page was to post an introduction of yourself. I decided to post a similar introduction because I wanted to meet people.
It took me a month to finally post that introduction.
Every time I went to the page telling myself that I would finally write that intro, I would get a few words down, delete everything, and shut my computer off. Eventually, I got tired of always deleting everything, so I opened a Google doc and spent a few weeks tweaking my intro until finally I just decided to get it over with (kind of like ripping a band-aid off). As soon as I had posted it, I shut my computer off and didn’t check Facebook for a few hours.
Once I turned Facebook back on (after worrying constantly about how my intro would be received) I was pleasantly surprised to find that people had reacted well to it. Some people had commented on it, so I replied to them, talked a little, and then one girl asked me to send her a friend request. So I did. And then I had a panic attack.
I had a panic attack because I sent someone a friend request.
It’s true that was an extreme case of my anxiety (it’s the only panic attack I’ve gotten from sending someone a friend request) but I still have anxiety every time I contribute to a social media platform. I’ve actually downloaded Snapchat three or four times already and deleted it each time. I tried Twitter once, but I deleted my account. I have an Instagram, but I only post once in a blue moon (and when I do, it’s nearly always a picture of AT&T Park). I’ve even had a Tumblr twice, and I thought that would help (because Tumblr is supposedly the place where people with social anxiety go) but I deactivated my account twice.
Pretty much the only social media platform I’m on is Facebook, and every time I post something, my anxiety skyrockets because I’m scared people will find me annoying for my content or for posting too much (even though I can count the number of times I’ve posted so far this year on two hands).
And honestly, it seems like a pretty weird thing to be anxious about.