David Baxter PhD
by Sam Plavins, She Walks the Walk
My painful relationship with Social Media
September 14, 2022
Pictures can be deceiving. Like the one above… You’d never know that a few hours before I was a crumbling hot-mess-of-a-Sam. It was one of those uncontrollable sobbing moments… I’m talking can’t dam the tears / ass glued to the couch with the Kleenex seeming five miles away and my pyjama top taking on the role of glorified snot rag.
If you’ve never had a moment like this, lucky you.
But, I call bullshit!
I used to be Stone Cold / Oversharing SamA true maven in the Sucking-It-Up department. My approach was proudly lauded anytime I needed to push through challenges. Adding to this reputation, a propensity to narrate every explicit detail of my life online. I’d post it all, too. From the seemingly innocuous double entendre of “finally eating a pickle” to paragraphs-long tributes for my kids (who, laughably, were not even on social media).
But if you’ve ever read anything by me, be it a status update, an overshare or a blog, then you already know — I am hardly Stone Cold. In fact, I am the biggest pile of mush, drama, emotion, fear, angst, insecurity, complexity and confidence to walk the earth.
Now, I hear what you’re saying. I can’t possibly lay claim to being the Mostest with all those biggie things rolled into one succinct ball. Because all of us exist simultaneously in two realms: we are the happy and the sad. The excited and the angry. The hopeful and the jaded. The yin and the yang.
We are human beings.
So, this morning I had to finally surrender. And I’m still processing what triggered me, and why my near-animalistic purge of feelings has bothered me so much.
Hey, Facebook? It’s not me, it’s you.An internal vomit of insecurity started rising in my throat when I decided to wander onto Facebook while drinking my morning coffee.
For the record, I do not have the App on my phone, but I’m aware that sneaky little Google is smart enough to remember my log-in deets. Not exactly the Fort Knox embargo I thought I’d engineered. I can log-on whenever I’m feeling the need for news.
Within two minutes, I learned that my niece and nephew crushed their respective swim meets, both making provincial times and qualifying for something undoubtedly huge. That I wouldn’t have known this otherwise made me feel immediately left out.
How could my sister not have shared this with her own family? Does she assume that putting it on Facebook is good enough? What if we’re not on FB? Or what if we’re taking a break? Was it me that just didn’t care enough to ask? Or that famous standby excuse of mine, “I’m too busy for FB.”
I also learned a former client slash acquaintance lost her father yesterday. A gush of tears fell the instant I’d read that, because I, too, am losing my father. I did the thing where I leapt ahead in my brain to imagine what I would share on social media when the day inevitably comes.
Sobbing chokes. I shut it down and stared out the window. Don’t need to be reminded of anyone’s fragility. I already know my personal hero is on borrowed time.
Then, like some masochistic, Pavlovian response, I go back for more good times:
Someone’s anniversary I’d forgotten.
Four birthdays I gaffed on.
Someone’s kids performed on a main stage event. Seems like it was a big deal.
And because I care what those people think of me, I commented. I mean, it was a legit comment “You must be so proud!! They’re killing it!!” But really? Why that post and not any of my true friends? (One of whom sustained an injury of sorts — but do her legs ever look “svelte” — which I also learned about in a group chat on Messenger.)
Truthfully? I cannot handle all this information!As an empath, I implode into a pile of dysfunction in my wired desire to support, encourage, validate, and acknowledge. This is a losing (and impossible) game to win.
While others appear super successful at it, I gave up a few years ago and should know fucking better. My internal flogging at my own overwhelm triggers every insecurity I have.
But wait, there’re more! Then I read an update my husband put out into the cyber world; something about should he ever “find himself at a bar staring at someone in a ponytail with wrapped sunglasses, to please shoot him.”
Sam’s old wounds from that one time she gutted her husband by nearly stepping out on her marriage immediately ooze pus. (Sorry.)
He was out at a bar last night? News to me! And who was this woman? What was he even talking about?!
Pause for some irony: The Happy Server PersonaI proclaim to anyone who asks that my new serving gig is totally my jam. That I’m the Happy Server… The one who loves making people feel special, revelling in the idea of no post-work stress to carry home with me while enjoying the abundance of tax-free money.
Let’s get real: working six nights a week until midnight, barely seeing my husband, running on fumes (the thing I preach against) is not exactly where I saw myself a few years ago.
As I tried to rationalize my ridiculous feelings about my husband’s post, it occurred to me that this pace of work, this “two ships crossing in the night” situation, does not a happy marriage make.
What if he drifts from me? Am I drifting from him? Whenever I come home, he’s long been asleep. Our only hope of any real communication is to get up at an ungodly hour for coffee with him. Which I usually try to do but is made more challenging by my own need to “unwind” after a 7-hour serving shift on my feet.
Turns out, the post was about him witnessing some cringy dude in a ponytail trying to pick up these young girls. So why does my brain immediately assume something else is going on? Hello, LOSER? This is REALITY calling: if he was into said ponytail “chic” he would not be posting it on FB!!
“But he’s been wearing the good underwear lately!”
“And he’s stopped drinking!”
“And he’s lost weight!” (Hmmn. What’s THAT all about?)
Welcome to my morning (and yes I know I’m a Freak Show)! Where I went from burying my father (who is still alive, btw) to marriage falling apart in all of ten minutes. Thank you, Facebook.
What I’ve learnedIf I’m someone who can’t handle the intensity of everyone else’s lives let alone my own at times, I should probs steer clear of social media. Other than Instagram which I am using to try and propel She Walks the Walk, I need to maintain my boundary and STAY the FUCK OUT. Like, please. Someone just lock me out of my account already.
I’m also embracing my All-or-Nothingness and just accepting myself for who I am. I’m a lousy “dabbler.” Like I told a new friend the other day, I’m either “in” or I’m “out.” There’s very little half-assing that goes in my life. Meanwhile, the advice I generally receive is to try and live in the grey. If I want to keep up with the world, just do a little bit of Facebooking every day. Like, half hour. No harm, no foul.
I think we all know by now that doesn’t seem to work for me, either. So here are the conclusions I’ve arrived at:
- Keeping my circle small makes me feel safe and confident that I can give what I get
- I don’t need to be everyone and their damn dog’s BFF.
- If I miss your birthday, or fail to realize you’ve moved across the country, it doesn’t mean I don’t wish you well. Of course, I wish you well.
- My bandwidth, as I get older and contend with aging parents among other super fun milestones, is shorter than it was in my thirties. Mic. drop.
- Most of the stuff on there is CRAP as it is.
- Forget FOMO. There’s nothing I’m missing out on. My true loved ones know what’s going on in my world and I there’s. They accept me and my absence.
Now, please excuse me while I share this little piece. Yes, on freaking Facebook!!
But then I’m going outside. Where I belong. Where any overwhelm is related only to the stirring of my senses. A rustling wind in my hair. The faint scent of leaves beginning their journey to decay. The warmth of the autumn sun on my back.