Social Anxiety and Social Media

Friday, 25 March 2016

Hello friends. As you know, I want to always be open about mental health issues because it's just such an important issue. I've previously discussed how I have social anxiety and how it this affects me day-to-day. But it's not just limited to face-to-face interactions.
The internet seems like a blessing made for people with social anxiety. There's none of the awkward eye contact, no need to try and read body language and no reason you should have to worry about how you look or smell or dress etc. And it is a wonderful thing. You can make friends with people that live on the other side of the world. You can often get support from total strangers. You can get involved with people like yourself that struggle with similar issues or have similar tastes.

But there's also the negative side of the internet. The side with the trolls and the people who take the ability to be faceless and use it to be cruel. And that's perhaps where my issue comes from. Because my social anxiety definitely extends to the internet. I know that this must seem odd considering that I write about myself on the internet and open myself up to a lot of criticism. But my blog is still oh so small and it's easy to pretend I'm only writing for myself. 

I desperately want to get involved in the communities that are available on the internet since I can't quite manage to do it in real life yet. I want to be able to talk to strangers who love Harry Potter as much as I do. I want to be involved in frantic talks about what the next Marvel film will hold and participate in all the various Twitter chats. I just want to be able to talk to people. Sometimes I'll get as far as to write the comment in the dialogue box. But after reading it a few times over, checking the dictionary definition of words to ensure there's no possibility of me offending anyone or my message being perceived in the wrong way, I'll chicken out and erase it and close the tab. The same reservations I have with talking to people in person rear their heads. "Nobody wants to know your opinion, nobody cares what you think". I worry that I'm bothering people. It is the very freedom offered to me by the lack of face-to-face communication that makes it so difficult for me to post anything. 

If I'm feeling confident I can get involved in twitter chats like the girl gang chat, but I struggle to maintain this week after week. This anxiety makes me feel like I'm interrupting people's conversations, that I'm not welcome there, even though the point of these chats are usually meant to be inclusive.

I realise that my inability to speak on the internet isn't that big of issue in the grand scheme of things. But it is something I need to overcome to feel like I'm a part of a community and to ultimately feel less anxious. I am trying. But it's difficult.

Do any of you suffer from similar feelings?

Thanks for reading! 

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