For as long as I’ve known about social networks, I’ve had a love/hate (mostly hate) relationship with them.
On the one hand, I feel like these networks foster a false sense of connection with people where it’s often easy for misunderstandings and misrepresentations to take place. I also feel like people say things on social networks that they’d never have the guts to say in actual life (for better or for worse). And I just kind of hate the whole technology taking over our lives part of it.
On the other hand, I work from home and am an introvert. Technology has made it so I–as an introvert–basically never have to leave my apartment. And as an introvert–I love that convenience. I hate grocery shopping, you guys, so I’m not mad about that.
But I’ve recognized that as much as that keep to myself thing is part of my introversion and a totally healthy way to be–there is another side of it. And it’s related to my PTSD. Part of the reason I don’t enjoy going to big events or grocery shopping is because sometimes I’ll get triggered by things. It’s not really a thing now, but in the past, I’ve had mild panic attacks upon seeing medical devices and holiday decorations. It’s hard to predict when these things will trigger a difficult memory, so–for a long time–I actively avoided my exposure and managed my life based around these possible triggers. It sucked.
I haven’t dealt with one of these events in years–literally–but there is a very real part of me that wants to keep people away from me. That gets overwhelmed. That finds the worst in people to justify keeping them at arm’s length. And, man–oh man–does social media support those feelings.
Like anything, you can find whatever you want online. The good, the bad, the sublime, the fucking cruel. And I’ve witnessed it all. I’ve noticed that the more I engage social networks, the more I am often triggered to not be my best self. I get angry more. I get judgmental. I rant and rave and complain. Whenever I do this a lot, I realize I need a break. I’ve been feeling this a lot this week, and that judgmental side of me definitely came out–big time–yesterday. I’d been trying not to disengage from social networks, though, because I felt like it was important to be part of certain conversations. And I rely on Twitter, especially, for news. I didn’t want to be in the dark. And I didn’t want to engage my privilege.
But sometimes, before you can help anyone, before you can be a global citizen, before you can transcend your race–you have to just be a human being and take care of yourself.
So, last night, I finally posted on Twitter that I’d be taking what I hoped would be an extended break. Mostly because I felt myself being unkind and unloving toward others–but mostly to myself. It was not some act of disengaging because I felt overwhelmed by issues. It was the fact that I myself was perpetuating violence against myself in deciding to engage people right now–in this way.
When I feel this way–I need to look people in their eyes and see their humanity. It’s why I take my nightly walks. It’s why I went to the BLM protest downtown. I need to see people and not just react to their words. I need to hear their voices, see their smiles, and be with them as a human being. I miss those days of being around people all the time–as much as I’m an introvert–I actually do miss it. I miss being part of things–of a community–and feeling the energy of people creating something more than themselves.
Most of my days, these days, I spend alone with my cats. And I sometimes–often–relish it. But I know it’s unhealthy for me to do it for too long. It’s one of the reasons why I am going to be much more active socially once I’m in California full-time. Not just to meet new friends–but also to just be myself in a place where I can’t control all the elements of my existence. I need to explore and dream with others for a while. It’s why I’m leaving Denver. It’s too easy to be comfortable and alone here.