I’m really struggling with a vulnerability hangover today. I am having a major desire to quit the internet, especially social media, and go blanket fort for the rest of my life. I won’t, but the impulse is there, and so I want to be honest with you.
Sometimes being ‘out here’ sucks balls.
Shit happens that would just simply not happen if I weren’t a ‘public person’. If I were just Effy over here doing her work, I would have about – oh – 98% less drama to deal with. But if I’m going to do what I do, I am required to show up, use my voice, and take up some space. So I do, despite how perilous it feels sometimes.
It is frustrating, though, because the solution to my most pressing, most emotionally taxing problem is to quit social media altogether. But, here’s my reality. At least 98% of my traffic comes from social media, so while I admire those who have packed up and left Facebook, it’s just not something I can do. Not unless I want to go get a ‘brick and mortar’ job, and I do not. want. that.
I have this voice in my head saying “You gotta pay to play”. I think what that voice is telling me is that no matter what I do, there will be problems. No matter how I choose to live my life, there will be areas of ‘not quite right’. You wanna teach on line? You want to work in your pyjamas? Social Media Drama is the price you have to pay.
Okay. Okay. I get it. But still.
I posted about this on Facebook yesterday, because it’s extremely frustrating, not to mention hurtful as fuck, that I can post something (either here on my blog, or on social media) and someone will demonize me because they feel personally attacked or convicted by whatever it is I’ve said. And I understand the personally convicted part. That happens to me, too. Maybe someone talks about a change they’re making (quitting smoking, maybe, or working on being kinder), and I realize that I have work to do in that area, too, and I feel almost as though that post could have been written *at me* because it’s a thing I’m struggling with. And I may, indeed, in that moment, feel ‘bad” about myself because I’m not farther along in that area, or I have suddenly realized the degree to which I struggle with that thing.
But, here’s what I don’t do. I don’t demonize or shoot the messenger. I don’t curl my lip up at the person who held up the mirror I am currently gazing into. I don’t think of them as making me feel bad. I don’t think they are personally calling me out. I don’t believe I’m that much on anyone else’s mind that they would post on the internet about how well they’re doing with a thing I’m struggling with just to make me feel bad.
It may be true that their post is reflecting something about me *to* me, and I may, indeed, feel personally called out. But that is not a ‘them’ thing. That is a ‘me’ thing. That post has nothing to do with me, personally, (even if it does, even if it is actually about me, it isn’t ever really actually about me) but my reaction to it sure is, and so, after liberal applications of self-empathy, it is up to me to bless the mirror and do my work.
And I consider that a gift.
But not everyone reacts to the mirror that is social media in this way. Some people react to the mirror that is social media as if it is a constant personal attack and affront. They are perpetually offended by everything everyone posts. They make grand demands on their time lines about what we should all post and not post in order to accommodate whatever is going on with them. If they’re struggling with infertility, no one should post about having a baby. If they’re struggling with addiction, no one should post about having alcohol. If they are vegan, no one should post about eating meat. If they are unhealthy, no one should post about their glowing good health. If they’re poor, no one should post about their abundance. If they’re depressed, no one should post about being blissed out. If they’re single, no one should post about being happily married. No one should post, in short, about anything that makes them feel bad, and if people do post about things that make them feel bad, the people posting are bad people who should be ashamed of making them feel bad.
Like, what the fuck?
They have literally given all of their power to shape their experience away and then they lash out when no one bothers to abide by their wishes. But they have infinite power to shape their experience. They can unfollow. They can unfriend. They can put people on pause. They can ask themselves ‘why is this bothering me so much’ and do their own work to fix it or address it in a way that allows them to be in the world without bubble wrap.
I’m not the only one who’s noticed this, and I’m not the only person this happens to. I just happen to get it *a lot* because I write with authority and personal conviction. I share very intimately, and that’s a thing that can trigger all sorts of responses. Like FOMO or comparey monsters. But that isn’t my intention, like, ever. That it triggers that for some people is a ‘them’ thing. It’s not a ‘me’ thing. I don’t write for ‘them’. I write for me. I don’t write about ‘them’. I write about me.
Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:
Someone posts a haul video of all the lovely things they bought at Michael’s with a coupon. Here’s what certain kinds of people say: “She’s bragging about her wealth. She is making me feel bad because I can’t afford any of that stuff. She’s rubbing her face in my ‘have nots’.”
Someone posts about their excitement over having a baby, and here’s what certain kinds of people say: “She is rubbing my nose in her fertility. She’s bragging about how easy it is for her. She’s making me feel bad because I can’t have a baby. She’s making me feel inadequate because I don’t want children.”
Someone posts that they have decided to quit drinking alcohol. “She’s holier than thou. She’s judging me because I drink. She’s making me feel bad about my own drinking.”
Someone posts about a new diet they’re trying because they want to take control over their health. “She’s ‘shoving it’ down people’s throats, or making them feel bad about their own nutritional choices, or trying to prove her superiority.”
Someone posts that they had a successful launch of something they’ve worked on for ages, and they’re super excited about it. “She’s bragging. She’s full of herself. She makes me feel bad because I haven’t accomplished anything like that. She’s arrogant.”
Someone sells out a show, or sells a piece for way more than certain people would ever pay. “She’s a sell out. She’s all about the money. She’s not that good to begin with. I don’t even like her art. She’s lording her success over me. She makes me feel bad about my own art. She’s such a show off.”
What the fuck?
Like, No! SO MUCH NO to all of this!
Because, Fuck. No.
Now, you may be personally convicted right now because you do this, but I can guarantee I’m not talking about *you personally*. I’m talking, in general, about people who do this. And maybe this post threw up a mirror in your face, and you are staring at your reflection in that mirror, and maybe you don’t like what you see.
That is not a ‘me’ problem. That is a ‘you’ problem.
You can smash the mirror, or you can own the reflection, and if you own the reflection, you will do your work. If you smash the mirror (examples: unfriending me in a huff, calling me names on social media, telling everyone BUT me what a judgemental bitch I am, telling people they shouldn’t take my classes, etc.) you end up looking like a total asshole AND you’ve got a pile of shards to clean up, because that mirror? That’s not me. That’s got nothing whatsoever to do with me.
I, too, feel called out and personally convicted. Regularly.
The internet, with its wealth of writings, memes, comments, communiques, etc. often throws a mirror up in my face. I see myself reflected in many posts. I often quip “I resemble that remark!”. Example: someone’s post about about how their business is going might trigger feelings that they are doing so much better than I am in their business. My comparey monsters get activated. I may feel envy. I may feel disappointed in myself. That is *not a them thing*. That is a me thing, and I won’t smash the mirror. Maybe someone’s post throws up a mirror about a way in which I am insensitive or unconsciously racist. Maybe someone throws up a mirror about the way I neglect my own self-care. Maybe someone throws up a mirror about something I’m lacking or missing or longing for. That is not a *them thing*. That mirror is *my mirror*, and I will own my own reflection. If I’m hurt, they didn’t hurt me. The reflection hurts, so I will tend my own hurts. I will decide whether or not it’s healthy for me to keep following them on social media. Maybe I need a break. Maybe I need to go ‘head down’ so I’m not constantly comparing. If it’s an envy thing, I have to ask myself hard questions. How can I get there? What can I do differently? What is my work to do? Do I actually want <insert thing here) or is that FOMO talking? That’s my work in that moment. It’s not to gossip about her, or vague book about her, or go all sour grapes all over the thing, or tell her how she should tone it down so I don’t feel so bad.
Fuck that noise.
Anyway, I suspect you can tell from my ‘tone’ in this post that I’m pretty pissed off, and I know that a woman’s anger isn’t welcome anywhere these days, but whatever. I *am* pissed off. I don’t like this aspect of social media *at all*. I wish people would stop doing this kind of thing, but you know what? I have zero power over what other people do. All I can do is check myself whenever this happens, remind myself that this is not my circus, these are not my monkeys, and this is not the kind of interaction I’m comfortable with having. I can unfriend. I can unfollow. I can put a person on pause. I can write about my experience of this kind of thing from my own perspective, share how it is for me through my own filters, so that I can discharge it from my body, where it causes an enormous amount of energy to be wrapped up in frustration and anxiety.
But I can’t ask people to stop doing it.
I can only decide it’s a hard limit for me, and I can put a nice wide alligator filled moat + a forest filled with loyal wolves between me and that kind of fuckery.
About The Blog Along
Every year, twice a year, once in April, and again in September, I blog every day for a month, and invite others to do the same. We have a Facebook group, and in that group the only rule is that for every link you post to your own blog, you go off and read three other blogs and leave a comment. This is simply a way to ensure that a community happens rather than just a ‘promo’ group. You’re welcome to join in as long as you are willing to read and comment on three blogs for every blog you post. Click here to join us! If you’re too busy for that, you’re welcome to just blog on your own for a month. Easy peasy. No one is keeping score. There are no prizes except that you get to build your own readership by regularly populating your blog with good content.
To read all my entries for the Blogalong, please click here to access the Blogalong With Effy Category on my blog.