Why? Because I use social media to feel less alone, to connect with people who might be going through what I’m going through and either offer support or seek support myself.
Of course, I am probably in the minority. Most people use social media like a scrapbook, to capture and share the special moments, the good stuff and the funny stuff.
When I began blogging I was going through some truly awful stuff and I didn’t have any inhibitions about sharing it with whoever stumbled upon it. I didn’t care that some of it “wasn’t my story to tell”. I just needed to have it out there and to be heard.
I found support and I found others who had been through similar situations. This helped me cope and made me feel less alone. I spent a lot of time hanging out on Kidspot, opening up my smashed heart to the scrutiny of others and I don’t think I would have gotten through that period without them.
I carried that honesty with me over onto social media and for a while social media was a place where you could be honest and most people were. Until they weren’t.
These days I feel utterly alone. Most blogs and social media feeds are superficial highlights’ reels, carefully edited and filtered to present lives that people want others to see and be inspired by (or maybe even envious of?). I find it near on impossible to connect with such perfect people. I want to know the nitty-gritty of people’s lives – their self-doubts, their dramas, their inner conflicts, all the hard bits that we all get handed out as we trod along life’s treadmill.
Are most people ashamed to share their real selves on the internet? Are they afraid of judgement and scrutiny? What’s the worst thing that can happen if the real you stood up?
I hear people say that some things are “private”. Why? As an Aspie, I don’t really have any filters or boundaries, but I do understand that most people do, even though I can’t relate to it.
I do understand that people judge and don’t like to see others as whole, complex individuals with light and shade in their personalities and their lives.
I’ve always been very open about my depression and was surprised to learn that there is a stigma about talking about it. It may be that it had affected my career in the past and it may be that my openness is affecting my business opportunities now.
My work ethic and quality of the work I produce has nothing to do with my mental health. Yes, I may have a day once in a few months when I need to hide in bed, but most of the time I am highly functioning and find work a relief from my internal dramas. It’s like judging someone’s work ethic on the basis of their gender or parental status.
Of course, my social life is not limited to the online world, but I find it really hard to open up emotionally to real, rather than virtual people. And I’m not alone in that. A lot of my real life conversations rarely get into the nitty gritty of any difficulties we might be having, as most people try to gloss over the darker patches of their lives, for their own, as much as their friends’ sakes.
I don’t really understand that. Perhaps, it’s because the culture I come from thrives on realism, particularly of the negative kind. Poles relish telling each other stories of the awful things that have happened to them and try to outdo each other with how bad things are.
That’s why I don’t hang out with them.
So, no, I don’t thrive on drama, either mine or other people’s, but I believe in balance, I believe in getting to know the whole person. I want to be able to share my dreams and aspirations without ridicule and put downs, as much as I want to talk about the bad stuff and be heard.
I also want to know that bad stuff is normal and happens to everyone. You’ve no idea how much hope it gave me to hear from women who had lived through abusive relationships with men who were sex offenders and came out on the other side, found new partners and had stable, fulfilled lives. I honestly thought I was all alone and I was so ashamed that I was stupid enough to get myself into that situation. Having them reach out to me through their stories saved my sanity.
Reading and hearing about other people’s darker patches helps me feels less odd and less alone. It helps me connect with YOU and see you as a REAL human being. And it gives me a chance to be of help to you. It allows me to show you that it’s possible to get through the darkest and lowest times and that sometimes going to sleep is really the best you can do to switch your mind off from the incessant pain that life brings at times of crisis.
There is no shame in showing your real face to the world. There is no shame in admitting that sometimes life is hard. Or even that it’s hard a lot of the time. It’s those stories that keep me coming back. Stories of survival, of plodding on despite the hurt, of reaching for hope even when it seems so far away.
Like Eden says, “there is always hope”. Eden’s writing helps me a lot, because she is real. Her story is nothing like mine, but it’s out there for all to see. I love that she’s unafraid to let it all hang out. I wish there were more Edens.
*Image by Diogenes