A Moment in My Life – March 23, 2023
Jeannie Yee Davis
I scrutinized Facebook for four days and three nights before I caved and accepted my first friend request to join the mega-addicting social platform. Why the scrutiny? Oh, I don’t know. The usual insecurities people tend towards, like what if nobody wanted to be my friend, for starters? I imagined how embarrassing it would be, like in elementary school, standing there feeling naked as the selection line petered out, waiting, hoping not to be the last kid picked for the softball team. Some scars never leave you. These memories help me empathize with people suffering from abandonment issues. Standing there with a thousand mocking eyes upon you, with some snickers adding to your already clammy hands, shaky legs, deafening blood pressure pounding on your temples as you realize you might be the last one standing on the other side of the playground was too much to bear. Nobody, especially not a kid, wants to be in that position, ever. The funny thing was that most of us have been through something similar, yet, kids could be cruel to other kids.
Fifteen years and over 600 friends later, I still remember the anxiety I experienced as if it were yesterday. As it turned out, I didn’t have to worry about friends. I laugh now at the wasted time I spent worrying. The mood induction for reactions and comments to my posts replaced my fear of friendlessness. Like most things, you don’t even see it coming. It trickles in unexpectedly, like a slow leak in your basement, until the bacteria in the stagnant water become airborne. Then you know it’s there. Has this happened to you? Add a post, wait for reactions and comments, and become bummed when you don’t get the expected responses. I have. I know I’m not alone. It’s disappointing and dispiriting. Everyone wants acceptance, and positive reactions and comments affirm us. The more we get, the more we expect it. Although, like the weather, we can’t predict the same outcome every time. People don’t like or agree with everything. People are busy and only catch some posts. Many friends of mine look but don’t touch. I don’t get it. I think of voyeurs watching you, but I’m sure they have their rationality. There are various reasons people do or don’t do what they do.
Ultimately, none of these matters in the long run. None of this defines us. Social media is entertainment and a means of sharing and connecting with friends and family. That’s it. Plain and simple. At least, that’s what it should be. However, there is some algorithm that gets us addicted to social media. I don’t have an addictive personality but I am guilty of falling prey. I just learned about social media codependency, which explains why my mood depended on the reactions and comments to my posts. I was suffering from social media codependency. Once I had a label for this, it made perfect sense. My eyes opened, and that was my ticket off the funny train heading to Doomville, which was not the direction I headed towards.
Our lives go toward our thoughts. Our thoughts can change the path of our lives, and what we think shapes who we are. As the old saying goes, “the mind is a powerful thing.” It’s also a delicate thing where truth isn’t always black or white but can easily be a tainted shade of gray. A lack of response or an iffy one feels like rejection but may not be. We see what we want to see, which may differ from the truth. Each of us has an inner voice telling us a version of the truth, which reminds me of the Big Kahuna of the “Gidget” fame, where everybody respected and idolized Kahuna for being the super cool guy, a surfer legend. Later, at the movie’s end, he wasn’t as cool as we thought. He was just a glorified man—a version of who he wanted us to see.
When others decide my thoughts for me, it’s as if the Big Kahuna lives inside my head, telling me how to think and feel—a version he portrays. That’s what I was doing when I let my mood depend on the reactions to my posts. Reactions are great. I love getting them, but I shouldn’t let them make or break me. That’s the addiction issue that leads to mood swings. Understanding this broke the social media chain that bonded me. I no longer expect reactions. Facebook is once again a fun place to visit with no strings attached, and I have a healthy relationship with social media again.
Did you know about social media codependency? It opened a whole new world for me once I learned about it. It’s easy to abuse social media, which takes the fun out of it and messes with our minds. We must guard ourselves in social media and our minds, thoughts, and emotions. As wonderful as social media could be, it could be equally damaging if we’re not careful. With that said, enjoy social media, but stay vigilant. Protect your mind because your mind will make or break you. Nobody will watch out for you but you, so you must guard where the Big Kahuna lives.