Dealing With Social Anxiety Online


I wrote and published the bare bones this post sometime last Summer, but I deleted it within minutes. I didn't feel comfortable with it, I'm not sure why, but I've been experiencing some pretty crippling social anxiety related to my blog and social media this year and I figured it was time for this post (now expanded upon and revised) to see the light of day.
 
I've always had difficulty making friends. I'm always very quiet, shy and observant when around new people and because of this I'm usually branded rude or arrogant before I've really had a chance to get to know someone. This isn't completely the other person's fault - I'm not very good at eye contact or small talk, and even when someone is trying to talk to me I get so nervous and lost within my anxiety that I just don't know how to reply. Since writing this blog and becoming a lot more active on social media, I've noticed that this trait also extends to my online world.

Twitter is a wonderful social platform and is a great way to find like-minded people. I love Tweeting, but sometimes there's a certain amount of anxiety behind that 140 character allowance. I think about every letter I type, every emoji I use and every piece of punctuation I add. I feel like everyone is going to be critiquing my comment, are going to think I'm stupid or weird or definitely not funny. I'm worried someone is going to take my words the wrong way and be offended. I'm worried they're going to roll their eyes in annoyance and mute me and I'll never know because they're doing it behind their screen. And Heaven forbid I make a spelling mistake - I'll delete that Tweet real quick and pray that no one has noticed when I post it again.
 
Replying to other people's Tweets is an issue for me. I can't count the number of times I've gone to reply to someone, only to delete it before I can press send. What if they don't answer? What if my reply shows up on someone else's feed and then they can see that the person hasn't replied to me? That would be so embarrassing. It's like being in a room full of people and I'm trying to join into the conversation but every time I try they ignore me and everyone else is there to witness it. At least, that's what it feels like. I know there are a million reasons why someone won't reply to me and I'm not expecting everyone to go out of their way to, either. It's just in that moment, my silly anxiety brain takes over. It whispers to me that no one likes me, that everyone wishes I'd disappear.

I also feel this weird pressure to construct a perfect version of myself to post online. Every Instagram photo I post, every blog comment I write, every Tweet I retweet on Twitter... it all adds up to something that represents me and the past few months I've spent way too much time analysing myself. I've spent a stupid amount of time reading my own Twitter profile, watching back my Snapchat story, counting how many likes each Instagram photo collects, all because I feel this unshakeable need to be just so. There are people I feel I need to impress and it's meant that I've become less and less like myself because I want to fit into this likeable mould.

This year I feel it's really stepped up a notch. I find that feeling this way comes hand-in-hand with an increased sense of general anxiety. I've been doing so well this year but every victory comes with a few days of mental weariness and when I'm vulnerable, when my defences are down or weakened, that's when these feelings rock up. I found that I wanted to be liked for something I wasn't rather than disliked for everything I am and sometimes I still feel like that. I lost a few key parts of myself, I chopped them off and deleted them because I'm so ridiculously unconfident in myself. I put myself in a box and it got to the point that I cried for days on end because I wanted to blog but I was so hyper-aware of other people's (potentially non-existent) opinions of my photography, my grammar, my writing style. I almost quit more times than I can count and that makes me incredibly sad because my blog is one of the best things I have.
 
I want to feel completely free and comfortable enough to say whatever I want without fear of someone disliking me. I want to send those compliments and replies that I keep deleting and I want to feel a little more at peace with myself, both online and offline. It's something I definitely need to work on and I'm hoping that now I've written this post and addressed my own issue, I'll be able to overcome it. I know that all of these thoughts and feelings are a reflection of myself and not of other people and that I need to stop assuming that people are going to dislike me before I've even given them or myself a chance.

27 comments

  1. I posted about this same thing a while back! It's so reassuring to find someone that feels the same way, especially about Twitter and accidentally offending someone! The amount of times I've drafted something and had it sitting there for months because I was too afraid to post it. It's taken a lot to write this comment haha! But I really wanted to post just to let you know you aren't alone in this feeling.

    Claire | Not Normally Like This |

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  2. I really get what you mean about being shy being mistaken for being arrogant. I get so over-conscious about that and it makes me shier, which probably makes me seem even more aloof. It's such a vicious cycle. I also feel it online - I'm so over conscious of what I'm tweeting and what I'm saying to people. I even avoid doing things like congratulating someone on a good post because I'm worried they might think I'm odd. I'm trying to battle through it too

    Steph - www.nourishmeblog.co.uk

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  3. You explained this beautifully! I am a full blown lurker and only have one or two comments I actually have the courage to post. Thank you so much for posting about this!

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  4. Thanks for sharing this, it's something that I realised about myself a while ago, and didn't realise anyone else felt the same. I always see people commenting on how the internet gives them the freedom to be their selves but never seem to talk about social anxiety extending online.

    I often find myself typing out a comment or reply to a tweet, and then overthinking it and deciding not to post it, because of xyz reason I've imagined. It's super frustrating, especially as in my early internet days I v rarely thought about how other people perceived me online, it's only as I've gotten older that I've become overcritical of myself online. I'm trying to work on it too, + sending lots of good vibes your way.

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  5. I feel the same way. I always want to leave comments on popular blogs but I feel like my comment won't be read and will be flooded away. But on the other hand, I'm afraid to leave a comment on a small blogs because then I know that the author will read the post and might not respond back. That feeling of being ignored sucks.

    As for twitter, I once tweeted at someone and was being sarcastic but I guess they took it wrong way and I felt so bad afterwards that I now triple check my tweets before I reply to someone. It can be difficult communicating online but my advice to to stop caring about what others think of you and not overthink every situation. ♥

    mooeyandfriends.blogspot.com

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  6. I really relate to this - you've explained it so well! I always second guess myself when I talk to other people, especially online. I hope you're feeling more comfortable with it all soon ♥ xx

    Toasty

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