I have stopped using social media. This is a break I am taking to experiment and learn about myself. I meant to stop writing this blog as well at first, but then I thought it would be good to have a record of my observations and insights along the way.
I have also started monitoring, limiting and planning my face to face social interactions. I am going to try to explain how and why I am doing this too.
The first moment was when I started noticing that my mood can be largely affected by what I see (or don't see) via my social media accounts. For example: I could become agitated and short-tempered if I saw an increase in posts about summer holidays from other people - I am going to take a wild guess here that this has something to do with me not having a summer holiday this year (again), but I have no evidence to back this up, other than that I know that this is the case. Or, another example would be how I would feel an increase in self-doubt and a reciprocal decrease in self-worth if I invested some time, thought and hope in promoting certain posts that meant something to me, and received no likes or comments for this.
In my usual analytical manner, I disected my reactions and came to the conclusion that I am putting myself "out there" for other people to judge me. What am I, a masochist?! Probably, to some degree, as many people are. However, the reasons why I did this were far from masochistic. Yes, you've guessed it - I was looking for a connection - how unoriginal and boring of me. How universal, how simple - yet deep, how endless and profound is the human search for a connection.
So I decided that this search is important, yes, but that I needed to take a step back and first of all understand my own needs when it comes to connecting with others. Nobody is immune to their childhood and the conditioning that they have been subjected to their whole life. I have a unique list of things that I expect to receive and give in any relationship, and so does everyone else. It is mainly based on my first experiences of connecting to others, so, yes - the childhood, again. This list is lost somewhere in the back of the mind for most of us, because we've learnt it by heart and our minds have developed ways of working quicker towards establishing relationships by assuming that this is what is going to happen again and again, so we don't have to do that bit of observing and understanding the finer details of other humans, right? We just get on with our familiar role in any relationship, ah, that's easy, isn't it? No. It doesn't work! Everyone has a set of many, many different needs, preferences and interpretations. Then add onto that the fact that for everyone, this elaborate selection keeps changing all the time throughout their life - more or less, depending on their personality, but we all change with what we experience and learn in life. How on Earth can we simply connect to another if we don't know what their needs are? And even more importantly: if we don't know what are ours?
Similar model of thought applies to my face to face social interactions: I would cram as many coffees, walks, meet-ups with people as possible into my little diary each week - all along longing for that moment of true connection to happen - the more I try to connect, the better my odds are, or...? Or, maybe: the more I understand what I need from that connection, the less I will have to desperately go through so many meetings feeling like I didn't quite get what I need.
So, here I am, giving myself a break from trying to connect with others, so I can reconnect with myself and check how my needs have changed lately. I am sure I will be surprised.