March 28, 2015 (original post here)
When I lived in Hawaii, social media was used as a way for us to share content (videos, pictures, gifs, etc) with our immediate friends. It was a way for us to quickly share funny things, and not have to waste our data. It was when I moved to the mainland social media became something I relied heavily upon.
See, I didn’t know it when I moved up here, but I’m a huge introvert. I don’t do well when it comes to meeting new people. I’m always afraid that I was going to say the wrong thing, or I might sound incompetent (Hawaii doesn’t do well with teaching proper English). I didn’t want to embarrass myself and the only way I could do that was to not talk to anybody. My first year, I kept to myself. However, I felt the need to do something to make it look like I had people to text/talk to. That’s where social media came in. It became that friend that was always there. I would feel jealous that during class people would have their phones buzzing with texts and I had nothing. So I turned on my Twitter notifications that were sent by text. That way my message icon would pop up too.
Soon, social media was a way for me to feel connected with people, since I had a difficult time connecting with other students. Being on my own without any friends was entirely new for me. To be honest it sucked and it still sucks. I’ve met some great people and it’s nice to be able to text them when I have a question about classes, however, I don’t have any girl that I can say is my best friend that I met here. My boyfriend is my best friend and I love talking to him and hanging out with him (it’s my favorite way to spend my days), but when he’s busy, I’ve got nobody.
When I watch him interact with others and I see him in new social situations, he has this amazing ability to just click with anybody. I wish I had that. He’s the social one and I’m the quiet one that fades into the background. We also have this friend who is just amazing at striking up conversations with others. He’s able to make anybody feel like they’ve been friends with him for forever. He knows enough about everything to be able to talk to anybody and connect with them. Sometimes I wonder what it’d be like if I could be like them, but I know that that isn’t who I am and I don’t want to pretend to be something I’m not. So when I fade into the background, that’s when I rely on social media. It’s my security blanket, and I don’t have to worry about being weird, because I think a lot of people on social media are a little weird and crazy.
There are drawbacks to the way I decided to cope with the loneliness. It’s taken a while for me to be able to let go of my phone when I spend time with my boyfriend (since it’s usually always attached to my hand), and he did a lot of work to make it happen. There are times when he says that he’s going to delete one of my social media apps (jokingly), and I have a panic attack on the inside and I get extremely mad at him. I know it’s stupid and I can easily install it when I get home, but it’s like taking drugs away from a junkie. It’s unbearable. For so long I’ve relied on social media to help me not feel lonely, it’s difficult to let it go. The people I follow on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, etc. they have been my “friends” ever since I moved up here. They were the ones who made me not feel alone, they helped me learn to be okay with myself, they made me feel like I belonged.
I’ve tried to cut back on relying on social media in actual social situations, but when I do, I end up feeling uncomfortable and just a part of the background. I try to be a part of the conversations and be open like my boyfriend and my other friend, but I feel so out of place and I feel like I have nothing of value to add to the conversation. So when others ask me if I’m having a good time, I fake it and say I am, but I think it’s funny how they never really notice when I walk away and just perch myself somewhere. I sit back and let them enjoy their time, while I find my way to not feel like bored/alone.
Sometimes I feel pathetic. I wish I could easily click with people, but I’m not great with small talk (makes me wonder, how’d I get so lucky to have my boyfriend? Maybe he did do all the work). I’m better when I talk to people on a personal level. I enjoy listening to their stories and getting to know them, but at the end of the day, small talk is what gets you to that point. I’ve seen how social media can hurt all types of relationships and there’s always a line that needs to be drawn, for me, it’s going to take time for me to not rely so heavily on it, but I’m slowly making my way there (I think).