Online and Anxious
How much anxiety do you have about what you post online? Is it worded right? Is it too personal? Will people think you’re too needy? Ignorant? Happy? For some people, status updates are a release… and for some, that very release is also the source of anxiety.
The following is a guest post from my friend Sarah Fader.
She blogs at Old School New School Mom.
She posts on Facebook… a lot.
Seriously. A lot.
Being online is a scary place for an anxious person. I know, that
sounds redundant, right? Well, it’s the truth. I live a lot of my life
online. I’m a writer and I talk about myself and my kids on the
Internet. Back in the 90s it wasn’t cool to be online. People who were
behind computer screens were considered nerds. Now the culture of
nerd-dom is awesome and everyone and their mama (literally) has a
Facebook account. I know my mama has one. #JustSaying.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? I ACTUALLY JUST USED A HASHTAG? NOW I AM
YELLING AT YOU BECAUSE CAPLOCKS.
What was I talking about? Oh yeah, nerds and anxiety. Anyway, so I
have always been a writer Ever since I could hold a pencil, which by
the way was challenging for me since I never crawled and had
occupational therapy issues, but yeah, I write.
So nerds are cool now, and the earth is flipped upside down. It’s
great that writers are everywhere and we can share all the relevant
and not so relevant information about ourselves at all hours of the
day. I like it. But, it also makes me more anxious than I already am,
because when I post something online, I worry.
Well, let me not start there. Back the bus up.
First of all, I have panic disorder. So my mind is on speed. I am
always thinking all the time. I have my keys in my hand in case I have
to fight someone or unlock a door. I’m ready for you like a 5’3”
Jewish ninja. I can take you.
My brain is a fun yet scary place to live. It’s a non-stop party in
there and the partygoers don’t go home, they fall asleep on the
neurotransmitter couches for increments of a few hours maybe if I am
I am anxious about life.
This translates to every area of my life.
The thoughts are racing through my brain and I have to get them out. I
think something random like – I wish I’d had braces as a child because
now I’m old and grind my teeth at night. The thought won’t go away
even though I tell it too. So I need to get it out.
I’ll just post that on Facebook.
Then I worry that it’s stupid and boring and nobody cares about that.
And also the other bloggers are thinking I’m weird and lonely and have
no friends except my teeth.
I do have friends. They are real and they hug me and know I love hugs.
I think these things and I have to say them otherwise my brain is on
fire and i can’t stop thinking them. Also, I post the random garbage
thoughts in my brain on Twitter a lot because I don’t care as much who
reads them there.
It is anxiety-producing to be transparent online. I am raw and real
and I try on purpose not to have a filter because I spent so much of
my childhood swallowing feelings like giant horse vitamins. I want to
embrace my true self so I let it all hang out verbally. With that of
course comes a price. People are free to judge me. When I speak on a
topic, whether it’s on my blog, Facebook, Twitter, or The Huffington
Post, they come out of the woodwork with an opinion. It can make me
feel overwhelmed and uncertain of my initial opinion.
I have learned over the seven years that I have lived inside a
computer to take things with a side of fries; not with a grain of
salt. I have learned to have a sense of humor about the people who
disagree with me actively. In fact, my latest tactic when I get a
particularly hateful commenter is I friend request them on Facebook
and love on them. They must be sad. Sometimes I send people burrito
GIFs too if they are really mean.
Being online has actually been helpful for my anxiety because it has
forced me to confront parts of my personality that I would have
otherwise ignored. I don’t like to be disagreed with. I don’t think
anyone does. However, when you are putting yourself out there it’s
inevitable that not everybody is going to like your words or your
face. I actually had someone on Twitter tweet me “Fuck yo face.” And
instead of getting mad I replied, “I’m so sorry that my face offended
you. I hope that you have a beautiful day.”
Sarah Fader recently released a collection of her essays from around
the Internet and you already love her because you read this article
and you want to buy her book.
She is the CEO and Founder of Stigma Fighters, a non-profit organization
that encourages individuals with mental illness to share their
personal stories. She is an author and blogger, having been featured
on Psychology Today, The Huffington Post, HuffPost Live, and Good day
Sarah is a native New Yorker who enjoys naps, talking to strangers,
and caring for her two small humans and two average-sized cats. Like
six million other Americans, Sarah lives with panic disorder. Through
Stigma Fighters, Sarah hopes to change the world, one mental health
stigma at a time.