Intense Social Anxiety on Facebook

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Intense Social Anxiety on Facebook

Post by Johnny » Fri Mar 04, 2016 5:54 am

Hello All,
My anxiety revolving around Facebook is one of the hardest things for me to overcome as I feel that I am in the spotlight. Ever since the site started in 2004 I never felt comfortable on it as I felt like I never measured up to what my peers were doing. I was only able to look at my time feed, looking at others' photos and subsequently had been feeling inadequate as a result. For the longest time I have been battling social anxiety ever since I was 13. I am 23 now. It started when I had a troubling experience at a private school I was sent to in grade 10. I struggled to fit in at this school and it triggered my anxiety which made me feel very distant from everyone. I left after that year however the damage had already been done. Facebook had always been the source that reminded me of that time period as I had people from that school as Facebook friends. Over the years I was able to log in, only to look at others' profiles. I however never felt comfortable updating mine and changing my profile picture. I have only uploaded one photo which served as my profile picture over all these years. It was only the past year where I had made strides in defeating my social anxiety that I had been able to log in more. However it is the embarrassment of my Facebook profile that really stings me. It looks like I was hiding all this time. I have always been tagged in several of friends' photos. However the fact that I have never changed my profile picture is just immensely troubling for me.

Having avoided to make posts on the site for years I now always second guess myself every time I want to make a post on something that I find on the internet, fearing that I would be judged negatively with people being able to look closer into my life. I fear not getting many likes or comments and people consequently thinking I don't know many people. I ultimately fear losing the respect of many people. Its an exaggerated and irrational fear. It just seems so hard to overcome. I have been trapped on this issue for quite some time now, for a year actually.

It has been draining me of my energy, gotten in the way of my studies and keeps me constantly thinking/fearing about it. I have been trapped for awhile and am afraid to come out into the open on the site fearing that I would be in the spotlight and people would judge me as my external representation of my life does not measure up to them. Facebook is the one thing keeping me from fully staying present as it keeps me stuck in the past. I have no control over others going through my time line history to analyze my social life represented on Facebook. It feels like it is the magnifying glass that everyone can use to look into my life.

I have been battling the idea of whether or not I should change my profile picture for the past year now having always come short, unable to do so. I feel like I am in a no win situation. The reason being is that I fear deleting my account as I feel that my friends may wonder why I had done so, putting me more in the spot light and may make my social anxiety worse. I however feel very intimidated to use it as well. I would like to upload and change my profile picture however I get sooo embarrassed by how it is the second profile picture that I am putting up while all of my friends have several profile pictures. I also get embarrassed by the lack of friend pictures I have in comparison with my peers. This traces back to the shame I have about my high school experience. I was never able to develop close friends in high school, having been in three different schools.

This issue is really preventing me from focusing on other things such as my priorities and goals. The site has always been an overwhelming supply of information being thrown at me. I always see my University friends and acquaintances always sharing pictures online and I always feel beat down as I feel unable to do so as well. My whole life its like I wanted to be hidden from Facebook as I feel like it was the magnifying glass into my life, which I was uncomfortable about.

The weird thing about my anxiety on Facebook is that I am a lot more comfortable and not anxious when I am around these people in public. In person I am able to socialize with these people without anxiety and I know a lot of them respect and like me. But the uncertainties of having the same affection and care on social media is something that I am really struggling to get over. I am just really insecure about my social life and how it compares to others'. Any form of spiritual advice would be greatly appreciated.

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Re: Intense Social Anxiety on Facebook

Post by dijmart » Fri Mar 04, 2016 10:28 pm

I don't see the problem? So you don't feel comfortable with social media? So what? It's not a requirement for survival. I'm sorry, but I just can't take this seriously at all. Then again I'm old enough to remember when there was no fb and kids use to play outside after school.

Here's my advice...don't go on fb. Problem solved.
Take what you like and leave the rest.

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Re: Intense Social Anxiety on Facebook

Post by GermanEnlightenment » Sat Mar 05, 2016 6:28 pm


Oh my god, you remind me so much of myself. :D I only registered on Facebook like last year even though I´m already 24 now and the site has been arround forever. And like you I felt embarassed at the time to create a profile because I was afraid of being juged by my content and my lack of hundreds of friends. The thing is though you don´t have to be on facebook, it´s not an requirement. In fact, since my registration I probably posted only 5 or so new entries and I only have about 27 friends there. What´s the point of adding countless friends to your friend-list if you just write superficial stuff with them or like something that they put up? I communicate with my friends mostly via whatsapp or text messages, almost none of them cares about Facebook.

But yeah, the way you write about it implies that there are deeper fears at work here, mostly the fear of exposing yourself. You don´t want people to see that you don´t do something extraordinary every week or know a lot of "cool" people or hang out in "cool" places. And if you post something like f.e. a certain kind of music that you enjoy, you are afraid that people won´t like it and judge you for it. I got you. But I would suggest continue doing it. Post all you want there, let people know who you really are. No matter how obscure it is. Even if you fear that people will like you less for it (which isn´t really the case anyway). At least then they can experience the real you!

In our society we are so used to hide certain aspects of our personality. We only want people to see our "good" sides and hide the ones that they should see. When we were young, most of us were raised with the punishment and reward-system which basically means that if you do something "good" like obeying, not disagreeing with your parents you were rewarded, but if you did something "bad" like throwing a tantrum, showing "negative" emotions like fear, anger, sadness etc. you were scolded and love was withheld from you. You have to see for yourself if that´s true for you as well.
But that´s really the reason behind your whole behaviour which hits really close to my heart as I was in the same painful place once as you are. You want people to approve of you and you fear their criticiscm because you feel like it has a lot of power over you. However, it´s your decision how to interpret people not approving of you. But you´re probably so deep in your thoughts now that you can´t take a step back and see that you are the one creating the problem. On the surface nothing happens. You post something on facebook and people respond to it or not. However your mind makes it into a painful experience of measuring your self-worth through other people´s responses.

The way out of is, of course, through meditation. I don´t know if you have any experience with it but what I would suggest to you is starting slowly. Maybe start with 5 minutes a day and expand from there. Every day, sit down, close your eyes and just let go. This means, whatever thoughts or emotions come up, let them be. There´s no need to analyse or fight those thoughts and emotions. Let it all wash over you.
I won´t lie to you, in the beginning a lot of negative thoughts and feelings will come up, but it doesn´t matter. Understand that those painful feelings were created a long time ago when you were a child and they are now looking for a way out of your body. They are stuck there because they were not felt at the time they arose in your past. I can assure you that this process works. I went from being a frightened young man who felt disconnected from everyone, fearing myself and the whole world and not being able to have a girlfriend to someone who is at ease probably 90 per cent of the time (well, who could give a number?). I now feel free in social settings and I can easily talk to people and connect. When I see how far I´ve come, I sometimes still feel that my life is like a dream now. I can hardly believe that I´m living the same life. :) And you can have that too!

Trust the process no matter how painful those feelings might be! If you do this meditation constantly you will feel much lighter in your body after a certain time. For me it took about 2 mounts until I realited how much space there is in me by getting rid of all this emotional baggage.
"Happiness / Something in my own place / I'm standing naked / Smiling, I feel no disgrace / With who I am/ I´m a lucky man...with fire in my hands"
(The Verve - Lucky Man)

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Re: Intense Social Anxiety on Facebook

Post by DavidB » Sun Mar 06, 2016 3:24 am

I have a FB account too, but I rarely ever use it. To honest, I can't be bothered. I don't care to find out what people are up to and I have zero interest in keeping people informed about what I'm doing. I just don't care.

My primary goal is to know who I am at the deepest level, everything else is secondary and more or less superfluous. If anything but my primary goal becomes elevated above primary, then I know that I have again become taken over by the ego.

This doesn't mean that I can't be effective in everything else that I do, it simply means that everything but my primary goal is only ever relatively important, but never absolutely important.

Apart from knowing who you are at the deepest level, perspective and context are probably two of the most important thing we can learn, as well as peace, contentment and serenity.
“Wisdom is knowing I am nothing, Love is knowing I am everything, and between the two my life moves.” ― Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

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