Let’s talk social media. No, I’m not going to tell you all of the benefits or all of the drawbacks to it. You’ve heard all of those before and I’m sure you’ll hear all of them again. Instead I want to tell you what social media has done for me.
I am an introvert, I suffer from PTSD, and I am bipolar I. That doesn’t make it easy to be around people. I’ve always had a hard time making friends and keeping them. In fact, of all the friends I made during my high school years, there’s only one I still talk to. The ones from my college years are all gone.
I used to play in a table top RPG group. That was both fun and difficult at the same time. Fun because I could use my imagination freely. Difficult because I was around people that got really exuberant at times. Loud voices are one of my triggers so it could sometimes lead to me needing a few minutes of quiet to compose myself. A lengthy trip to the bathroom was usually my way of dealing with it. Or sitting inside while everyone else went out to smoke.
But we moved away from those friends and I became even more isolated. I was drowning in a sea of loneliness but was too anxious to do much. I tried going out with Tims but he and his friends were often loud and that didn’t help my anxiety. I didn’t know what I was going to do. Then came Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, WordPress, and Tumblr. And suddenly a whole new world opened up for me.
I met my two closest friends on Facebook – Joelle and Deborah. Joelle and I started talking when I asked a question about BDSM. Deborah and I started talking because we were in one of the same writing groups. Joelle and I now talk to each other every day through IM. Deborah and I exchange daily emails, she’s come to visit me once, and I plan on making a return visit since she’s only about two hours away from the farm.
I’ve also made a whole host of other friends, people who notice when I’m offline for a while. People who are there to talk to when I need a shoulder to cry on. If I post about my depression, they offer support. If I talk about something exciting, they’re right there to celebrate with me. They wish me a happy birthday, something my own family (other than my husband…he doesn’t forget) couldn’t even manage this year.
Social media has made it so I can socialize, have friends, and talk to people I’d certainly never have had a chance to before – such as my friends in Europe, Asia, and Australia. Hell, even in different parts of the US and Canada. I’d never have gotten to know any of you without social media.
Yes, social media can be a real time sink. It can be a distraction at the wrong moment. It can be used to bully people with impunity through anonymity. There is a dark side to it. But there is still so much good in it and I appreciate all it has done for me. And I want to thank all of you for your friendship and your care over the time we’ve known each other, as it has meant the world to me. I hope for many more years with all of you and one day to maybe even meet more of you in real life, with the ice broken because of our social media experiences.