You are an addict.
“What?” you protest. “I am a moderate drinker and haven’t smoked the green stuff since that fateful Saturday night in college.”
“Have you checked your cell phone lately?” I counter.
You nod. Sheepishly. In fact, you have checked your cell phone apps three times since clicking on my Psych Central link.
The cell phone is our society’s teddy bear and blankie. We are scared and, yes, feel naked without our favorite accessory. While I have misplaced my wallet — sigh — numerous times, my cell phone is nestled in my coat pocket. Without fail.
As my iPhone shakes, rattles, and rolls in my pocket, I immediately check my phone for latest Facebook rants and Twitter raves. Facebook messaging my close friend for her birthday, social media’s imprint (arguably tattoo) dawns on me once and for all. Instead of authentic conversations, we buzz our friends with text messages, Facebook memes, and Instagram recipes. But as we hashtag the latest catchphrase, we lose our #humanity and, in the process, exacerbate our mental health woes.
“How so?” you grumble. Or text. Or Facebook message.
As mental health consumers, we are skillful at using technology to conceal our mental health trials. It is more than the cheery Facebook message or uplifting Facebook meme. During depressive days, we rely on technology to communicate — isolating ourselves from human interaction.
When I was in the throes of my depressive episode, I was glued to my cell phone. Instead of actively coping with my depressive/anxious thoughts, I retreated into my apartment with my cell phone in tow. Embarrassed about my slumping mental health and dwindling employment prospects, I perfected my avoidance strategies — screening family members’ phone calls and distancing myself from long-time friends. My human connection: a Facebook rant or Twitter observation. And under my sunny or cheeky social media musings, I deluded my family and friends about my mental health trials and tribulations.
Yes, social media was a bigger escape that the most extravagant cruise. But unlike a dreary job or frayed relationship, I was trying to escape my own inner turmoil. For all the Facebook likes and Twitter retweets, I was social in name only. And, not surprisingly, my mental health floundered.
When substituting real life for the Twitterverse or Facebook fame, it is time to reevaluate your socialization strategies. Instead of engaging in trademark avoidance — distracting yourself from spiking worry and anxiety through Facebook and Twitter, may I suggest something more useful to avoid: social media.
Now that is a “status update” I will give a thumbs up to.