My Social Media Silence

I’ve gotten to the point where I dread the moment that anyone asks for my social media handles. Don’t get me wrong— I do love staying in touch with others. I just dread the questions that come along when any new eyes glance through my profile.

“Why don’t you post any pictures?”

“Why is there nothing on your timeline?”

“How come all your tweets are only retweets from other accounts?”

Even after all of these years of having social media accounts, I’ve yet to come up with a socially acceptable answer. My first experience of having a blank profile was on Facebook in middle school. Being a shy kid, I looked to social media as a way of expressing myself to those around me without having to verbalize what I’m thinking. I would post status updates by the minute, change my profile picture by the week, and I loved it. While there wasn’t a particular event that caused my silence, I know it has to do with my fear of being perceived by others. 

I remember one night in my tween years, I suddenly became aware that people were looking at my posts— and maybe even talking about them with their friends. This seems like an obvious revelation, and nowadays, it’s more common to know that what you put out into the internet may be seen by anyone. Not for me— this revelation hit me like a ton of bricks, and I anxiously began scrubbing away my existence on Facebook. I went from excitedly discussing the details of my day with my Facebook friends to radio silence, and it stayed this way for a while. I worked up the courage to have a profile picture again and prepared myself for my biggest goal of getting an Instagram account. Now that I have an Instagram account, I’m happy I can finally see what my friends and favourite celebrities are up to— posting anything is always an anxiety-ridden process that only leads to emotional exhaustion for me.

I wish I could tie up this article in a pretty bow, and tell you everything has gotten better for me and now I have this beautiful relationship with social media that I cherish. The one skill that I have gained over the years of my silence is self-compassion. Instead of hating myself for not engaging with my friends' posts or being unable to post my own pictures, I try to understand my fears and validate my own thoughts. Although it started small for me, overcoming my fears and hitting the “Sign up” button on Instagram was something I’m still proud of. I have faith in myself that continuing to be compassionate with myself and understanding my fears will only lead me to create and maintain a healthy relationship with social media, whatever that looks like for me.