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My Month of Sanity & Not Posting: A Social Media Power User Chooses to Touch Some Grass

First, I should probably mention that I lifted the title of this post from Dr. Devon Price's Medium entry:

My Week of Sanity & Not Posting

One of the things I mentioned when I created this smol blog all those eons ago (and then promptly ignored while I went and sought out yet another hit from the social media feeding tube) was how torn I was about my interaction with online social spaces. I am on Twitter and Instagram every day. Occasionally, a friend will send along a TikTok, and I make the mistake of reinstalling the app and get sucked into a vortex that I am convinced literally steals life like the Six-Fingered Man's torture machine. In a world increasingly reliant upon online spaces for interpersonal connection, all my social interactions are conducted through text messages, zoom calls, tweets, and shitposting.

Part of the therapy work I have taken on is to work on mindfulness, and even before reading Devon's post, it was apparent that something needed to shift. I used to be a creative person driven to write essays and excitedly explore my interests. When I take the time to reflect upon myself now, I see a pretty empty shell of that former self.

About six months ago, I began to suspect that my ADHD diagnosis was an incomplete picture; my experience of the world did not closely match that of other ADHDers or even the criteria. Undoubtedly, there was something at play that made things difficult for me. This sense of un-fitting led me to read broadly about Autism (including Devon's book UNMASKING AUTISM). I don't have the resources to pay another $1000 for an ASD assessment in addition to the ADHD assessment. I also live in a place that doesn't have resources for Autistic adults—for instance, the one specialist I could find that specified working with adults now only focuses on children.

This experience has been liberatory in many ways. I see a lot of my own experience reflected in what I read, and it is nice to have a sense that there is an explanation for some of my limitations, struggles, and quirks with which I have always grappled. It is strange to think that a string of letters can help me create a map of understanding I didn't have before.

A friend is completing her Ph.D., and after her name comes "Ph.D. ABD," which makes me want to sign my name Malobee, ASD CPTSD. I am an expert on fear and hyper-focusing, after all.

You may be asking what ASD and social media have to do with one another. A complex interplay is at play here that touches upon self-worth, self-discovery, mindfulness, social anxiety, obsessive behaviors, and fear. Unfortunately, I do not have a very high opinion of myself from decades of criticism and abuse. This led me to fear that if I remove the frameworks that have worked for me (online spaces), I will be isolated and too fearful of venturing into physical areas to expand my social circle in person. Through years of maskin, I have created a pretty gray world for myself, and I hid my obsessive tendencies away—I honestly don't think I have had a genuine interest in how I used to in many years. Part of unmasking has been to let go of some of the restrictions I have imposed upon myself, and things like special interests were the subject of much social ridicule. What if, in my quest to live authentically, I open myself up to ridicule (fear again)?

Mindfulness is the last piece here, primarily because I struggle with it as a concept. I am generally unaware of my body or find it loathsome to feel very present within it. I am ALARMED to discover that I do, in fact, have a material form! I have difficulty identifying my feelings even though I have been hyper-sensitive and overwhelmed by feelings my entire life. Therapy has been essential and irritating in this way—it has forced me to start taking stock of all of this and be present in my discomfort with it. And that has led me here: Social media makes me anxious and unhappy. It impacts how I think about myself and my ideas and has sapped me of creativity.

How am I supposed to be creative when the way that I think about my own thoughts is, "How do I change this to receive more clout?"

The above brings me back to Devon's post. I did not read it before dramatically printing off all of my passwords, giving them to T, and telling them to lock them in a safe to which I don't know the passcode. I did not read it before then deleting all of my passwords from my keychains, so I have no way of logging in on any device (because, of course, I can't remember a 15-character randomly generated password). But now, two days after that flurry, I am sad and feel bereft, and I keep reaching for my phone to fill the space with myself with a distraction that is not there.

It was essential to see that another person found that being left with one's thoughts, away from shitposting and the eternal outward expression of rage found on social media, is a little bit sad and melancholy. Can one month away from social media cure me of Autism and social anxiety? Probably not. But I am hoping it can make me a bit more mindful and that I can perhaps reconnect with parts of myself that I had forgotten.

Because my decision was one made impulsively and out of despair, I didn't bother setting rules for myself, but I liked the rules that Devon imposed (mainly because brains can be sneaky at finding loopholes and justifying behaviors in which you do not want to engage). I will repost them here:

I don't know what this will bring, but I can say that day two feels like quitting smoking. You feel like shit and irritable because your brain keeps cycling back to a thing that you can't have. It is not very fun! And it is alarming that this effect has been so potent. Is it just me, or are we all doing this to ourselves all the time (the latter, methinks)? I wish myself luck and will be keeping a log of each day. Also, I will probably post it here at the end of it all for posterity. In the end, I can't escape the net entirely, at least not yet.

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