Social Engagement

Mpepper/ September 19, 2023/ Think Pieces

Being ignored wasn’t the worst thing that could happen to you as a kid. It was, one supposes, better than being actively bullied. But with the rise of social media and the emphasis on engagement, being ignored can feel like being buried alive.

As I work through a few personal issues, I’ve come to realize that feeling like an outcast—something that never actually bothered me much in my school days—is worse now than ever. Despite attempts to engage and fit in, it often feels like ranks are closed against me. Maybe that’s the autism; I’m simply not reading things correctly. Maybe it’s imposter syndrome. But the cold media shoulder causes my confidence to plummet. And since social media allows me to see everyone else interacting and having a nice time together, I do actually know what I’m missing.

At least, it seems that way. Certainly, social media is mostly a front. We see only what people posting want us to see.

Still, it’s hard to feel unwanted on a global stage. I’m taking a break from Twitter (X) and trying to build a new community on Bluesky, but it’s slow going despite my efforts. Only partly because Bluesky is currently an invitation-only platform (thank you to my friend Jay for giving me a coveted invite code, though I still feel very late to the party)—there are plenty of people there and having conversations, but so far my attempts to join in have been, well, ignored. Similar things happen when I post comments on YouTube. I guess I’m just doing this wrong somehow.

I’d like to think I’m worth knowing, that I have something to offer, even if only as an acquaintance. But social media can certain chip away at one’s sense of self. While bringing the world to you, it also shows you how very small and insignificant you are. (Unless, of course, you’re “somebody.”)

For some people, social media is their only outlet, their only connection to others. As an author and content creator, I’ve certainly been told that I must engage on Twitter, TikTok, and the like. And I try! I just don’t get a lot of ROI. Instead, I get to add to my already growing sense of failure. I just don’t see how that helps me.

So… I don’t know. The answer, for me, may be a social media detox. Like, for my own mental wellbeing. But I also need to find connections of some kind, somewhere… I’m just not sure how.

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