anxiety, expat, friendships, mental health, mind maps, social media, wellbeing

Social Media, Social Network, Social Connection … what’s your take on it?!

It’s not surprising, with an impending trip back “home” to the UK, that my mind has wondered of late… with my a-game focussing on family and friendships back there, compelling me to look deep into the eyes of belonging, from my past, present and into the future –  all without the help of Ebenezer Scrooge or any freaking Ghosts too, I might add!

I’m not a mean-spirited, or a miserable old woman either, it’s just that I’ve been remembering how, in my past, these intimate connections have helped me through the many up and downs in my life but… my present though, sees me feeling torn, by what really is miles!

Of course, I still have that sense of belonging, that connection, feel loved even but … freaking time zones and distance really push the limits! And eventually, the virtual hugs, small talk and big freaking talk – when the shit hits the fan – become less. It’s hard, real hard, to maintain without the day to day, in your face… LIFE together.

So how do we then go about making “new” connections and friendships … to start to belong once more?

For me, as I’ve gotten older, “making friends” still feels a lot like first day’s at school. Then, I’d sit back in the playground, taking everything in from the side lines, wanting to be left alone in the crowd but at the same time, look out for the head girl, who’s the most liked? who has the most friends? Yet I knew that, even if I figured this out, I still wouldn’t know how or where to start! … and nope, it’s not got any easier, as I’ve found a much bigger and better playground? … the one of Social Media!

Yeah, I know it has its positives and negatives and we’ll all have our opinion on Social Media  – but as always – it’s all about how well you’re playing your a-game, right?!  Let’s not forget, it’s YOU that truly matters and it’s YOU that can directly affect or change the game YOU are playing.

So, in this new playground … I’m thinking pigtails and hockey stick, who’s with me?!!

Seriously though, how do we go about meeting and starting to play with others on here? I’m not just talking about hitting the like, adding a comment or clicking that follow button! Maybe, our a-game can really help build and strengthen meaningful relationships, making connections easier and bringing about a sense of belonging? Have you ever considered how your attachment style might impact on your friendships?

Back at school, we were told the rules … nurtured and directed by our parents and teachers, moulded by these experiences. But that was then and this is now! Things have changed somewhat, pigtails maybe out?!  So, thinking afresh, what’s the first thing you think we should be considering if we’re serious about making new friendships and connections today?

Well, for me, I think it’s all about understanding how comfortable we’re going to feel being emotionally close or intimate with others, maybe even depending on them – or maybe even having them dependent on us. Which, for certain people, can sometimes lead to that good old fear of rejection or abandonment raising itself, possibly even bringing out a certain amount anxiety.

So, here’s my next, personal – warts and all – insight …

I’m comfortable with intimacy and not that worried about possible rejection. In fact, I find it easier now to get close others, being able to trust and depend on them… as well as having them depend on me. I don’t worry about being abandoned or about someone getting too close to me.

There is one big caveat to this statement though … and that is that I do set myself clear boundaries. Which, as a topic, would be a whole other blog itself and so rather than cover it here, I’ve included this link for you to ponder on later!

Anyway – and not unusual for me – the prize piece of perfection I laid out in my statement above has not always been and is still not always true… Going back to my earlier school story, I did in fact find it extremely difficult to trust and depend on others and this manifested itself in many ways depending on any given situation.

Growing up, I found it very important to feel and be both independent and self-sufficient. At times though, this led me to question the commitment and love of others towards me. For example, when I was in a relationship, I’d worry that they didn’t love or value me and that they might abandon me… resulting in an innate need for love, intimacy and closeness from them. Freaking crazy I know, as of course, the resulting suffocation would have nothing but the opposite affect and drive them away!

On the flip side of this though, I found that I just couldn’t allow others to get close. I found I was not able to trust or depend on anyone! I’ve certainly swung from one extreme to another in life, but I’ve now finally freaking found my happy medium, a mixture of traits as such and besides… who wants to fit into a box. My names not Jack and I sure as hell don’t want a spring stuck up my arse thank you very much!

Reflecting all of this “history” against my most important and intimate relationship (poor hubby!) provides me with the ultimate insight. I’ve come to realise that I really am comfortable in a warm, loving, emotionally close relationship. I love the fact that I can depend on my him and allow him to depend on me. I adore his “independent-ness” without feeling rejected or threatened and he encourages and supports mine. We can be both close AND independent. We’ve become trusting, tolerate each other’s differences and have each had to be forgiving at times.  We’ve learnt to recognise our own emotions as well as one another’s (he’s good right… for a man?!)

The Knoll Cumbria Wedding Photography by Schtuff 20150718_9628 (2).jpg

I’ll admit we are very “blunt” to one another at times, in an open, honest, candid way and we do NOT avoid conflict. In fact, generally, we just don’t seem to get overly upset or worry about relationship issues, at all. I can’t help but think that this is probably down too experience gained from prior relationships – for both of us – although, getting used to someone “new” is never easy. Maybe it’s just an age thing? I do consider us both “old farts” now… but then again, are we?

Anyway, comparing this to where I was in a previous relationship of mine, one which I considered abusive, I was emotionally distant, rejecting even. True, I was great in a crisis… but devoid of emotion, bottling them all up to avoid any potential conflict… thriving on being needed and depended upon. I was cool, controlled, self-sufficient. Then, my anxiety would rear its freaking ugly head, I’d be constantly worried about rejection and abandonment. I’d ruminate and bring up old, yet unresolved issues, tainting the present with the past… bringing forth, resentment, fear, hurt and anger. I became sensitive to actions and moods. I hate to admit it, but sometimes I’d even provoke reactions through conflict, stirring things up…”

So, why am I telling you all this?

Well, I suppose, it’s to try and share, if not explain, how I’ve come to understand and define what “belonging” or “connecting” with someone means … to me. My reflections on past experiences and that of the loving, intimate friendship I have in my present, have allowed me to discover and accept that fine balance that exists between comfort, closeness, intimacy, dependency… and possible rejection. 

With this realisation, I’m now able to apply the same concept to any future connection I’m looking to make … be that on Social Media or in the real world! I simply start by asking myself how comfortable am I to become close or dependent on this person… or to be depended on by them and whether I’m worried by, or fear rejection? How I respond to these questions, enables me to then set boundaries on how much I let someone in!

So, that’s me… but how about you? How do you go about making new connections? What’s your thoughts on Social Media “friends”? Truthfully, I can say that I’ve met some of the most amazing, beautiful people through the various Websites and Apps I am on and feel comfortable and close to many I’ve met… what about you?

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Heaps of love and wellness

 

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10 thoughts on “Social Media, Social Network, Social Connection … what’s your take on it?!”

  1. Hi Sarah,

    Wow, quite a post! So, here’s an equally honest answer. I have come and gone with social media, being part of it, then setting it aside. I know that I absolutely can not connect with tons of people online – it takes too much of my time. It’s like you are maintaining a “second self”. At one time, I wanted lots of comments on my blog – why? Just to feel “important” I think. Now I try not to care, I am writing for me. In fact it is exhausting to me to respond to tons of people on IG and blog comments.

    I never was one to have a lot of friends, even though in middle school and high school I wished I was popular! We seem to think the popular people have the best life, right? Instead I have a few good friends, and acquaintances where it makes sense, like work.

    Back to social media, I feel I have enough connection with those I have a real-life relationship with, namely my husband. However, there are some people on social media that can connect with me in a way people in real life can’t, thus I do have a few relationships, like with you 🙂 And I do look for more as appropriate – is it a positive addition to my life for the time spent is usually my thought. And of course I want to be a positive addition to theirs – thus the reason I am happy connecting with only a few….

    Lisa

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, as always, for reading Lisa

      I empathise with the “second self” and at times wanting the sense of importance … it’s addictive and l’ve questioned often, is it a stage we have to go through on Social Media? Also, as numbers grow interactions change and that sense of quality gets taken over by quantity … and where does the sense of self go then?! In my experience “down the pan” … as you try to give more and more, emptying, draining who you ultimately are and what you can give?

      Like you l’ve never really done numbers for numbers sake, can we leave that for the big lotto win, can we ????!!!😂🤣 and from my experience l’ve seen that popularity is not always the “best life” … although l do admire those that thrive and give, with massive follower numbers … there are always exceptions to every rule and l’d love to hear how they manage and feel about their connections.

      Anyway, it’s wonderful to have a choice, to define boundaries and our own set of rules to play by. Like you l feel that my a-game is sorted in my mind. I’ve a sense of my “why” and that feels freaking fantastic!

      It’s great to read that you’ve found that too, kindred spirits in a world made of wonderful varied connections …

      Sarah xx

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi both,
        Thought I’d reply here instead of separately since I enjoyed both your comments. 🙂 I too never had a huge number of friends at school – I was much more of the ‘have a few best friends’ type (and I moved around a lot as a child, so it was always changing anyway). I think being quite introverted I’ve always been happy NOT to have a large number of friends, as it gets ‘too much’… And I think that goes for social media too. The genuine connection is more important than the large numbers, and that’s the part that I value the most.
        On the other hand, it was engaging in those social media ‘building’ activities that led me to the people where I then developed a genuine connection with – so perhaps it’s not black and white either. 🙂 A bit like the dating websites, sometimes broader engagement is required to sift through and create lasting relationships!
        Love, Erin

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks for reading Erin!

        l can’t imagine you on a dating website 😉😂🤣 … but yes l agree it’s the building of an account that sees the real connections made … we will not be friends with everyone … as in life some connections run deeper 😊 😘😍

        Like

  2. Hi Sarah. Such a timely post for me. As I was reading it, I was messaging my husband, whose only recently taken a post away in a ‘non family’ duty station, I’m in Jordan We’re struggling with the new way of life and only have social media to stay connected. The rest of my family and friends are in Australia or spread to other corners of the globe, so I rely heavily on social media in to order to keep in touch, to feel a part of their lives and them mine. I use skype to talk face-to-face to my parents and thats good to keep connected. But there are times when I need to hug them, not virtually…. or to just sit side by side my husband without talking and just be – participate in LIFE together. Social media is a substitute but whens its all I have, I’ll use it to the best I can. Thank you for your insight and honesty, it is comforting. Karen

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading Karen …

      I’m sorry to read that you’re struggling, it can be a difficult time initially and everyone comes us up with wonderful solutions and suggestions … and yes eventually we find our own way of sorts … but it all takes time to adjust and it can be … well, a sad time as well as it being exciting?

      I honesty think l speak more regularly to my parents via Skype and find out more what’s going on with family via Facebook, although that said, not actually being part of it can be sad too.

      Social Media has allowed me to venture out from my real or at times perceived isolation. l’ve found like minded people to start to make connections with and ultimately make real LIFE friendships … it has, as a whole, been a positive experience and l hope that you’ll find that to be the case too!

      How do you connect with like minded people in your new area Karen?

      It’s pleasing to hear that reading this has brought you comfort and l look forward to hearing how your new way of life moves forward…

      Sarah x

      Like

  3. Hi lovely, I have finally got to read one of your A-game posts and this blog!

    I have changed with social media over the years, as I have grown and changed, my time on social media has changed. I used to be someone who always posted everyday on Facebook etc..now as I am changing, I’m realising what’s important and trying to put my energy into my family and having face to face quality time with positive people in my life. I also have realised I need to put more energy into working on myself too. I’ve always not had many friends but I think that’s for good reason. I can get overwhelmed with too many people in my life to give my all too, I want to be fully there for my friends and feel as if I can get to everyone to catch up and be a good friend. Like you though, I have met alot of like minded people (including yourself) through social media which I love but it can also leave me with guilt for not keeping in touch enough or being a good friend. I’m usually all or nothing which I need to work on too. 😚😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading Meaghan …

      Your insight and reflection is wonderful to read and although you express feelings of guilt, not keeping in touch enough, or not giving your all, l feel the boundaries you’ve put in place appear very healthy.

      You focus on family life and self improvement all admirable and wonderful choices for you and your family.

      True friends will stand the test of time and of course, with anything in life, some will pass through your life as such. I don’t really know what totally defines a good friend, but if l feel good in someone’s company then that’s good enough …

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts … 😘😍

      Like

  4. When I read your blog, I feel like you’ve been in my head rumageing around in there! I think, she’s written this just for me! 😂 You have such insight, it truly is a gift that you are willing to share this with us, complete strangers who now call you friend! ❤️I have connected with few on social media, because I’m scared, 😳 but your pictures drew me in and it started there. Now through your site, my world has expanded . The fact that you take time to respond to all of us doesn’t go unnoticed. It is amazing! You have inspired me to share my delightful life by using #agame🐞 And I never would have dreamed of doing something like that before finding you, my dear Sarah ❤️ You mean so much to so many love ! It seems silly, but for a small town girl, you’ve opened the world up, thank you…..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cristy l had goosebumps reading this!!!

      Thank you so much for your kind words and thoughts. The #agame🐞 was and is about us finding what keeps us well, happy almost. Seeing that you’re inspired, sharing your delightful life openly and doing that obviously lights you up, is heart warming and more than l ever thought was possible when writing these posts …

      Thank you so much for the feedback and opening your world up to us.

      Sarah x

      Like

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