I have issues with control. Self-control. I battle with control over my food intake; taking care of my body; limiting myself. If no one is around to see it or comment, I tend to over indulge chips or Oreos. So, my answer is to not have them around.
I tend to behave similarly with my online socializing.
Years ago before Twitter, Plurk, Facebook and Myspace there was the chat room. More specifically AOL. America Online. The contacts and chats through AOL helped me through a very lonely divorce. Knowing someone on the other side of the monitor appeared to care and sympathize was just what I thought I needed. It wasn't, of course. That's not to say I didn't meet some genuine people as a result of my chat addiction. Unfortunately, the whackadoodles outweighed the sincere friends.
I managed to break the habit due to some good old fashioned drama and humiliation. I went cold turkey. I canceled my account and that was all she wrote.
In 2005 my son and I packed up everything we could bring on a plane and we moved from Georgia, which had been our residence since '97, and returned to Kankakee, Illinois. I had high hopes that my life would just fall into place. We'd be surrounded by those we love and my loneliness would come to an end.
While family helps, it's not the answer. I learned that my kin had all continued to move forward with their lives. Though they missed us, our lack of presence hadn't hindered them. My ego is not so huge to think I have that intense of an impact. But the little girl that remains in the back of my mind was hoping for a big, pink parade for my return.
What I needed was contact with people who didn't know my past. I longed to be accepted and receive compassion from a source that didn't carry my genetics.
So, in the course of four years I have befriended people from all over the globe. The blogs of the St. Petersburg Times in Florida served as a flood gate of 'friending.' But without realizing it, I was becoming addicted. I would learn that rather than being a welcome presence, I apparently was annoying in my numerous comments. Heartbreaking to say the very least. That is never something I would strive to be: unwelcome.
Through a connection on those blogs, I learned of a Twitter-like social networking site called Plurk. I've never tweeted so I am not fully clear on the difference between the two. I know Plurk isn't a festering cesspool of celebrity gathering. The people on Plurk are regular people like me. A person plurks a comment and other people can leave remarks. It was always amusing to see where a simple phrase would go. The threads would often detour from the original subject. Humor often ensued. Closeness and camaraderie developed. This is a strange concept to people who've never participated in such an activity. Baring your soul to virtual strangers??? That's wacky! Believe it or not, those "strangers" have been the source of major support.
That unconditional support is what makes my recent decision so difficult. Plurk had become another means for me to hide out. It served as the Band-Aid I so desperately needed. But with me, what happens when I just cover up emotional wounds, wants or needs is that I become dependent. In time, that Band-aid becomes more of a hindrance. It begins to smother the wound and before you know it it's a foreign object leeching into your bloodstream. I was turning to the people on Plurk rather than reaching out to flesh and bone. While I know they are real people, I was becoming dependent on written words. What's bad about it is that I have little else going on in my life. Again. Everybody else is moving forward and I'm stuck in this computer chair hoping someone will be around to talk to me ... feed my fragile ego. I'd sit in wait for new information to be posted. Time ticking away in my domain while they were going on with life.
Life is too short to sit around and wait. and wait. and wait.
I tell my son that the best way to overcome your fears is to face them head on. Stare them in the face and never concede. Don't let fear conquer your spirit.
Some role model I am. I can't face my fears of rejection, abandonment, intimacy (not sex, mind you). It's a hefty load, but I keep people at arm's length. The Internet is an ideal place for someone like me who has those aforementioned issues.
So, I bid my friends on Plurk farewell with my email address attached. I'll continue to read their blogs. I've removed those St. Pete blogs from my homepage on yahoo. That should help me in my quest to comment with moderation. As for Facebook? Well, it's my connection to old fleshy friends and family. Plus, it serves as a groovy means of promoting what I write here.
Social networking has its place. I think it's a wonderful tool. But if you have emotional defects like me, it can do more harm than good in the long run. I hope and pray those people with whom I became closest will continue to be in touch. It will take effort on my part to reach out and maintain the friendships. I suck at that and I know that is another aspect of my personality (and fear) that I must confront and overcome.