If you have Borderline Personality Disorder or are emotionally sensitive like me, you may have come to find social media sites like Facebook full of emotional triggers. I sometimes liken it to an "Emotional Landmine."
What do I mean by this? I have had experiences where I have been having a perfectly good day, only to feel completely and totally "set off" emotionally for any number of reasons while perusing my personal Facebook wall. Let me know if you can relate to any of these situations:
- someone has expressed a political or other viewpoint in stark contrast to my own and has done so in a demeaning manner to my perspective (the post was not addressed to me, but I saw it.) It's hard for me to resist saying anything. I may become annoyed, offended, and angry. I then get to make the choice of engaging with this person (which usually only further upsets me) ignoring them (which doesn't feel good either), or "unfriending" them (which may be extreme, but after seeing so many upsetting posts from the same person, I've been known to do it.)
- someone has posted a rude comment or image that insults people who fall into categories that my loved ones (or I) fit into. This one has been very difficult for me to handle, especially when it is an attack or insult on people in protected (and unprotected) classes and when people show blatant disrespect for animals (and I see this all of the time!). Yes, I do ask myself "Why are you connected with these people at all, Debbie?" Good question. Sadly, some of them are family! I've actually disconnected from several family members as a result of Facebook drama. It's sad.
- someone is (seemingly) constantly complaining and posting negative status updates about how "horrible" their life is. Sometimes I can just roll my eyes and move on from these posts, other times, I find myself getting angry -- especially if the person is living what I consider to be a fortunate or privileged life. I get judgmental.
- seeing someone from the past engaging in happy conversations with others when that person really doesn't want anything to do with me any more (example: ex-friend, ex-lover, family member.) This can really hurt -- and it's one of those situations that I no longer allow myself to be exposed to. No more exes, of any sort, on Facebook for me.
Can you relate to any of these situations initiating an emotional reaction while you've been on Facebook? Perhaps you have some triggers of your own.
In Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), there is a practice of peeling off the layers of our reaction so that we can identify just the facts of the situation. For example, if we consider it carefully, Facebook is neither a "good" or "bad" place. It's a place where people and companies from all of the world can connect through words, photos, videos, sharing link, and, as time goes on, more.
It's up to each individual person to make a choice each time he or she posts. Most people see their Facebook wall as a personal space to post whatever they'd like, but I challenge that. Do we not have a responsibility to consider our connections when posting? We don't always know the intention behind a person's choice to post something - especially something controversial - but in taking care of our own mental health, it is our responses that we need to pay attention to.
The bottom line is, we only have control over what we share, and we have limited control over what we are exposed to if we choose to view our personal feed. I have begun to shift to only logging in to participate in viewing and sharing on my Healing From BPD Facebook page and have mostly avoided my personal stream. This seems to help a lot.
I also try to watch my reactions and put some space between them and my actions. I'm not always successful. Facebook can be a nightmare environment for those who have impulse control issues combined with emotion dysregulation. It's just too easy to start typing away and posting something we'll later regret.
Avoiding the wall when I am feeling particularly sensitive has been the most helpful to me. If I am feeling strong enough to roll my eyes at things that may upset me while enjoying other posts, I'll visit that section.
It's all about making sure that we feel safe, and we are responsible for the decisions around creating that safety, including with the information we expose ourselves to and who we allow into our space -- even in internet connections.
As always, your comments are welcome and encouraged.
Thanks for reading.