I have 1402 "friends". That's just on Facebook.
I also have a ton more through dance, theater, and writing. It seems like as the number goes up, my happiness level is diminished.
Would I have been diagnosed as Bipolar 2 at age 41 if I hadn't been on social media for the past ten years? I'm actually not sure.
I've been thinking for the last three months about the fact that I seem to have become more and more uncomfortable with my life in a way I do not recognize. I used to love my life and now I am constantly on a search for something else.
To be fair I don't think I can blame it all on social media or modern times. It runs in my family. If you read my dads journals before he died you would see the trend. Perhaps at age 40 or so this was inevitable for me. However, the trend is not just in me. Many of my friends and family complain of this even if they don't admit or realize it.
I know it's a simple concept but could the decline in my happiness be directly related to my brain being on overload from an overabundance of social relationships most of which are shallow or competitive?
I've learned recently about Dunbar's number.
Without going into too much detail Robin Dunbar was a British anthropologist who proposes that the cognitive limit in which a person can relate to another person is about 150.
Now that's some fancy talk but it really means we ain't supposed to have more than 150 relationships.
Although he researched brain size, primates and the volume of neocortex in hunter gatherer societies, Dunbar explained it informally as "the number of people you would not feel embarrassed about joining uninvited for a drink if you happened to bump into them in a bar."
150 people. This makes total sense to me. Does it to you?
To go further than that, within that 150 people each person basically has the ability to be "the best" at something. If not the best then maybe the top 5%. Within our village of 150 someone gets to be the best cook, the best tennis player, the funniest guy, the sluttiest girl. You get the idea.
But in a world of 1402 friends you basically just feel shitty. All I can see is all the other people who are better writers than me. Better comedians. Better opportunities.
Although I can safely say my relationship with my husband and my kids is one to strive for, most of my time is worrying about all the people with nicer cars, cooler vacations, and weirdly white kitchen counter tops. Weird I know.
But I'm just admitting it. You may be more interested in granite. I get it.
This makes no LOGICAL sense because I know that I have a f*ckin kick ass life and a ton to be proud of. I mean I don't know it. I KNOW IT. I don't need more.
I'm feeling this way and I know so are a ton of other people.
My brain is being tricked into a feeling of inadequacy on a subconscious AND conscious level. Worse than that it flairs up every ten or so minutes when I check my phone like a mouse in a trap.
Not one to sit around and let things happen to me I'm forcing myself into a change. I don't want to spend the rest of my days like this. I have so many projects inside my head. I want to have time to work on them and fulfill the destiny I believe I am made for.
I want to set a better example for my children. I don't know how to combat the stress that they will inevitably feel when they start comparing themselves to others on social media. I can only lead by example and right now I'm not a good example.
I was about age 30 when this all started. Now it's been ten years and I'm worse for it. What happens if it starts at age 13? Or age 11 considering my son has an Instagram account?
It seems so simple at it's core. But as suicides among teens rise, depression and anxiety intensifies, it becomes painfully obvious doesn't it? Too obvious not to do anything about it.
Sorta like gun control huh?
I shed my closet down to 33 pieces (okay actually about 50-still working on it) and I feel better.
I've limited my day to just 5 or so sets of goals for the day. Parenting, walking, writing, cleaning, reading, exercise. I feel better.
I basically eat 5 different types of meals in order to stay healthy. I feel better.
I look at my phone, maybe 50, 75, 125 times a day? I feel shitty.
I use excuses by saying I need it for business or to stay relevant. But the writings on the wall. It's a drug just like everything else. I can feel it.
I panic at the thought of writing here that I'm going to have my friend make a password for my social media accounts and not give it to me for 30 days. I'm an all or nothing type of gal. If I'm on this grand experiment to take my mental disorder, health, and happiness into my hands then I need to really dive in.
My blog posts, dance classes and important dates will be added by someone else. And I'm not going to write on FB "If you need me I'll be over here". That annoys me. If someone really needs to get a hold of me they'll find a way.
I'll see you on the other side. Let the withdrawal and the shakes begin.