Accepting my actual relationship with social media

One of the few posts I’ve written so far was talking about how I hoped to have a kind of balanced social media participation – which for me also includes online forums, or at least the one that I bother to go back to periodically. Somewhat like this blog at the moment, so I’m just writing stuff and hoping it’s interesting…

I had hoped that finding autistic groups would make it easier to stay engaged and interested in interactions in general, just because I would be interacting with people with similar traits to myself. What I have learned is that my essential capacity for interactions is the important factor. This is something that hasn’t changed even if the way I use social media has.

Since I have had regular access to the internet, there was one forum that I kept going back to, and it has been the only forum I have sustained any presence on where I’m actually recognised as part of the community. On the other hand, I have always forgotten to check it for long periods, return for a bit and then leave it again.

The same thing happens with Facebook. I can log in, have a pleasant time making a few posts or reading what is in a few groups, remember that it does make a difference to check in with some similar people, and wonder why I keep forgetting to visit again. Yet the truth remains that I do stop looking at it for various reasons.

Firstly there is a problem with the site layout being somewhat wearing to focus on key content, and not ads, unhelpful friend recommendations which are likely to be people you don’t know keep turning up. There are browser plugins to help here but only so much. I’m also a little nervous about Facebook as a company holding huge amounts of my data.

There is also always overload. There is too much going on and I can’t process it all, and I get weary after half an hour. What I feel is being drawn into an manipulated by a thing that’s trying to suck in my attention.

Facebook has come off my phone because it becomes a distraction. I’ll be checking it too often and finding I’ve accidentally spent 20 minutes looking at posts or spending way to long replying to something. Then I remember what the site does – it uses people’s drive to find connection to push advertising.

I find myself wishing for another platform with no crap and focused on connection primarily, as opposed to promotion of business or music acts or something else.

The overwhelm builds up and then I put it out of my mind. I also find it hard to get much from reacting to memes and posts with a lot of “OMG me too!!!” responses. I’m not knocking the value others might get from this, but for me it ends up being empty. It could be because I’m a bit of a grumpy cynic a lot of the time, or I’m actually not hugely social.

That is a fairly obvious conclusion – I get some occasional positive benefit from social media as I do in real life with the time I spend with family or close friends. Fundamentally I’m not particularly sociable or particularly interested in sharing everything straight away.

This is perfectly fine. I’ve learned that within the group of autistic people there are many levels of sociability. Some of us have a special interest in people and sharing many details of our experience. There are also many of us somewhat on the edges of social media with a bit of an awkward relationship with it, or we don’t need it so much and the sheer volume of data causes us to bounce off it.

I think it’s enough to know it’s there and I can find people who are pleased to hear something from me or see me pop in. It’s how I get the most from it, without it becoming a burden to try and keep up with everything.

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