On Mental Health

The Internet And Social Anxieties

The wonderful thing about the popularity of digital communications is that it allows those of us with social anxieties to contemplate our responses and our words deliberately to avoid the nasty word-vomit that tends to erupt from us when we’re feeling on the spot or anxious. I’ve had various people in my life email me nice questions about my lack of religion or my politics and I can spend time really thinking about the answers so that when they get my response it’s well thought out and researched.

But if someone asks me point-blank face to face about my Pro-Choice stance or my lack of a belief in a biblical higher power? I’m blubbering and unable to form a complete sentence and then sometimes I say stuff completely incorrect because it just comes flowing out of my mouth before I have time to think about it.

This “response time” effect also aids in social invitations. If someone invites me to something in person I get all flustered, especially if I’m pretty sure I can’t go. I don’t like saying I can’t go unless I have a concrete reason, but a lot of times there aren’t concrete reasons and so I get flustered and I sound like I am making shit up. And then I have time to panic about things like double-booking and I can think about responses and email or comment accordingly.

I was stressing this morning about a weird situation of two events happening at almost the same time at ALMOST THE SAME PLACE. I was like, “I AM GOING TO DIE FROM THE ANXIETY THIS IS CREATING.”

But then I thought about it. Trying to do both would be weird because one of them required you bring food so I’d need to explain to both invites (thankfully done on Facebook) that I had two groups to meet there that night. But how to do that and now sound like some sort of diva? “OH! Look! My social calendar is soooo jam-packed! I have two events at the same place at the same night!”

When truthfully I just choose to hang out with beer drinkers and this is a centrally-located beer place really perfect for casual social gatherings. I actually had two events there in one night several months ago. Not a social diva as much as this place is just IDEA for these type of gatherings.

I was trying to type up various responses this morning, I kept deleting and trying again, completely over analyzing my words but HAVING THE FREEDOM TO DO THAT because…DIGITAL! Not face-to-face!

But then I took another look at the times and one actually starts significantly earlier than the other. Enough that I can’t really do both, and the early one is TOO early, Donnie won’t be home in time. So! Crisis averted. I still referenced the dual events so that running into stragglers from the first group won’t make it seem like I’m dissing them, but I did it! I formulated responses (allowing for a chance I can’t go anywhere as our week’s are like that some times) I checked for spelling errors, I ran it through my social anxiety filter and I THINK I DID IT! I responded politely and effectively and didn’t hide from the chance of visiting with friends!

But god forbid I had been invited to one or both IN PERSON when I would have had to give a response face to face then I would have panicked at the double-booking and would have surely mentioned boob sweat (my Go To “joke” when I’m nervous) and possibly TRIED to joke about having two social events in one night but then would have surely sounded like I was definitely a Diva b/c I do not self-deprecate well on the spot, it always sounds the opposite of what I mean for it. I would have been fidgety and I would have cursed a lot because I also have this weird automatic response when I’m anxious, I normally don’t curse to badly but when I’m nervous the f-bombs come out like some sort of social anxiety induced Tourret’s.

But I responded after WAAAAY too long editing myself and I feel good about it and don’t think I ruined my chances to be included in future social groups.


3 thoughts on “The Internet And Social Anxieties”

  1. Work towards the point when you say. I am sorry, I would love to come to that, too. But I have already accepted another invitation and I always go with what I accepted first. Unless the second is a mandatory meeting

  2. In person invitations: “That sounds nice! Let me check my calendar and get back to you in a bit.” (Unless you already know you can’t, then, just same as Beth notes.)

  3. It never fails that I frequently have two events on one night and not have anything else for days. I struggle over which to go to, who asked first, who will be there, how long has it been since I’ve seen these people, where will it be, how long will it last, etc, etc. And I always have to defer immediate responses to in-person invitations so I can check my calendar.

    Oh, and next time I see you in person I’m going to invite you to an imaginary event just you watch you drop f-bombs and talk about boob sweat.

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