Humans have a biological need to connect with others. In fact, it’s a large part of our survival. Social media feeds this basic need to connect with others. And it let’s us do it with ease and immediacy. We can find someone to chat with in an instant. We can see what’s going on with our friends in seconds. When we get good news or bad news, someone is always there to share it with. In fact, there are great things about social media.
So, what’s the problem?
Our drive to connect with others drives our use. And when we reach out and don’t get a connection, it can leave our mind to jump to conclusions and cause painful feelings.
For instance, how about when we send something that goes ‘unread’ or ‘read’ but with no response. Oh, the pain and anguish over this! We’ve all been there. We send a text or a snap and there’s no response on the other end. It can leave us wondering. Are you going to connect with me or not? Why did you read my note and then not respond? Is it something I said? Are you mad at me? Am I not important to you? Is our friendship/relationship in trouble? What should I do?
You may think this is an overreaction for just being unread or not responded to, but this happens. Teens (and really, anyone!) can get into these head spaces. It’s a minefield of anxiety and pain for some. We tend to read into the meaning behind someone not paying attention to us. We reach out and they aren’t there. What does that mean about me and our relationship? It can be like quicksand… a sinking feeling. And one that can last for a while if they don’t respond. WHY AM I BEING REJECTED?
Then we are left with: should I or shouldn’t I take another stab at reaching out again? Would that be a good thing or will I seem too needy? Will they be annoyed with me? How long should I wait to try again? How long before I know I’ve been ghosted? So many questions are left swirling around in our heads.
What seemed like a simple outreach to another for connection, just got stressful. And life is already stressful! This can just add another layer on top sending us to a dark place. It leaves us feeling unsure about ourselves. It leaves us feeling anxiety and sadness about the possibilities of our friendships being in jeopardy.
I know it’s hard to avoid the ‘question game’ with yourself. BUT the questioning only elevates your anxious feelings. Think about how much weight you are giving a text or Snapchat response. Ask yourself: Am I really just afraid that my friendship is in jeopardy? Is my worry warranted? Is my relationship really in danger of ending just because they haven’t responded yet?