a personal style blog by Lauren Pfieffer

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Am I Too Sensitive For the Internet?

I remember back in the peak of blogging public enemy #1 for me was GOMI, or get off my internets. If you have no idea what the fuck I'm talking about, it's probably for the best, but I'll explain what it was.

GOMI was kind of like the Diet Prada of the 2010s to roast tone-deaf bloggers and the wild shit they would do. The actual blog was pretty good, and I found myself checking it weekly and reading the gossip about so-and-so. A quick google search and it seems like the site is still up and running, doing the Lord's work.  Where the fun ended for me were the forums which were like a reddit where you could start threads about different bloggers. I thought it was the worst thing in the world to have people saying shitty things about me, but if I read back on them 12 years later as an adult I'd probably agree with most of the sentiment about teenage me lol. I was a little self-righteous ass-hole.

I'd prefer this kind of behind-your-back shit talking to what it is now where people just write what they don't like about you directly to you. At least I could choose whether I wanted to read it instead of having it forced in from of me unwillingly via a comment or a DM.

I've always been sensitive. Too sensitive. I might even classify myself as a HSP (highly sensitive person). I cry when I'm angry, sad, hurt, scared; you name it. I feel a lot of things and at certain points in my life it feels like a positive: but, recently it feels like a weakness.

I get that I'm not for everyone. I even irritate myself sometimes. But in the last 3-4 months or so, I've noticed this increase of people having a negative thing to say about the topics I talk about or the way I choose to live my life. 

The social media manager in me tries to take myself out of the picture and look at what's happening from a macro POV. Accountability for Internet personalities has risen the last few years and continues to. As it should, to a reasonable extent. We demand more from the people we follow & give our social currency  (which translates to $$$$) to and sure, we'll forgive a mis-step here or there...but one too many and it's a full-blown cancel. 

Platforms like TikTok thrive on authenticity (the opposite of Instagram's aesthetics-based machine), and it's allowing more people to open up about personal topics. Which should be a positive! Mental health, self-esteem/appearance, relationships...I know for even myself personally when I come across a video on my FYP that has the person speaking to me in a realistic, friend-like way, I'm more drawn to them. We form a parasocial relationship, or a "one-sided relationship that a media user engages with a media user engages with in a media persona." Sometimes because we see someone and think we 'know' them because we know their internet persona, we believe we can say anything we want. You can, but it doesn't mean you should.

I think this post from Nedra Glover Tawwab sums it up for me.

Whether I deserve individuals critiquing and correcting me about or if it's just a part of this weird shift in social media usage, both of them result in the same distressing emotions for me.

It's hurtful to look at my phone and the first thing I see when I wake up is a preview of a message saying something negative. 

I think about it all day, obsess over it, feeling sick to my stomach. Are they right? Do other people believe that about me? I wonder who else thought that and didn't say it? Could I have provided more context? Should I go back and change my caption? Delete my post? Do I not talk about this topic any more? Am I being dismissive about their experience if I feel like what they said about me isn't true? Am I problematic? Am I annoying? Do people hate me?

I'll spiral all day and usually it ends in a bunch of frustrated tears because I hate disappointing people. When they're unhappy, I feel like it was my fault and I want to make it better, and that has been a habit I've carried with me in my romantic relationships, friendships and even work until there was nothing left of me at. I was just a patchwork quilt making up everyone else's thoughts but my own.

I've thought about this a lot and discussed it in therapy quite a bit, trying to process and objectively look at all the angles until they make sense to me. Where do I go from here?

The internet has always been my place where I come to express my feelings and maybe it can't serve that purpose for me anymore. I'm 28 now, not 16. I have so much admiration for those on the internet that continue to showcase their true selves and open up about the really hard parts of life. It makes me feel seen to witness others going through the same things I am. I always want to do that for others, too. But I can't continue to at the expense of my own mental health and well-being.

At the same time, part of me knows that whether I choose to put myself fully out there or hide parts away, there will always be negative opinions. Is it worth pulling back if it's inevitable?

Maybe it's more about balance. I'm always seeing things as black or white. All in, or nothing at all. Perhaps getting to a place of sharing less, but still sharing the important things that I'm not willing to compromise on is a better median. I think in the meantime, I need to continue to work through not taking everything people say about me so personally. It's just the internet. We all need to relax.

With much love,


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