Less than a month. Once again I decided to play with the idea of launching a small Mastodon instance as a home base of sorts for people I know from various stages of my adult life who might be looking at drawing down from Twitter. it took less than a month to collapse under the cognitive weight of what even non-algorithmic social media does to me.
The next time I have this bright idea, I need to remember: the anxiety, the fear of missing out, and the imposter syndrome aren’t entirely due to an algorithm juiced for engagement metrics. It really is the social feed itself that does this to me. The tipping point of realization this time was when it became clear to me that the mere awareness of the presence of a social media feed waiting in the browser nearby was causing problems for my ability to pay attention to other things.
Mornings had returned to the chest-squeezing flail of having to scroll back to where I had left off the previous night, in order to make sure I hadn’t missed anything interesting. One new self-discovery: I don’t know how not to take it personally if someone who follows me reposts an interesting thing shared by someone else, rather than reposting when I had shared the same thing. It makes me feel uninteresting, or not really bringing anything worthy to the mix. It’s nonsense, and I guess even if it weren’t it should not grate, but it does.
What makes it all that much worse is that I already had a recent sense of failing and failure that I chalked up to my autistic brain, and here we go again. I hate it. I hate that basically the only way to keep up with what all the people you know are up to or thinking about is social media, and I’m just simply cognitively incapable of using it, so I’m left so far out of any social loop that the loop itself can’t even be seen.
It occurs to me that something else is in play when I use social media, and it’s something I’ve thought about before: rejection sensitive dysphoria, typically considered in relation to ADHD but applicable to autism, too.
It also occurs to me that in my zeal to maybe help former online social circles escape Twitter, I’d forgotten what I’d written in the past about the difference between narrative organization and database organization, and how for me a social media feed is effectively an cognitively-unprocessable database.