Dear Rhonda,

I have a crush on my social media followers. I ¬†interact with them a lot, I get worried when they don’t reply and I get devastated when one of them unfollows me. My life revolves around twitter, I seek attention there all the time. Reason why I got on twitter in the first place was to seek friends and I am still seeking good friends, but relationship on twitter are temporary. One of them unfollows, the relationship ends :(. But I am stuck in this bubble, all my relationships are platonic, I am scared of any other form of relationship. All I need is someone to pay attention to me and someone who can talk to me, what do you think is wrong with me? Do I need help ūüôĀ

–Baphomet

Dear Baphomet,

The internet can give a certain feeling of connectedness and community, an illusion of intimacy, but by its very nature, it is shallow. Some social media relationships can lead to more, but this generally happens once users extend their interactions beyond 140 characters.

You have identified a need for attention, a desire for good friends and for a relationship that is more than platonic. You have also identified that this frightens you and that you feel hurt when people unfollow your account.

Can you take each of these items and examine them separately? Where does your need for attention come from? Is trying to source it from a medium like twitter giving you the wrong kind of attention, and therefore simply making you crave more?

To form solid friendships, you may need to look beyond twitter, or take the twitter¬†acquaintances you have made offline. Attend meetups or suggest catching up for coffee with people you’d like to know better, and see what eventuates.

Many people meet¬†partners via twitter, including me, so it is possible for relationships to bloom, but you first need to overcome your fear. Unpack what frightens you with someone you trust or with a qualified therapist. Some people also find self-help books useful, particularly if they don’t feel comfortable talking to someone about their fears.

When someone unfollows your account, try to put it into perspective. On twitter, people come and people go for all sorts of reasons. Something piques their interest so they follow; something bores or annoys them, or they want to cut down on the number of people they follow who use emojis, so they unfollow.¬†More often than not, it isn’t personal; it’s simply the pressing of a button. Many twitter accounts aren’t even real: bots, paid fake accounts, and people trying to promote something.

If you feel you spend too much time on twitter and it’s having a negative impact on your life, try taking an extended break. Suspend your account,¬†remove it from your phone and stop accessing it from your computer. See how your life feels without it, how much extra time you have to form meaningful real-world relationships and if you stop craving the buzz of a retweet or an @ reply.

Best of luck,

–RP

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