There’s a lot of buzz about community in the online world, but what about when you’re not part of the set? Whether we admit it or not, virtual groups aren’t that different from those we find in real-life society – the hierarchies and interactions are very similar which undoubtedly means that some users will feel left out.
I’m very lucky to be part of several supportive networks, but there have been times in the past when I’ve felt the sting of rejection – whether that be through having an unanswered comment, or through not being followed back.
So how do you cope with not being accepted into an online circle?
First and foremost, remember that these people don’t really know you. They don’t know that you typed that lengthy comment just after you’d had a rubbish day at work/school. They don’t know that you put your elderly neighbour’s bins out every week or that you have a difficult family life. They only see one side of you and in many cases, just your curated digital persona – not the living, warm, complicated human. When I feel overlooked, I always take a moment to step back and appreciate my real-world self with all its intricacies. I consider the physical connections in my life – family, friends, pets, colleagues. The online sphere has value , but it’s not everything.
Understand that it’s not personal. The people who haven’t responded to you might have restrictions on their time, which means they can only connect with a certain number of people. As an account holder, I’d love to be able to include everyone, but I already struggle at keeping up with posts of the people I follow. Social media is just one facet of my life so I have to manage it carefully otherwise it could easily encroach into family and work time.
Appreciate the online friends you do have. Nurture them, do something fun together – maybe set up a hashtag challenge or arrange a buddy read. Stop chasing what could be and be thankful for what already exists.
Take a moment to reflect on your own communities – could you be more welcoming to new members? Have you taken the time out to help others or build new connections? Whether we realise it or not, we’re all tribal to a certain extent – it’s up to us whether we break our own algorithms.
And if all the above still doesn’t work then seriously consider taking a break from social media for a few weeks. Indulge your interests, reward yourself in other ways – maybe organise a trip away or take a course. Make time to develop yourself and if you decide to return, you’ll have a new perspective on everything. As with any situation, if being in a certain place isn’t making you happy then you can leave, and with social media it’s even easier. All you need to do is switch off your phone and walk away.