Hypervigilance and Social Media

Some of you may know I embarked on a social media fast a few months ago. A big part of my recovery has been writing by hand. I am gradually transcribing those pearls of wisdom gleaned from my notebooks, but it’s taking a while. Jumping ahead of my backlog, here is today’s entry, hopefully to be collected with the rest into a treatise tentatively titled Death on Mount Ladyfeels: Reflections of an Internet Scapegoat.

April 22

I doubled my daily social media allowance to 30 minutes, in order to promote the May 8 Seder-Masochism screening at the Virginia, and already my addiction is more active. I made an event page on fecebook with fliers and links to the GoFundMe. I posted these on my timeline as well. Of course there are comments and “reactions.” Of course I’m vigilant for counter-reactions: denunciations, protest organizing. Those will take a few days, although I already screen-capped my first denunciation on Twitter, calling out the Virginia for promoting a right-wing white supremacist (that’s what they think I am now).

My impulse is to check the internet to find out “what’s happening” — who is reacting to me, to my event, to my film; what are they saying, thinking, doing. They say abuse survivors are “hypervigilant”; it’s a symptom of PTSD. Certainly those being actively abused are. Social media supplies abuse and enables hypervigilance, everything a victim needs to trauma bond with technology. It’s perfect for compulsively monitoring your abusers. Every social subtlety is significant, a cue and a clue to your safety, who will come to your aid and who will betray or condemn you, as Robin Dunbar elaborated in Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language. We constantly need to know where we rank in the hierarchy, who our allies and enemies are, and how those alliances shift. We need not only keep track of our friends and enemies, but our friends’ friends and enemies, and our enemies’ enemies and friends. For this, the human brain was designed; language evolved merely to keep better track of ever-shifting ranks, alliances, and enmities, according to Dunbar. No wonder fecebook is so addictive.


Author: Nina Paley

Animator. Director. Artist. Scapegoat.

8 thoughts on “Hypervigilance and Social Media”

  1. I did “share” your FB posting for the event on my FB page, so hopefully more people will be aware of it (in a positive way). DANG — “Friend of Jordan Peterson” — so the bullies will first label someone (Peterson) as “EVIL”, and then if you converse with this person (or even check out what the person actually says, and not what the New Tyrants say they are saying), then you are evil by association! These people cannot defend their ideas, so they have to stop others from expressing theirs. Ignorance is their power.

  2. i also have a hypervigilence issue

    i find that if you take little snips of social media and read them out of context you can use social media as a kind of vaccine just like it was a live virus vaccination

  3. “Break the Binary”?? Yet these people are guilty of the most egregious false binary thinking. They’re so preoccupied with crying into their diapers that they can’t pull their heads out long enough to even bother to understand the difference in arguments.

    According to them, feminists who disagree that “men can be women” are “aligning themselves with the Christian right”. But I’d say that not wanting male-bodied people in the locker room isn’t quite the same thing as declaring that something goes against “God’s plan”.

    “Jordan Peterson ally??” ugh, even right-wingers are promoting this BS. Given the fact that people are now down to making Pavlovian snap-judgments based on a mere word or name, there needs to be a dismissive meme for making these kinds of kneejerk ADD assumptions.

  4. Transactivists that truly feel they’re born in the wrong body are one thing, but this threatening breed of trans chauvinists that specifically & aggressively target women (but not, interestingly, men) who simply recognize women are not born with penises are disgusting bullies. Women have a right not to have their private spaces invaded by trans chauvinists who are too chicken to go through the entire transition. If they want access to our bathrooms then they better chop ’em off.

  5. We shared the go Fund me on our page and donated! Hope it helps bring more support to you!

  6. The amount of venom and vitriol directed towards you astounds me. People I assumed were kind and intelligent and rational are putting the most heinous words in your mouth without stopping to see what you are actually saying (beyond the penis song, of course, which seems to be their rallying cry and the only piece of “evidence” they have). It’s like they have all gone rabid. The far Left is becoming more and more like the far Right, in their inability to listen, to process information, and to think beyond headlines and buzzwords. I’m ashamed of them, really and truly ashamed. You deserve better, we all deserve better.

  7. Hi Nina! Are you aware that there’s actually a study showing that social media platforms generally bad? With Twitter, Facebook showing a net negative to overall welbeing (with instagram being the worst) and only youtube seems to have a net positive (Here’s the article: https://www.psychalive.org/worst-mental-health-instagram-facebook-youtube/ )

    I was wondering if there might be an exception for say public figures and artists like you who wish to publicise their work. But knowing that blogs like zen habits and cal newport still have massive followings with no social media usage, and that the goals of an artist in the long term is not necessarily a larger mass audience but a broader niche audience. The impression that I get is the pros outweigh the cons.

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