Social media OCD

We can post something and have it viewed by potentially billions of people in an instant. It only makes sense that my Social Media OCD goes through the roof every time I share something.

I wanted to say something about Social Media OCD as it is definitely a thing. A very annoying, persistent problem for me.

Topics covered:

  • Constantly making sure photos haven’t uploaded on their own
  • Fearing that my intrusive thoughts might be posted as a status or comment
  • Accidentally liking or disliking something by mistake
  • Checking WhatsApp group messages for messages I didn’t mean to send
  • Worrying about not being able to check social media on a long-haul flight
  • My bed time ritual

Title post with laptop and social icons in background

I’m paranoid my phone will share a photo on it’s own

I am quite clumsy and heavy handed. When I am scrolling through the news feed my shaky, anxiety-ridden fingers tend to press things I didn’t intend to press.

So when I exit an app, let’s say Instagram, I panic thinking I might have just shared a picture from my camera roll by mistake.

Disclaimer: My photos are usually random things around London that I’ve just sent to my mum.

My last photo taken, a rainbow in an industrial estate in London

I turned notifications off as I have my phone on my desk a lot at work. Plus social media just brings me down lately, I am trying to detox a little.

But when I am not on my phone I worry that I have shared something by mistake. Not knowing what I shared brings on the panic. Was it something private? Will it put my security at risk?

I better check.

The worry is enough to check my feed and story. I probably do this 30-40 times a day. Not browsing, purely checking that nothing has uploaded by mistake.

What if one of my intrusive thoughts manifests as a status?

I have lots of intrusive thoughts that come and go constantly. I have a hard time understanding that they are only in my head. My worry is they may spill into my writings or causally come out in conversation.

I worry I may subconsciously type these thoughts when writing, and that my phone will pick these up as auto-corrects.

I then worry that these may be copied and accidentally pasted into a status and shared to the world. Crazy right? But not impossible. That is where my OCD thrives.

Social media icon graffiti on a wall

As I type this I realize the chances are incredibly low. However that doesn’t stop the urge to check. The more I don’t check, the more my anxiety builds.

What if I have typed something horrible and I get banned? What if my friends and family block me for it? What if I get fired from work?

When negative thoughts are such a presence in my life, it is hard to believe that I won’t unintentionally share them with the outside world.

What if I ‘like’ something inappropriate?

As I am scrolling I worry I have ‘liked’ something I shouldn’t. I remember when Facebook brought in the new emojis as a way to ‘react’ to posts and this only made my anxiety worse.

I now purposefully scroll with my finger on the right hand side of the screen so I don’t hit those reactions. The last thing I want is to tap the laughing face when someone posts about a loved one passing.

And similar to how I described Email-OCD, sometimes I scroll back up to check I haven’t made this error. But going back and checking only increases the risk of me actually doing it.

It is a vicious cycle.

Eggs in a tray with faces all with different reactions

On TikTok, I have to scroll on the left hand side to avoid the white love heart symbol, especially with so many controversial posts popping up on that app.

I try to spend more time on the posts I enjoy, hoping to get the algorithm to favor happier posts. But it doesn’t seem to be too effective. I don’t use it often so hopefully this changes.

Whenever I see a post I don’t like I have to stare at the white heart symbol to make sure I haven’t turned it red, which would show I had ‘liked’ a post. And I mean stare at it for a good few seconds to validate the check and convince myself I am okay to keep scrolling.

The problem here is, does TikTok register the time I spend here as time I enjoyed? I do hope not. But it would certainly explain why I get certain videos on my feed!

I have a mini-ritual before bed

Although I have a bigger nighttime ritual regarding many checks, my social media checks can be done in bed. It’s the last worry I have before I can relax and sleep.

I open up Facebook and check the three things I don’t want to unintentionally update:

  1. My status (no offensive words or auto-corrects)
  2. Profile picture (no accidental uploads)
  3. My last messages (no offensive words or messages to loved ones)

I do it in this order because steps 1 and 2 can be done at the same time. Messenger is a separate app.

I then do the same on Instagram, focusing on my messages first. This is because messages are accessed through the home screen… I don’t think I can accidentally post on my home feed?

I then go to my personal feed because if there is something uploaded, it will be posted here.

I check the last photo in my feed and my story. I make sure that little blue circle with a white plus sign is present and then I can relax.

I don’t have to check other platforms so much, I guess it is because I use FB and Insta a lot more than any other.

Occasionally I will check WhatsApp status

For a long time I didn’t even notice there was an option to add a status on WhatsApp. Ignorance certainly is bliss.

But now I do, I have to check it. But only usually if I have been messaging a lot on there.

I don’t really check my WhatsApp messages before bed as it is 99% friends that I chat to. I don’t really worry about sharing personal things with them.

However I do have a group chat with my work colleagues/ managers that I check. Probably once a day, just to make sure I haven’t sent them a message that was intended for a friend.

This was much more common in my drinking days, as I could easily send them a message that was intended for a friend at 1am telling them what kebab shop to meet me in.

Now I don’t worry so much.

Social media OCD worsens when I will be away from my phone for a while

If I am waiting for a flight, I will do these checks repeatedly from the boarding gate to the moment the Captain tells us to put phones on airplane mode.

There is little that freaks me out more than being without signal for 9 hours and being unable to check my feeds.

A picture I took waiting to board a plane from London to Sydney
My 24 hour journey to Australia is a great example of this!

This is also why I check before sleep or say, on a date. If I know I am going to have to put my phone away for a while, the checks get more intense and more frequent. I cannot relax if I don’t.

I will probably have to work hard on social media OCD. As long as I have intrusive thoughts I will probably have this phobia, although I need to focus on the probability of something happening.

Even if I was to post something by mistake, social media will probably be okay with a picture of a rainbow from an industrial estate. Or a selfie from the gym.

I cannot take photos of the intrusive thoughts I have, and they cannot escape my head and enter my feed.

If that realization had a like button, I’d smash it.


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