- Create an alter ego a la Sasha Fierce, Ziggy Stardust, Chaucer.
- Avoid setting up a social media account for as long as possible—weeks, months, years. Once you succumb to the forces of social networking (usually because of work or school), set it up with your alter ego.
- Avoid inviting people you know in real life to follow your account. But if they find you …
- Don’t close the account! Create a new account with a new, secret alter ego. Never link the new account with the old. But if you do …
- Because you’re hit with an episode of online pseudo-extroversion (also known as a crisis-of-sharing-way-too-much), log out of your accounts. Breathe. Breathe again. Trust me, you’ll survive.
- After a few days, log back in. If people you know in real life now follow your secret account because of your episode of online pseudo-extroversion, check your privacy settings, change your profile picture to a puppy or a flower, and log out of both accounts (and the world) for a few more days.
- When you return to your accounts, block your contacts and tell yourself they will not notice (they probably won’t notice). If you block someone you know in real life and they happen to ask you about it, tell them you blocked them for their own protection because you were hacked. If they ask why you had two accounts in the first place, smile and offer one of these excuses:
- Excuse #1: There was never a second account. What are they talking about? Deny, deny, deny. But if they produce screenshots …
- Excuse #2: Gasp. Tell them the second account is fake. You don’t know where it came from—and it’s not under your name. But if they keep pressing and they’re your mother or some other nosy person you really care about …
- Excuse #3: Confess (kind of). The second account is for school and/or your job. Just a boring project. Not a big deal. Let’s move on.
- If guilt-ridden over the blocking of family and/or friends, organize your contacts into lists. Unblock family and friends and share feel-good content like memes of kittens or puppies to different lists. Once in a while, post memes of unicorns for all of your contacts. Inspirational poems and quotes work well too. There, all better. Carry on.
- Check your privacy settings every week – every day, if possible. You never know when someone may slip through your stealth-mastery of disguise or, more likely, when the social media company rebrands itself and updates their privacy settings (ahem) merging all of your separate lists and exposing your content to everyone (AAH). If this occurs, don’t throw your computer against the wall. Don’t close your accounts. Don’t let the greedy bastards win. Read articles on why social media is bad (hint: look up Frances Haugen). You won’t feel alone (trust me). Adjust your privacy settings, change your profile picture, and block more people. Log out of your accounts for as long as you need to recuperate from this infringement on your sanity.
- However, if you start losing sleep over the exposure of your content and/or still feel guilty about blocking people, take these steps:
- Unblock some of the people, prioritizing those you care about in real life (i.e. Mom, Dad, maybe Grandma, etc.).
- Post an inspirational meme, poem, or quote.
- Post a profile picture of a unicorn to remind everyone you are a rarity in an online sea of extroverts and no one will ever understand your peculiar social media needs.
If you continue to lose sleep, fine, close your accounts. Go to the library and read a book. Walk in the park. Enjoy an ice cream cone. But if you can’t stop wondering about the latest viral trends and how you might #addtotheconversation, go to step one of this guide. Create a new alter ego and proceed to step two at your own pace. Remember: You are a glittery unicorn not made for this cruel, over-sharing world. It will be okay. Carry on.
Eneida is an introvert; therefore, sort of qualified to give other introverts advice. Her stories, poems, and hybrid pieces have appeared in places like Birdcoat Quarterly, Magma Poetry, and Parentheses Journal. Though she rarely posts, you may follow her on Instagram and Twitter @EneidaEscribe but not on Facebook. You may also visit her website at www.eneidaescribe.com.