I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.
Are my Facebook memories doing me more harm than they are good?
I honestly think yes.
And this might just be a “Jacki Brain” thing, but it might also be something other neurodivergent brained folks like me haven’t considered for themselves, so I wanted to start typing about it and see what happened.
So, let’s find out, okay?
First off, let’s get the obvious out of the way- yeah, it’s fun to see all the happy memories and all the jokes you’ve made all the years and how much the physical appearances of both you and your friends have changed.
That’s fabulous and fun, but you know what’s not? Remembering the bad things in the same rotation every year.
Now, if you are like me, you don’t post about the bad things or times a lot on the Internet because, well, you were raised in a generation where it was not okay for female-presenting folks to have negative emotions. That is so deeply ingrained in my being that I am barely okay with showing negative emotions in the privacy of my own home, much less the public-facing Internet.
Well, “public” -the ones who made it onto my friends list (so prestige, much important).
What I’m getting at is that I don’t post a lot of negative stuff on my Facebook page, so I don’t have a lot of negative memories on my Facebook page.
So, why skip all the good memories to avoid the occasional bad ones?
Welp, it’s because the bad ones slap me in the face with the same emotion I was feeling the first time I experienced the bad thing. Like, my brain puts me right back there, like it is happening all over again.
And that, welp, that can be extremely overwhelming.
Plus, what if I’m reading my memories around someone else, because “they’re mostly good!”…
Picture it, I’m hanging out with Mickey, we’re having a wonderful, fantastic day, he pops out for a moment or two, so I open up my phone and look at my harmless Facebook memories and am surprised with a bad one. While he’s away for no more than 5 minutes, my brain has put me through the ringer: First memory of the bad feeling, then the reliving of the experience that led to the bad memory and then re-feeling all the bad feelings I had afterwards.
Yes, it all happens that quickly. No, I am not exaggerating.
Like I’ve been telling y’all, my brain is a big ol’ bitch. But we don’t always have to listen to her, do we?
But, I’ve not been able to stop this certain Facebook memory phenomenon from happening. I wish it were as easy as telling it to stop, but it is not.
It’s not only the bad memories that get me.
It’s the happy ones that involve friends that I no longer talk to. These open up my brain to massive silos of rumination that are so detrimental to my mental health. They force me to reflect on what a different (and sometimes awful) person I was during those times and, instead, of being happy and ‘congratulating’ myself on all of the growth I’ve made, my brain shoves all the progress deep down and instead beats me up over and over again for being the person I was then.
That can get exhausting.
And pretty terrible for my self esteem.
Sometimes - I’m embarrassed to admit this - those loops can put a damper on my mood for days. This wasn’t something I’d been able to science down until recently. Once I had an inkling that this might be a pattern, I started paying attention to it and, boom, it tracks.
Then I started thinking about the memories as a whole and how they effect my mood and daily life.
I remember over the years, thinking in passing while looking at my memories, “Oh, this time of year is always really hard for us.” or “This seems like it’s always a stressful time of our year.”
It’s never the happy memories, is it?
But then, I noticed - if I started paying attention to the pattern, it kind of became a self-fulfilling prophecy in a sense. Like, I expected things to be bad, so when they were, just a little bit, I would lean into it.
Then, I started thinking deeper - is it even healthy to have to relive so many things year after year after year?
I mean, yeah, noting a sad anniversary on a calendar to remember your dead parent is one thing.
But reliving the moment you shared that you lost that parent with your friends year after year? Or for the long drawn out deaths, or job losses, or friendship endings, reliving the slow burnout of the embers of something you once loved over and over again every year.
So, yeah, the reliving the happy times are good, but I don’t think it outweighs the benefits of the bad times.
Then there’s this (I have obviously given this topic a lot of thought lately):
Reliving the good memories could possibly be harmful for my mental health as well and let me tell you why I think that is:
It makes me feel like I am in competition with myself. Like, if say 4 years ago was the triumph of my career and the day I’m looking at that memory, I got some negative feedback on a post I pitched to a client.
Am I gonna see the success that having a client and not a boss is? No, my brain is not, it’s gonna see the massive failure of getting a tiny bit of negative feedback.
I gotta retrain the bitch (my brain), truly.
Also truly, I don’t think we were meant to relive our past lives in tiny bits every single day via the vault of our digital memories. How the fuck are we gonna live in the present and look towards the future if we’re doing that?
If you have made it this far, here is a gold star for you.
This was a slog to read and I appreciate your time, because I know it is valuable. I am genuinely interested in your thoughts on how the daily memories affect your life, if at all.
Like I said, this might just be a Jacki Brain thing - all the rest of y’all might just read a memory and be like “ok fine” and move on. I dunno! You tell me!