A Google search for embarrassment turns up immediate results. Advice for Enneagram type 4s, who apparently are hyper-susceptible to feeling shame when posting. Dozens of responses detail how uncomfortable they feel sharing their life, products, or work. They don’t want others in their business, they fear being made fun of, they feel they’re doing something wrong. Regardless, frequent shame isn’t only the territory of type 4s. Being embarrassed to post is common amongst all enneagram types and zodiac signs.
Down the Google pipeline is FOP – Fear Of Posting. It’s an anxiety some get posting online. A growing stress that others are looming over one’s content collectively pointing and laughing. FOP sufferers fear their viewers are looking down on them and are embarrassing themselves in some way.
Embarrassment about The Present Tense
In moments of anxiety, we reanalyze every thing we’ve done or said since 2008. Our brain keeps us up at night, nudging us into remembering our lames moments. Surely, others remember That Cringe Thing I Did in 6th Grade or The Corny Thing I Said Last Summer. They must! The body physically recoils when an old embarrassing memory. In public, others ask what was thought of to instigate this reaction. You respond, “Nothing!” desperately not wanting to share the shame of old mistakes. In reality, it would probably not be embarrassing to share it and the listener would at worst chuckle.
Fear of Posting doesn’t focus on embarrassment of the past, but shame in the present. It creates an anxiety that we’re doing something wrong, being bothersome, being socially incorrect. People who have products they wish to boost on social media feel uncomfortable putting themselves out there for promotion. They don’t want to be made fun of or spoken about behind their back.
The reality is the majority that see posts they don’t like don’t usually put thought much into it. Nobody cares. After scrolling away, everyone forgets what they saw and didn’t like. A creator’s job is to keep eyes looking for at least a significant enough time that their point gets across. The imprint that is left on the viewer is whats important. More commonly than not, the viewer will have a neutral or positive reaction and then they’ll scroll away. The embarrassment one feels is manufactured more than it is rational.
When Negativity Does Come
We have all seen on our various feeds posts that we don’t like. We’ve seen things we think are less than good quality, or make us feel pity or anger at the poster. We might even feel embarrassment on their behalf. There has been videos or images that left a negative imprint on our mind at one point or another. More often than not, when we are in the viewer position rather than the creator position, the negative images don’t weigh heavily on our day. We hardly think about things we don’t like online. Even when we do, we rarely hold it against the creator.
It’s not unreasonable to think that some (rationally, not the majority) who view certain content will have a negative reaction. Ultimately, the number of negative reactions to a post is mostly under the control of the creator. Is the post offensive, mean-spirited, negative or dishonest in some way? Avoiding these faux-pas, the negative reactions someone will get on a post will likely be the result of something within the viewer. The poster has little to no control over what someone made jealous or angry of.
Posting examples of one’s music might rub a few people the wrong way if they’re not a fan of that genre. Viewers might feel inadequate that they’re not making music. They might want to creating something themselves. The negative reaction in these cases is not related to the creator or the product they’ve made. There’s nothing done to cause embarrassment because the negative reaction is more emotional then it seems. These negative emotions the poster cannot feel themselves, the emotions within their own head are. They cannot feel envy, they can only feel hurt from the envy vocalized. Positive emotions within the creator’s head are their primary concern because they are controlled by the poster.
Creating Internal Comfort
Imagine you’re in a room with people you trust who will like you no matter what you do. Or, imagine you’re in a room full of those who you do not care about. You don’t put much thought into your behavior and words into what you say and act like around your friends. There’s trust and comfortability that they’ll like you, regardless. Save being offensive, you have faith that minor mishaps aren’t indicative of your personality. You know that your friends will like the products you make and don’t feel uncomfortable showing them. You have confidence in a room full of people who like your presence.
An environment of partial apathy towards viewers and comfort with yourself can create distance from negativity. You are in control of your own mental environment and you can remove yourself from present-shame. With control over your thoughts you can determine what negativity comes in and how to distance yourself from what others say. While being completely apathetic can be dangerous – everyone wants to interact and communicate with others on some level on social media – having the same apathy you would have towards misspeaking before friends towards followers can be helpful.
Content for a specific audience who will appreciate what you have to post will encourage comfort. There’s no reason to be anxious around a niche you recognize and understand. A demographic unfamiliar can expose anxieties and feelings of unease, but branching into new territory can expose a brand further. Determine what the target audience likes about your posts, which do the most numbers, and reapply that to new territory once comfortable in the old. Your followers feeling like a friend group will help you feel more comfortable. Understanding your friends helps you feel more at ease when you talk to them. Once you’re comfortable in your niche, branching out will not cause so much fear.
Don’t Create Your Own Shame
The viewer’s voice, positive or negative, does not exist within your head. Nobody falls asleep with other’s thoughts inside their brain! Replaying negative comments, imagined or real will just further the idea within you that you shouldn’t step outside your comfort zone. You cannot hear the thoughts of other people, you can only hear your own. If a viewer were to think or say positive thoughts, it wouldn’t bring anxiety. It wouldn’t be replayed or imagined. Positive reinforcement never takes on an entire world the way negativity can sprout in the mind. Embarrassment doesn’t grow from negative thoughts. Picture a world where people say positive things rather than negative. This world can make you feel more comfortable with yourself and your online presence.
Stress, embarrassment and anxiety in social settings, especially in comparison to public speaking, is normal and manageable. In a tech-focused world, posting online is similar to performing a speech or presenting in front of a class. Obviously this could bring out feelings insecurity and stress. Similar to classes and training in public speaking, this anxiety and stress is something that goes away in time. Once comfort and confidence in the medium is made, content will flourish and your fear will dissipate.