Social anxiety and WoW

90 Blood Elf Priest
13290
Everyone has fears. Everyone has something that they’re terrified of. Spiders, tight places, heights... there’s always something. We’re all possessed by one phobia or another.

For some of us, that fear is of having to interact with other people. Conversations and public appearances are nerve-wracking, gut-wrenching experiences. I’m not referring to scenarios that typically evoke fear, such as giving a presentation or approaching a potential significant other, or even a lack of self-esteem or confidence (though those are certainly results of social anxiety). I’m talking about mundane, routine situations like buying groceries at the supermarket or scheduling a doctor’s appointment over the phone. Most people don’t even think twice about paying the cashier, but for those of us who struggle with social anxiety, it’s a terrifying, paralyzing ordeal.

And unfortunately, that apprehension of being social extends even into World of Warcraft. There are some people who play this game who are so intimidated by other players that they don’t group or queue up for dungeons or BGs. They just can’t work up the courage to whisper someone to join a raid. They’re too afraid of the negative reactions they might get to type in guild chat or trade (though you can’t really fault them for avoiding /2). Talk in Vent? May as well ask them to give a State of the Union Address.

And it’s a shame, because something that’s supposed to be fun is the exact opposite of it. They’re unable to do the things they want to do in-game because their fear is in the way.

It took me a year of playing and a great deal of prodding from my brother to even set foot in a raid. It’s taken me three to get myself to tank (not even heroics, just leveling dungeons). I’ve been guildless for most of this expansion. The thought of someone scrutinizing my application to their guild makes my stomach churn nervously. Though it’s a tendency that I’m working on breaking, there are times when I’ll pass on loot that’s an upgrade for both myself and another party member, because I don’t want them to say anything to me.

Look, I know the simple answer-- and the response that most people are going to give-- is to “man up” because it’s just a video game and “it’s not real”. And though I agree that WoW is just a bunch of pixels and code, the connections and friendships you make with other people through the game are as real as anything. And if you can help someone who has social anxiety beat their fear in Azeroth, that’s one step closer than they were before to solving their phobia in real life.

I’m just trying to raise awareness about social anxiety and online gaming. I know I might sound self-righteous or overly noble about a condition that many dismiss, but the fact of the matter is that there are people out there who start to hyperventilate when a queue pops or when someone whispers them, who drop group after a wipe not because of disgust, but because they’re terrified that it might have been their fault.

Just keep in mind that a computer screen and internet anonymity may not offer others the same amount of protection and comfort that they offer you.

So is there anyone out there (who’s brave enough to step up) who has had similar experiences as mine? Anyone to keep me from looking like a complete fool?

(Lastly, and I have to mention this in passing, because this is General Discussion, I’m looking to start a guild for people like me who have social anxiety. The recruitment thread can be found here, if you’re interested: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/4427564004#1)
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86 Dwarf Hunter
3155
Your guild chat may wind up being among the quietest in the game :)

In spite of the fact that I can participate in the forums, I'm both shy and introverted, although one may have resulted from the other.

<- note my dungeon achievements

My priest has a a few more than this guy, because she was a healer and got a more invites, but this guy is my second most accomplished toon.
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90 Worgen Warrior
7265
I'm afraid of confrontation and friendly banter as the next socially awkward worgen, but... getting past it really is about sucking it up and asking for more napkins at the counter.

Talking to strangers is supposed to be good for you. I'm a lot better than I was some years ago with this, social stuff.
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86 Dwarf Hunter
3155
04/12/2012 12:37 PMPosted by Jessebella
I'm afraid of confrontation and friendly banter as the next socially awkward worgen, but... getting past it really is about sucking it up and asking for more napkins at the counter.

I frequently have to quietly ask my wife to ask for something to be passed to me when I'm eating with my in-laws, with whom I've been associating for over 30 years. That's a hard thing to just suck up.
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90 Worgen Warrior
7265
I frequently have to quietly ask my wife to ask for something to be passed to me when I'm eating with my in-laws, with whom I've been associating for over 30 years. That's a hard thing to just suck up.


That sounds pretty severe. Have you considered medication? if that is even a thing.
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64 Goblin Shaman
5365
I have social anxiety too, but that's what I take xanax for........I used to NEVER hardly talk to anyone in this game except ppl I knew IRL. I stumbled upon a thread almost two months ago and we started a guild and now I socialize A LOT. The hardest part for me in guilds was there were already cliques....
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1 Blood Elf Warlock
0
If I were on your server, I would join your guild. I appreciate what you are doing. I have the same fears and anxiety when I play. I HAVE dropped out of dungeons thinking I'd be blamed for something, and then it takes me several months to retry. I have 5 85's - I've only played in dungeons with other people on 2 of them, the rest of my 85's I'll run the dungeons solo, and strictly for farming for my 'chanter.

Thanks for starting the discussion.
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85 Tauren Hunter
4850
I don't think I have social anxiety disorder, but I am very introverted in real life and in game. I'm in a guild, but I don't talk to anyone. I've never done a bg and I rarely queue for dungeons. I know I miss out on a lot of the game, but I get so nervous about messing up because I don't know every single detail about dungeons. And the WoW community isn't exactly known for its respectfulness and understanding, so I just stick to playing by myself. Thanks for the post OP, it's good to know there are players like me out there :)
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90 Night Elf Priest
15605
I'm shy so alot of the reactions you mentioned affect me but I'm able to awkwardly push through it thankfully. And yeah for me it's the same in RL as in the game. The game doesn't give me any virtual courage just because it's pixels. Kinda wish it did.

Good luck with the guild. Posting this thread and trying to connect with the community via creating your guild etc shows alot of bravery for a person with social anxiety.

/hugs
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86 Dwarf Hunter
3155
04/12/2012 12:45 PMPosted by Jessebella
That sounds pretty severe. Have you considered medication? if that is even a thing.

Tried it. The side effects were more inconvenient than the social anxiety itself.
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85 Orc Warlock
10390
I have Social Anxiety as well, but not to the same extreme (though my problems lie more in real life then online).

Just don't think about what other may think about you, and just concentrate on the game and having fun.

That is what I do. :)
Edited by Liará on 4/12/2012 12:52 PM PDT
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5 Human Rogue
0
This was a good read.

I don't raid/arena in WoW cause of my social anxiety. It took me until patch 4.3 to muster up the courage to queue for heroics, and I've never tanked anything besides a regular. I miss out on a lot, and I wish I had the money to server transfer so I could join your guild.
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90 Worgen Warrior
7265
04/12/2012 12:49 PMPosted by Stoutlager
That sounds pretty severe. Have you considered medication? if that is even a thing.

Tried it. The side effects were more inconvenient than the social anxiety itself.

That's a shame. You seem to have a pretty bad case, compared to other people I've met.

I'm glad you have people who are willing to work with you on it.
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90 Night Elf Druid
4775
I've definitely always had a bit of social anxiety, the only time I really see it affect me in wow is when my guildies wanna use skype or vent. I've never been diagnosed and it's not a crippling issue, although it does seem to be getting worse as the years go on.
Edited by Meshkah on 4/12/2012 1:03 PM PDT
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85 Human Warlock
9825
Social anxiety sucks. As awkward as I may be in almost every social situation I find myself in, it doesn't come close to how stressful it may be to those with genuine social anxiety.

Social anxiety shows the best results with antidepressants, and I think it's the only anxiety disorder that can be successfully dealt with through medication alone as well.
Edited by Sansbury on 4/12/2012 1:06 PM PDT
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I've never had a disorder about it, but back in high school I was incredibly shy and introverted. I forced myself to take a volunteer position that had me constantly talking to people. That really helped a lot. That shyness and slight anxiety is still there, but it's now much easier for me to push it to the back and talk to people.

I wonder how you would go about recruiting for this guild then... :P JK, but seriously, that's not a bad idea. At least you know that everyone in the guild has the same apprehensions as the next person so it might make that first step of talking in /g a little easier.
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90 Night Elf Druid
5095
I suffer from social anxiety too. I wouldn't queue for randoms unless my husband was grouped with me so I'd at least know one person, and I'd still sweat bullets when it came time to enter the instance. I'm a lot more comfortable joining queue solo now, but it took a long time for me to get to this point.

Unfortunately I have a lot of dentist appointments to go to lately, and still have to call my doctor to get in for what I suspect is lupus, and it's really rough going. I struggle through it one thing at a time, one encounter at a time. It's not easy, and I hate every minute of it. Although, I absolutely love social butterflies. For the most part they've been kind to me, and eventually I feel more comfortable talking to them. I have very few friends, but the few I do have are social butterflies :)

*Edited to add* Kudos to you for starting this thread in the first place, I wouldn't be comfortable enough to start one, so that's really awesome for being able to do so while carrying these fears!
Edited by Belaszune on 4/12/2012 1:15 PM PDT
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I was the same way & still to some extent to the big raids & heroics. I've build up the nerve to go in random regulars but too nervous of other people to join heroics so I stick tp pvp or just do my thing like work on lower levels, work on proffessions and help people I do know in real life with their questing if they need help. You know what im perfectly happy with that & the people that critisze me always wind up on ignore or if they get abusive report player button.

JUst do your thing & enjoy the game. I wouldnt let anyone tell you otherwiseas it really is none of their business unless you join a big raid then you might want to have the gear. The point is dont let random jerks intimidate you. Do they pay you're subcription? NO, until that day then its really none of their business. Enjoy the game for what it is & do what you feel is comfortable.

Thank you for bringing up the awareness as many people no doubt feel the way that you described. I myself avoid huge raids unless it's For the Alliance or For the Horde but Im glad to hear you hae the nerve (more nerve than I ) to enter raids.

FYI (To be honest) I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder with BPD in 2006 and alot of anxiety is associated with that. I'm on medications for it though so not as extreme as it was.
Edited by Finches on 4/12/2012 1:21 PM PDT
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