Social media began as social networking; a tool that gifted us with the ability to connect with people from all over the world no matter the distance or cultural differences. Whilst these functionalities still exist, its success has largely been fueled off our basic human desire for a sense of love and belonging and need for understanding and acceptance.
The more likes the better, right? Wrong.
Here are a few things to keep in mind the next time you’re skipping work whilst sitting on the toilet scrolling through your Facebook or Instagram feeds.
1 – A ‘like’ isn’t the means to validate your self-worth
When someone likes my photo or post admittedly I get that little rush of self-validation. They liked my post; they liked what I had to say; they must like me, right? Let’s stop for a second and take a cheeky dose of reality. When I scroll through Instagram, I spend a MAXIMUM of five seconds on any one photo. You might think I stopped and really looked at all the details and debated the philosophical insight that your caption posed. But no, first impressions are everything on social media. I double tapped that sucker and moved on [and liked another 72 within the next minute].
2 – Don’t believe everything you see
Yesterday I wrote about some comparisons between the captions and the reality behind some Instagram photos I posted a few years ago. Social media and indeed the internet have created the perfect platform for any of us to portray our lives in whatever way we want. We think of virtual reality as this fantasy gaming world that we see on TV shows discussing the future of electronics. We think only those who can get tricked into believing what is told to them on the internet are naïve tweens. Nope. We too are living in a virtual reality. Fun fact: Did you know the cats used in cat memes are actually real cats with real feelings? Incredible!
3 – Your ‘likers’ are probably not thinking about you right now
Let’s take a trip down the Tinder trail for a second. You’re swiping through, some right, some left, you get a few matches and then disaster strikes. You accidentally swipe left on your PERFECT match! You pause for five seconds to shed a tear or two. But within five minutes you’ve found another ‘perfect’ match and you cannot even remember the one from five minutes earlier. Yep, users of social media are like gold fish. Remember this (if you can).
4 – Share for the message not for the likes
For many of us, social media has grown to become a tremendous tool for self-promotion. There are teenagers out there with a smart phone and a YouTube account making more money each year than my parents have in their whole lives! I get that they’re running businesses and just as with any business there is a certain brand standard to uphold to generate business/followers. But what I don’t get are those who post the same ‘mirror selfies’ each day just with a different inspirational quote that they stole from Pinterest. Please, if the message is that important to you, would it not be better to post the original [and beautifully designed] Pinterest image and credit them in the caption? (This may necessitate a revisit of point number 1).
And last but not least… [drum roll]
5 – They’re just pixels
At the end of the day, all those comparisons you made to validate your own sense of self-worth, sense of accomplishment or your place in life, originated in the nerdy confines of a Harvard dorm room and bland office somewhere in the heart of Silicon Valley. Think about that for a second. All of those days you spent feeling down because you can never live up to what ‘society’ seemingly expects from you began as a simple concept birthed in the minds of a certain Mr Zuckerberg and Mr Jobs. Oh the irony. All that social media tells us is ‘not cool’, yet look at where it all began.
So what can we learn from all of this?
As many of my loyal readers will know, suicide is a topic close to my heart. Amidst the chaos the world is facing right now and tragedy in France, 2,200 people will kill themselves today and thirty times that number will make an attempt on their own life. I’m pretty sure that instead of just hitting the like button [or perhaps wishing there was a dislike button], we should actually reach out and connect with people – ask them how they are. Perhaps with the question, ‘Are you okay?’
While the whole world seems so focused on the hateful actions of the few, the decision to love is one that we as the masses can make right now. And that can start as soon as you finish reading this and go back onto Facebook [because I know you will].
That’s how social media should be used.
Greatness Via Passion.
Has social media detrimentally affected your mental health or self-esteem? Leave your thoughts in the comments box below 🙂
I’m 22 years old, live in the land down-under and am a writer, sometimes speaker and beyondblue Ambassador. Fun fact: I’ve only missed one Summer, northern and southern hemispheres, in the last four years! You can say G’day on Twitter or Instagram or read more about my story here 😀