As Social Of Media As You Want It To Be
September 23, 2014 § 2 Comments
Social media feels like a social experiment to me sometimes. I’m just waiting for Mark Zuckerberg to pop out at any moment and say “Gotcha!” and then present us with a bunch of revealing information and statistics about our behavior over social media for the last ten years. Sneaky bastard.
I always wonder if social media has changed the way we behave or just exposed what was there all along. Probably both. Nature and nurture.
Many things can be said about social media and the way we can create a world that is not real. We can create a profile that doesn’t actually reflect us but what we want others to think of us.
And yet, I usually hear this spoken of in a negative, judgmental sense. If we recognize that a person’s profile is not an actual reflection of how they are feeling or who they are, should it not draw us to compassion? Why is our natural reaction to shame people? Especially those with low self-esteem issues. Our response to low self esteem tends to be pointing it out, exposing it, ironically to make ourselves feel better.
Oh, she just posts those pictures to get likes.
He feels the need to brag about it because he needs the confidence boost.
She wears a lot of makeup because she’s obviously not confident in her own skin.
He posts those kind of status updates because there’s this deep seeded need to be liked.
And I’m so above all this. This is what is assumed right? But here’s a reality check. Everyone has self-esteem issues.
Everyone has a deep rooted need to be loved, affirmed, validated, treated with respect. Every. Single. Person. The way this manifests may be different and to varying degrees depending on the person. But we can all empathize. Or we should all empathize.
How do you think shaming helps any of this, heals any of this? I’m going to take a wild guess here, just throwing it out there, that maybe, just maybe, shaming does more harm than it does good. Instead of calling people out on their low self esteem, we could empower and encourage those around us who are discouraged, hurting, depressed, feeling unloved and unwanted.
Maybe the girl who just posts pictures to get likes is the same girl who every day struggles to survive the abuse and neglect she endures at home. She needs an escape from feeling unwanted, undesired, unworthy all the time.
Maybe the guy who talks about his gym workouts too much may be the same guy who used to struggle with an eating disorder and working out is the healthiest he has ever felt. He gets excited about it because he finally feels like he’s in control.
Maybe your friends who are strategic about what they post and who sees it because they want to present a certain image are living in fear. Scared of judgment, scared of vulnerability, scared to truly be themselves because the rejection is too painful to bear.
Or maybe, they are posting certain pictures, wearing certain clothes, acting a certain way because they love the attention.
And maybe, you’ve done the same things.
I’m going to go all Black Eyed Peas on us and ask where is the love? Shame is one of the worst motivators and manipulators in the world. And the more we can eliminate it, rid it from our lives and stop imposing it on others, the more free we will become.
So he’s posting selfies because he’s depressed. Send him a note of encouragement. Reach out, share love. Social media gives us this rare peek into people’s lives that we normally would not get. There are people I’m not close to anymore that struggle with really difficult issues that I would have never known about outside of social media. There are opportunities every day for me to encourage someone I haven’t spoken to in a while because they’re just an instant message away. And there are opportunities for me to be encouraged as well, through being open and vulnerable in every area of my life. And, the reality is that for many, this now includes social media.
It is easy to get annoyed with those who post sad statuses or status updates all the time. I am guilty of judging these people and saying that they need to talk about those things with people close to them and not spread it all over social media. But what if they don’t have anyone? What if posting it is a cry for help? Their way of reaching out? What if Facebook is the only community they have right now? At least they have an outlet right?
If I were upset and opened up to someone about it in person and they expressed sympathy, no one would think that was weird. No one would judge me for seeking out affirmation from someone in a moment of sadness. But when this is displayed on social media, for some reason we jump to conclusions and judgments quicker.
Back to the original question of nature vs. nurture, I would venture to say that social media more exposes human behavior than it shapes it. Humans are humans and have always been so. It’s just more on display now. And we shouldn’t be shocked at the amount of pain and dysfunction we see. We shouldn’t be ashamed to allow ourselves to feel the same way. Humans tend to bond more through shared suffering, knowing we’re not alone in our pain. And social media offers us an opportunity to encourage each other through it.
The internet isn’t going away you guys and the power to connect or disconnect with each other in whatever way, whether in person or on the internet, is still in our hands.