Question–how many of you actually notice if I, Britany Ederveen, “like” something your social media pages?
No one. That’s because we don’t care WHO is actually interacting with our content, but just that PEOPLE are. I don’t think I’d ever go to a social gathering and say to someone, “Hey, how come you didn’t like the picture of my burnt spaghetti I posted three weeks ago?”
(By the way, this post is a little hypocritical of me to even be posting about social media, because if you’ve been around me recently, you will know that I’ve really be ragging on social media influencers and how all do we is talk about how social media is ruining our society yet no one is doing anything to resolve the issues and the fact that I’m posting this ON my own social media is also a little counter to my philosophical claims but I really feel convicted to share these words).
They say we live in the most anxious generation that’s ever walked the planet.
When I think about times in which I am most anxious, it is because I don’t feel in control, and I don’t feel in control because I don’t have any boundaries. Graduating from college is really anxiety-inducing because now you have the rest of your life to look forward to–there are no more four year segments for you to contain your life goals and plans, but rather, the possibilities are limitless. Being single and dating is really anxiety-inducing because I don’t know when I will meet my Prince Charming, and the amount of guys I could potentially fall in love with seem to be never ending and overwhelming. Buying a house is really anxiety-inducing because timelines are up in the air, features are subjective, options and interest rates and preferences change everyday; there is no official “end deadline”, or set boundary (unless, of course, you make one yourself).
So, perhaps the reason we are all so anxious is because social media, also, has no boundaries; the amount of people we can connect with, the quantity of pictures we can scroll through for ‘fashion advice’, the length of time we spend, the number of accounts and Apps and different platforms to manage are never-ending, all consuming, indeterminable. Like looking at post-college life, searching for Prince Charming, or buying a house, the web of connections, things to click on, people to keep up with have no boundaries–and, as we discussed previously, no boundaries equal anxiety.
The world of social media is overwhelming. I start by clicking on one person’s picture, which leads me to stalking my ex-boyfriend from 7th grade, then I see a picture of a dog, and I suddenly realize I know nothing about Alaskan Dwarf Hounds, and I might want one someday, so I should research that.
….how does this information serve me in any way?
It doesn’t. How many people make their New Years’ Resolutions to say, “My goal is to stalk at least 15 people per day on social media”. No one–because we all recognize that social media makes us no smarter, gains us no more I.Q. points, makes us feel no more warm and fuzzy inside; it’s a waste of time, detrimental to our egos, and clearly, a large contributor to our anxious generation.
When I diagnose what exactly I’m doing on social media, my participation is not really because I, myself, care to have my existence validated by a bunch of likes (I surpassed “the need for social validation” after high school), or because I’m searching for affirmation that I am a good person (because, clearly, so many puppies like me and I also feed the homeless on my free time), or even that I want to compare myself to others (you know, so I can tell myself that my life is definitely way less of a train wreck than theirs). My participation is not even because I have FOMO that everyone else is traveling to Southeast Asia, or that everyone is drinking PSL’s or that everyone is going to see “A Star is Born” ,and if I don’t also go, I’ll miss out on important social contexts (right, because what other people post should motivate my own behaviors?…).
I’ll admit that some of my participation is motivated to share Mike with the world (because he is just so great) but, for the most part, my participation in social media is because I want to be liked. I’m a people pleaser. I don’t want someone to think I’m not happy they just got engaged, or that I’m not supportive when their grandpa passes away, or that I don’t think their trip to Mexico looked fun, or that I like their new hair color (right, because if I don’t “like” or “comment” on their post, then it must mean I’m against these things, and then that means they may not like me as much?) It makes me feel good to “double tap the heart” on InstaGram and to leave a nice comment–it’s like I’m supporting people in whatever endeavors they are undergoing, and I want them to think, “Oh, that Britany is so nice! She likes all my stuff on Facebook!”
But, if we go back to that original question I posed–do you REALLY think I’m a nice person because I’m “supporting you” and “sending hearts” and “liking” your stuff on social media? No, because when you get a notification, it’s all bundled up into one statement: “3 new people commented on your picture”, and because your life is already so inundated with data (and obviously anxiety from lack of boundaries), you don’t even notice me, and my participation on social media does not credit (or discredit, to that matter) your feelings towards me.
I’ve definitely noticed an increase in my own anxiety since I’ve let the social media channels flood open, so here is what I’m doing for myself: I’m creating boundaries. I’m limiting myself to 10 minutes of scrolling in the morning, and 10 minutes of scrolling in the evening, and if I see the same post come up again, I’m stopping (right, because we live in a world in which NO participation in social media is also kind of difficult). I’m hiding people, pages, companies from my news stories that I don’t really have any interest in (I’ve limited it to family, people that are important to me, people who post about their cute dogs and kids, yoga posts, and cool travel pictures). And, I’m unfollowing celebrities (especially those who are crappy writers. Except for Ellen. #EllenforPresident). I’m limiting my participation and creating my own boundaries.
Does this mean that I will be “commenting” less? Yes. Does this mean that I will be “liking” less posts? Yes. But, does it really matter? No.
You can’t be mad at me because I warned you in advance. This is not about you, this is about me.
(Photo Credit: Facebook)