I’ll admit it, I’m that guy who wakes up in the morning and the first thing he does after hitting the snooze button five times is check Facebook and Instagram (I’m still getting the hang of Twitter…sorry!). It’s always the same old news generally: my high school friends post about work, a few of my friends show videos of them lifting an absurd amount of weights in the gym, and someone invariably shares a wee bit too much. After about 10 minutes of feeding the addiction, I get out of bed to start my day.
It’s always the same old cycle and I don’t know how to break it. When I run into old friends in the real world, especially those who are active on Insta/Facebook, I have to feign not knowing what they’re up to or who they’re dating. I have a feeling my 25 year high school reunion won’t be nearly as shocking/surprising as they always appear on TV; everyone will already know who got married, who got divorced, and who has 3 kids & a mortgage….except of course for the Luddites who are off all social media.
The complicated part of my relationship with social media lies with my relatively newfound reluctance to post on social media. In high school, I remember regularly posting heavy topics such as how awful Chemistry homework was last night or how CRAZY Wednesday night’s “Lost” episode was. Seriously, I’m pretty sure I had like 3-4 posts dedicated to the first half hour of an episode. I absolutely NEEDED to share what my theories were on the smoke monster and the Dharma Initiative. This was, of course, back when Facebook statuses were structured in the “[First Name] is…” format.
When I went to college, things picked up on social media. Every day I’d be tagged in posts, pictures, statuses, etc. from the absurd to the serious. My friends would change my Facebook status to something extremely inappropriate as a joke when I would forget to log out of my FB account, to my everlasting shame.
However, one thing that started to change was MY eagerness to share. While visiting home for the holidays senior year, my friend and I were talking about FB and he offhandedly mentioned that I wasn’t active on Facebook. I was confused…I was on Facebook all the time! How could I not be active if I’m ALWAYS on Facebook? What I didn’t realize was that I had essentially stopped posting on other people’s FB walls (or rather, timelines, excuse me!), posting pictures, or changing my FB profile picture. In fact, I hadn’t changed my “Profile Pic” in well over a year, and didn’t think there was any need to change it, despite the social rules of the time dictating otherwise.
While I think there are many valid reasons why I stopped regularly posting on Facebook: using more discretion when sharing personal stories and growth of other forms of social media, I believe one of the main causes of my reluctance to regularly post now is due to the “Like” button.
As embarrassed as I am to admit it, I must acknowledge the fact that if my posts do not generate the numbers of “Likes”or comments as my other friends, I subconsciously feel “inadequate”. If my random super funny post doesn’t generate enough of the “thumbs up” icons, I am sometimes tempted to remove the post rather than face the ultimate shame of recognizing this “rejection” by my peers. All this means is that I’d rather not post on social media unless it’s for something that I feel is truly “worthwhile”.
I don’t think I’m alone in this. I remember seeing articles (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-04-07/facebook-said-to-face-decline-in-people-posting-personal-content) on this topic over the past few years, especially given the rise in Snapchat and Instagram. I constantly get prompts on my newsfeed from Facebook telling me “The Lakers are playing, post about it!” or “You’ve been friends with this person for 7 years, share your thoughts on it!” but I don’t exactly feel enthralled to take FB up on the offer!
What has changed though is my willingness to actually “Like” things and comment on other people’s posts. I don’t feel comfortable sharing my thoughts to every one of my Facebook friends publicly, but I don’t hesitate to “Like” or comment on posts that I support or disagree with, especially political ones. I think it has to do in part with the most recent election, as I have strong views on certain issues that have been brought to the forefront during a particularly turbulent Presidential campaign. I have seen divisive posts by friends and family members that I simply cannot ignore. In the past I would simply ignore it, but I feel more compelled now to engage and share my thoughts on other peoples’ posts. I still don’t exactly feel comfortable posting my own thoughts publicly to my social media groups, as I feel like “shouting my views” to everyone makes me a bit too vulnerable.