“It’s Complicated”-My Relationship with Social Media

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.

17468693762_8b792bb277_b

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.

200px-botc3b3n_me_gusta-svg

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.

5 comments

  1. Nice post. There was actually a Chrome plugin a few years back that would intentionally strip all of the quantifiable data (i.e. number of likes, comments, etc), which was reported to lead to less anxiety on behalf of SM users for the very reasons you identify above.

  2. Well said. I have progressed along a similar path with facebook. I even admit that in the past I have deleted posts that did not get a certain amount of likes.

  3. I just clicked on your link and read through the Bloomberg article, on which I had my first encounter with the notion of context collapse. I think we’ve all been (either subconsciously or knowingly) aware that posting personal contents on Facebook now comes with some kind of judgment on character or an unintentional distribution to those we might not even remember being “friends” with. Now that we have the means of (somewhat) specifying our audience and filtering our sources, I’m wondering how the social media landscape is going to evolve from here.

  4. Your post really resonated with me as I too find myself sometimes distracted by the number of likes my posts or pictures receive on social media. And I myself am actually guilty of having deleted posts in my past that didn’t receive enough likes compared to others…I know it’s crazy but it’s almost like an addiction to some extent watching “likes” come in. Now I find myself wasting less time and feeling much more content if I post something and then put my phone away until later. What you said about not being considered as active on social media is spot on! My friends from home also told me how I’m not as active on Facebook and Twitter as I used to be in high school, but I definitely use it just as much. I agree that now with the election more people, including myself, are liking more posts and becoming more “active.”

  5. Great post! You really explained what a lot of people feel, but would never say out loud (about feeling inadequate because of likes and whatnot). Also, I really resonated with your thoughts on not posting many statuses or comments. This past election season was one where social media was involved way too much for my liking. I do believe that there is a time and place for political discussions, but I’m not interesting in sharing my thoughts on Facebook for someone I knew in High School to criticize. Thanks for the insight!

%d bloggers like this: