Social media. One of the major milestones of our modern society, and also one of the major root causes of much of our suffering. I don’t know about you, but I can’t even count the number of times in the past that I’ve posted something online, just to sit there and repeatedly hit the refresh button hoping someone, ANYONE, would like it or respond with a positive comment. And I mean for HOURS ON END. Does this sound familiar to you?
Look, here’s the cold, hard truth, and you’re not going to like it but, most people on social media don’t really care about the things we post. Not they way we would like them to, anyway. Most people are too caught up in their own lives, with their own problems and their own pursuits. In fact, most people are sitting in front of their phones right now, waiting for someone like you to like what they’re posting! But at the end of the day, social media has very few positive real world benefits to our lives (unless you are promoting your business or brand). It might make you angry to read this, but I urge you to take a second to reflect on what I just said.
I’ll say it again; Most people on social media don’t really care about your life or any of the things you post, just like *you* don’t really care about a post from someone that you barely know.
The fact is, our posts are just a tiny part of a person’s newsfeed. They’re just blips. Moments in time that comes and go like shooting stars, like the thousands of other things they’ll skim over that day. And even though our experiences might mean something to us, the nature of social media platforms themselves create an emotional barrier between human beings. Because most of the time, the people who are reading our posts aren’t actually there in real life to experience them *with* us. Simply put, social media is addictive, mindless entertainment which only serves to pass the time for most of us.
Most of our social media following doesn’t know us. I mean REALLY know us. And they can’t really know us, because the majority of the things we post online are a facade of ourselves; the positive aspects of our daily lives that we meticulously curate in order to portray a better us. The filtered or doctored pictures, the happy moments, the new cars and luxurious vacations.
Not the rejection we felt when we got stood up on a date. Not that new zit we found on our ass. Not how we painted the toilet bowl when we got food poisoning. No, we’d never post that kind of stuff online because we’re afraid to show our real selves for fear of humility and rejection. Instead, we’re perpetually tripping over ourselves in order to portray our lives as some grand fairy tale; a fantasy that we want people to *think* we’re living… and I’m sorry to say it, but real life isn’t a rosy newsfeed filled with happiness and unicorn farts, contrary to popular belief.
Now, you might be thinking, “There are lots of people who really care about me on social media,” and that might very well be true. But I’m not talking about your real friends, family or colleagues. Those *are* the people who actually matter (well, maybe not always), but they don’t count in this instance. I’m talking about the countless others whom we pander to, who don’t give a fat rats ass about WHO WE REALLY ARE. Your “friendship” with them is just a way to get their numbers up. They’re never going to call to see how you’re doing. They’re not going to bring you soup if you’re sick. They would never come to your rescue if you needed it. They are not your friends. They are distant acquaintances, and sometimes not even that, and you are a number in their vast collection of “followers” that they can brag about.
So why do you care about what random strangers think of that picture you just posted of your lunch? And why are you posting a picture of your lunch, anyway? Stop it! 🙂
It’s always been so strange to me that we place our lives on social media for the world to see, and furthermore, set our social media following on such a high pedestal. I mean, sure, I get it. It feels good when people “like” what we do, but most of those people are not emotionally invested in us, and therefore, their opinions shouldn’t matter at all. They’re essentially strangers, and frankly, they don’t really want to hear your sad stories anyway. Would you hang out with total strangers in real life hoping that they liked the things you were doing? Probably not. In fact, you’d probably be creeped out if random people came up to you and complimented you on your lunch.
So let’s break this down, and figure out why social media carries so much weight with most of us. Personally, I believe there are a few compelling reasons.
First, the world can be a very lonely place, and most of us feel voiceless and invisible. The majority of us are looking for intimate connections with other human beings that we are not experiencing in the real world. But looking for intimate connections on social media is like going to a heroin dealer for pain relief medication. Sure, he might have something to make you feel better *right now*, but it’s probably not what you really need, and probably only going to do you more harm in the long run.
Secondly, all of our “friends” on social media seem to be living perfect lives, and we don’t want any of them to think that we’re not.
“OMG, Katie just posted a picture of their new 4 million dollar beach hour in Hawaii! Josh just posted a picture of his brand new BMW! Erin & Ben just posted pictures of their honeymoon on the moon!”
It. Never. Fucking. Ends.
Add to that, that the media forces the notion of inadequacy down our throats on a daily basis, and as a result, we’re driving ourselves crazy trying to live up to the impossible standards they set. Is your body beach ready? Try this diet pill! Sick of looking at that old wrinkled face in the mirror? Buy this skin tightening cream! Tired of being ignored by men? Get breast implants! Ready to start living the good life? Buy this expensive car!
We are constantly bombarded by ad after ad that we are not living lives we should be. And after a lifetime of seeing & hearing it over and over, they have successfully convinced us that it’s true. Add to this, that the only people who seem to matter to anyone in the public sphere are the rich, the famous and the beautiful, and there you have it. The perfect storm which dictates almost every choice we make. We are constantly clawing our way towards an unattainable standard of living, which causes us to become more and more depressed when we never actually arrive there.
I’m going to ask you a question now, and please, be honest with yourself, if only for a moment…
If you died in a car crash tomorrow, how many of your “friends,” fans or followers do you think would care? And what I mean by “caring” is, how many of them would legitimately miss your presence on this earth? How many of them, do you think, would show up to your funeral? How many of them would shed a single tear? If you’re being completely honest with yourself, and I hope that you are, you’d probably agree that the best you could hope for from the majority of your online community would be a sad face emoji and a flippant “thoughts and prayers to the family” comment on your wall. And that’d be it. Your entire life would be reduced to a few half-hearted sentiments ,and then any thought of you would then immediately be superseded by a video of some idiot eating a Tide Pod. It’s a noisy world. People are easily distracted.
I recently made a lot of changes to the way I use social media. Firstly, I deleted all but 6 friends on my personal Facebook page, and that’s including my wife, business parters and a couple of lifelong friends. In fact, the only reason I kept a personal Facebook page at all was so that I could administer my music and business pages. If it hadn’t been for those, I would have deleted Facebook forever and just stuck to texts and Skype. But instead, I whittled my friends list down to 6 and never added another single person again. I denied every friend request I got after that, even from people that I knew well. I simply told them that I was setting social media boundaries, and left it at that. That was 3 years ago, and I’ve never been happier. Not only have I reclaimed HOURS of my day, but I don’t have to read anyone’s bullshit drama anymore. It’s awesome.
The point is… social media isn’t helping us. In fact, it’s only making us more depressed. So why not set some boundaries, and set yourself free?