Facebook and the Ego Massage [or, lessons from a social media break]

Earlier this month, Erica and I decided to take a week off of social media. I ended up getting on mid-week because of an event I’d coordinated on Facebook and needed to communicate through Facebook as well. Otherwise, I didn’t post a picture on instagram, send a sports-or-anything-else related tweet, or update my status once.

It was a good week.

It’s funny how when you take a break from something, you approach it differently when you return. It’s like when you go on vacation and come back (hopefully) more cheerful to your job – more willing to deal with people, the stresses of the job, etc (side note: all of this is maximized if you take a “vacation buffer day” – that is, take a day off from your vacation. Leave a day to be at home between when you come back and go back to work. That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.)

Taking a week off from social media has helped me see some of my motives and tendencies in my approach to social media.

I realized, first and foremost, that not every thought has to be posted. Sure, this sounds simple, but how often do I want to post things that nobody cares about? Things like what happened to my soccer club. Things like what I think about the weather. Things like the day off I have planned, etc. Sure, some people may care about them. But the problem with that, for me, is that I’ll often post those kinds of things for some sort of affirmation or to have someone take my side.

For example, let’s say I post about how badly I hate this cold weather. What am I trying to prove? Maybe I’ll have someone agree with me. I know I have one friend who will definitely disagree with me. Am I trying to say I have the superior perspective toward cold weather? It’s something I say out of negativity toward bad weather, and it’s not something that makes me a superior person.

The thing is, Facebook is one of the ways in which you choose to present yourself. It’s as though you have a billboard to display your life on, and you have a choice how you’re going to do that. Is my hatred of cold weather how I want to be known?

Here’s another problem – a lot of times, I post things that I know will be “likeable” so that people will like it and massage my ego. Isn’t that hilarious? How we’ve gotten to a point (or maybe it’s just me, but I don’t believe it’s just me) that a “like” is a sign of affirmation? I first started seeing this when Erica and I decided to go public with our dating on Facebook. We chewed on the idea for a little while, and the one question I wrestled with the most was this: “how often will I check and see if people have liked it?” I’ve come up with a new rule now: when I post something that I think may be a big deal, I don’t check facebook for a while, because I know that it’s addicting to get a “like.”

So I find myself asking now, every time I want to make a post:

-If this doesn’t get any likes, would I still leave it up?

-Am I posting this because it’s really on my mind, or just because it’s marketable?

-Am I going to keep checking back to ensure it’s being seen?

 

Facebook is for communing, not ego massaging. I learned last year that I missed a lot of other peoples’ big moments because I was caught up in my own opinions, minute details, etc that I was busy looking after on Facebook. I’m aiming for quality now, not quantity.

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