I’ve always found it incredibly interesting to find out why people share, like, and post the things they do. Plenty of experiments have been done to show that people need to fulfill their narcissistic tendencies. Others enjoy sharing (sometimes oversharing) their lives because they don’t feel they get enough opportunity to do that outside of social media. Some use it to provide gratification on whatever it is they’re thinking or sharing. Whatever they case there is plenty of data out there on this.
Donna Fretias, author of the book, The Happiness Effect, details how people feel pressured to give off a, sometimes unrealistic, sense of happiness. Now, what is so wrong with that, you might think. Fretias’ experiment including young adults (college students) showed that they often feel the need to “Put on a Happy Face”. This notion goes back long before social media but she thinks perhaps it means keeping your online profiles optimistic to ensure potential employers to see, what you’d like them to think, is the best version of you.
I’m not sure I totally agree. Half the things I view on social media aren’t very optimistic. It’s a tough time politically, driving disagreement creating tension between others. People say they don’t watch the news because it’s never “Good News”. Well social media is becoming very similar but MUCH more personal.
I personally try to portray a positive lifestyle that doesn’t negatively impact as many people as possible. So much that I’ve started my own website www.jaredcwood.com (Shameless Plug). I think your personal brand is important. I wanted to take the extra step of posting my creative content instead of it forcefully showing up on other’s news feeds. I don’t just try to radiate positivity in order to impress potential future employers. In fact my use of profanity would in fact negate that. I think it’s important that in a time of such negativity there is so much good out there and we’ve all go the opportunity to embrace it. Ok back to Fretia…
She talks more about the high stakes and the pressures of young adults posting on social media. They’re constantly looking for online approval. I’m victim to this too. I check my stats dozens of times throughout the day because I want to see if what I’m posting adds value to those who follow me. However, I do not let what I perceive to be negative statistics effect me emotionally.
Fretias also talk about religion and it’s place on social media. This to me is very interesting as she believes that regardless of ones religion most people shy away from talking about it much on social media. While I 75% agree with this, I find it interesting that she neglects to mention the people who selfishly promote their religion and look down on others who don’t agree. I have unfollowed dozes of people for a number of reasons but forcing religion upon is my largest reason.
Social media is your soapbox. Say what you’d like but there’s a fine line when you negatively call out a large group of people based on what they do or do not believe. Some are now making this similar rationalization with political views.
We’ve even expanded the dictionary to include terms like “Click Bait” and “Internet Trolls”. These are ways that we strive so hard to get others to engage in our content. But if we look at our parents who are slowly making their way into social media if they haven’t already and we can see they don’t have the same tendencies as the younger generation.
They grew up in a generation of speaking their thoughts and feelings out loud, not hiding behind a keyboard. But that’s why the younger generation is so criticizing of older generations behavior on social media. The fact that my father is less passive aggressive in his posts is just how he was raised. If he had a problem with someone or something it was fought out on the schoolyard each day and they moved on.
But today it seems there is a generation of those who portray a false sense of happiness in their digital world. And honestly I don’t have a huge problem with that. In fact I hope that 100% of the people radiating happiness through their social media truly feel that way. For those who don’t, I would just say this, “Strive to live the life you portray on social media”