First and foremost, I’m a mom to a beautiful, active 7-year old. I’m also over 40, I work full time outside the home, am a part-time university student, and I have a partner and a house that frequently need attention. I’m also the only child to an elderly parent. So, in short, not only am I unaware of all the different avenues of social media out there, but I also I don’t have a lot of free time to be up-to-date on all the do’s and don’ts of what I actually do know!
I admit, I’ve been on Facebook for a few years, but mainly because it’s been such an efficient way to stay in touch with friends and family. With one quick post, they all know I’m still alive and well, and I can get back to the pressing duties at hand of making supper, wiping a runny nose or doing laundry.
Lately, I had been thinking it was high time to attempt an exploration of our expansive world of social medial and thought I’d start off with the basics. So, I created an account on one of the more popular sites: Twitter. And as confusion set in early, between hashtags, cryptic posts and how to get more ‘followers’, I attempted to read a few articles on social media: the etiquette of, what you should and should not post, as well as how to make your posts more interesting. All too quickly, I found out that posting is an art… and apparently a lot of work. How did I not know all this before!? Apparently, I was supposed to have been entertaining, exciting and “read-worthy”!?! Damn.
Ugh. Let’s face it. Social media is kind of like word of mouth on steroids. It can either make or break you (or your business). For some, like me, it had been a fun, efficient way to stay in touch with people. But for others, it can act as something of a virtual canvas – where they can paint themselves into who they see themselves as, who they have always wanted to be, or how they want to be seen by others. Talk about PRESSURE… with the expectation to either appear to have a fabulous life or to have one that is at least entertaining enough to make others want to read more!?!
So, with that kind of pressure, it looks to me that a lot of people out there may feel that they have to try and fit themselves into an image of what our present society sees as, (at this moment) being either ‘cool’, ‘in’ or ‘now”. There will always be some new bandwagon to jump on (ie. environmentalism, new charities, going all-organic, saving whales or seals, etc…) and by hitching your wagon to the right ‘star’, it can be a way of feeling some sort of personal validity and letting others know: I am liked. I am popular. I ‘belong’.
But, if that’s so, and I should be thinking through that lens whenever I post anything, am I really being authentic or am I putting unnecessary pressure on myself just for the sake of my ‘audience’ or obtaining more followers? Now, my head hurts.
Let me be perfectly clear: I’m certainly not saying that all ‘bandwagons’, (and by that I mean ‘movements’), are bad. A great many of them are absolutely wonderful and help our world tremendously. It’s just that not everyone who considers themselves part of these movements does so because they truly believe in them or live the lifestyle. They see them as things that all the ‘cool’ people are part of and talking about, and they want to be seen in that way also. So, they may post or re-tweet about all those things, but as for being part of their nitty-gritty movements…well, lets’ just say that I know some of them…and while they may ‘talk the talk’, they don’t necessarily ‘walk the walk’…in my mind, kind of like a person who talks a lot about being a vegetarian yet still wears leather!
And while I like to be entertained (who doesn’t?!), I’m also a huge fan of authenticity. I have great admiration for those who do talk the talk and walk the walk. And I would rather know that a friend is posting honestly about their day and not treating me like an audience by feeding me a candy-coated version of it, just because they think it will make it more ‘readable’. I want to be a friend, not an audience. But I guess that’s where people differ: Some want connections and some want an audience. But between Facebook and Twitter, that line can sometimes become a bit blurry and I guess we all have our motives for posting whatever we post.
During my time on Facebook, I’ve often heard friends ridicule or complain about other friends or acquaintances’ posts, saying, “Really? Why would I care that Ms. Rigby’s cat just puked or that she had mac & cheese for supper?”
Hmm. Well, maybe you don’t care that Ms. Rigby’s cat just puked or about what she ate for supper. But truth be told, it happened. It was real. So, you’ve got to give Ms. Rigby some credit. And maybe just because you don’t care…perhaps somebody else does.
Likely, dear Ms. Rigby wasn’t trying to impress anyone or spin her life into some glamorized tale just to entertain others or make anyone think she is special. She was probably just trying to ‘connect’ and share her life, perhaps hoping that someone…anyone may have cared. And apparently, she hasn’t read any of the “How To” Literature on posting and social media! But in spite of all that, I have to have a certain amount of respect for her posts; because consciously or not, she put herself out there. And social media isn’t for the faint of heart.
Whenever you post, there’s always a little piece of yourself that you are opening up to the entire world for them to either like, dislike or ridicule…. You open yourself up to friends, family, acquaintances, co-workers, strangers, and anyone who has ever loved or hated you – either openly or from afar. And a post like that is saying, “I am real. This is my life. It may not be glamorous, but it’s who I am.”
The fictional Ms. Rigby was not trying to paint herself as super-exciting, and her posts may likely be written without any thought that it could be annoying to anyone else. So, in my heart of hearts, to make the time to ridicule someone for their authenticity in posting is actually pretty mean. If you are that bored by someone or don’t like something they have said, you have some options. You can either de-friend them or change your settings so you don’t see them or their posts anymore.
In short…maybe many of us, myself included, are simply over-thinking this whole thing. Whatever, whenever and however you decide to post, and your motives for doing so – be them self-serving, authentic or even without thought… I guess, if you’re going to be brave enough to let the world in… you have to be tough enough to take whatever comes from it.