The world, in its best state, is nothing more than a larger assembly of beings, combining to counterfeit happiness which they do not feel, employing every art and contrivance to embellish life, and to hide their real condition from the eyes of one another.” (Samuel Johnson, The Adventurer, №120, December 1753)
The best conversations I have with my friends are face to face, or over Skype, if they are over seas. When a friend of mine is in a bad place I always want him to be able to contact me and speak about what’s bothering him. I would love to be able to do the same. Does social media nowadays let you do that?
“ If there is a reason for someone to be your friend, they are not your friend.” — Charles Chu. (We All Wear Masks — On False Friendships and Counterfeit Relationships.)
The problem of representing a version of yourself to the world is three-fold.
- First you assume people are interested. This is a damaging assumption and ultimately leaves you empty. People are not interested. Only the closest of your friends are intricately involved in the details of your life. The plus side is that they are already in communication with you. These friends tend to change however. There are exceptions to this rule, but over time, the longer you don’t see someone, the less you find yourself interested in the person, on a larger scale.
- You spend an unhealthy amount of time time thinking about what other people are thinking about you — which is one of the major reasons for depression and insecurity. In reality they are thinking very little of you. This is not a bad thing. It is just a real thing. You are not the center of the universe. We need to start believing healthy things about ourselves.
- You spend time manufacturing/misrepresenting your life in impractical ways. You build your schedule around activities that you can share online, so that other people can be envious of you.
Try going on vacation and not sharing the pictures on Facebook. Try going to the restaurant and not posting your location. Try watching a new movie without letting the world know what it is you think about it. There is something beautiful about being in that moment without thinking about anything else.
I go to a concert and don’t think about whether or not someone is liking my pics that I posted on Facebook. I go for a run and don’t seek validation about it from my Facebook because I am completely content with the fact that no one needs to know. Why should they? I am already tackling the next big issue in front of me.
Stick to what your path is. That can be music, a social life, your family, movies, books, anything at all. Stick to that and post things about that craft that you are working on. In that way you will ultimately be an encouragement to everyone around you. I like following people specific people on social media because of the content they are giving out.
The Art of Social Media
I am not interested in what you are doing everyday if you are not being disciplined and creative in your presentation of it.
That is the art of Social Media. The importance of it is that you can change lives by sharing your perspective. Let’s not waste it on sharing how many friends you have been with, or sharing a picture by the Eiffel tower. It has been done before.
Rather, share your unique perspective on why Paris is the most romantic city you have been to. Share the alley-way that is so dirty that you find it the most pure. Share the hill that has a sun setting above it, with a caption on why God doesn’t exist. We have all seen sunsets before, we’ve all seen popular vacation destinations before. Make a point out of it. Make sure people are listening and changing because of it.
It’s all been done before.
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I will finish with a quote from Alain de Botton in his book Status Anxiety:
“The attentions of others matter to us because we are afflicted by a congenital uncertainty as to our own value, as a result of which affliction we tend to allow others’ appraisals to play a determining role in how we see ourselves. Our sense of identity is held captive by the judgements of those we live among. If they are amused by our jokes, we grow confident in our power to amuse. If they praise us, we develop an impression of high merit. And if they avoid our gaze when we enter a room or look impatient after we have revealed our occupation, we may fall into feelings of self-doubt and worthlessness.”
The question I leave with the reader is: how many times will you post something that goes unnoticed for you to feel hurt? Don’t compromise your time to become a misrepresentation of your human self. You are not perfect, your life doesn’t have to be either.