From the day that social media entered our lives, things changed forever. Our ability to constantly share and update friends, family and acquaintances is absolutely incredible. However, with every pro there lies a con.
At first glance, it’s hard to imagine what’s so competitive about social media. How can sharing our photos at the beach or of study abroad trips be causing problems? It may sound trivial, but it actually causes a great deal of anxiety and competition among us.
The prevalence to appear cool or trendy online is very real. No one wants to blast their lowest points in life into cyberspace, but we do want to show off our highest ones. We quickly jump on the chance to share fashionable outfits, family vacations, special moments etc.
It’s one thing to want to keep your close friends and family in the loop, but we all know that this is probably no longer the primary reason we use social media.
A few shares and live updates later, and you suddenly find yourself unarmed and on a digital battlefield: “Why is no one liking my picture yet?” “Do I look good enough in this to share it?” “No one commented on this status, I need to delete it,” “Look how many followers they have, wow!”
Does any of this hit close to home?
We have allowed our phones to suck us into a never-ending and addictive feedback loop of likes, shares, and retweets. We have to ask ourselves, would we really be sharing these images if no one was going to interact with them? The answer is probably not.
Our social media use has become a game of seeking other people’s approval rather than fulfilling our own, personal satisfaction. With catchy phrases like, do it for the insta and pics or it didn’t happen, circulating, it’s easy to get caught up in the trend.
We start finding ourselves striving to do the coolest things in order to appear the most impressive. In reality, we should be striving to make ourselves happy, not achieving the most online interactions.
It’s easy to lose ourselves in this digital reality. We may find ourselves aiming to have the most ‘likes’ or the most followers. Essentially, we are chasing the highest amount of other people’s approval, and why? Because it’s cool to have approval. It feels good to have others reinforce your beliefs.
It’s reassuring when 89 people tell you that what you are doing, or have accomplished is great.
The “Like” button now symbolizes the idea that you are successful, but it also places a wedge between all of us, whether we realize it or not:
“Aw, you got more likes than me!” “How do you have so many followers?” “That’s a great shot, that’s going to get soo many likes.”
Followers and likes are representative of how many people we have giving us the approval we desire. Often, when we compare ourselves to others who have received more interactions, we find ourselves feeling badly about it.
This can eventually cause us to fall victim to the game and makes us play even more. We even start getting strategic about what we share.
So we start using hashtags to increase our prevalence in the search engine, some people start using more risqué images to attract attention, and others use wealth as a means to gain a following.
You know that this sounds silly in the grand scheme of things, but it honestly represents a bigger battle within society.
We all want to feel accepted and we all want to feel liked, so we use our social media accounts to compete with one and other. Maybe this is done without consciously thinking about it, but most likely, you’re comparing yourself to the millions of other people you see online.
We use our number of followers and approval rate as ways to make ourselves feel secure in our behavior and lifestyle. We also have allowed other peoples’ approval to dictate how we feel about ourselves. Have you ever deleted a photo, or removed a status or tweet because no one interacted with it?
My guess is that you have.
What did we do before all of this existed? We lived our lives and didn’t think twice about what we did.We cannot let online interactions determine how we feel about ourselves.
Judgment is coming – but it always has and always will be coming. Get off the battlefield, and get back into reality. The world can feel competitive enough all on its own. Use social media as a way to let your guard down rather than having your defenses up.