When I tell people I work in social media, I can almost always guess what they are thinking before they even say it: “Oh, so you’re like on social media all day? Do you have a lot of followers? Are you insta-famous?” Besides using social media as a networking platform with friends, family, and co-workers, I use it for work to develop a solid understanding of how each platform works, the difference in audiences/demographics, successful and unsuccessful methods of sharing, etc (and of course basic social connecting purposes). I look at social media in terms of business and brand development. I use it for work, which is creating and managing an ‘on-brand, consistent, positive, and engaging’ image/voice for our company. This short summary of social media management has also been named “digital marketing” or “digital content management.” The social media team now works with the marketing team, and the marketing team works with the advertising/sales team. We are advertising our brand to have a strong presence on social that portrays an incredibly appealing, modern, and positive business. This is how humans essentially advertise themselves as well on each of these popular social media channels.
Most of us are not sharing the shitty part of our lives, we are sharing the vacation to Paris, the new diamond Tiffany ring, and the selfie taken in perfect natural lighting. In conjunction, McDonald’s advertises their burger that was prepared with the fluffiest bread, the juiciest meat, and the freshest lettuce — not the one that was thrown together in 17 seconds and smashed between thin ripped paper. It is natural, of course, to want to share the best parts of our life with our community and those browsing our timelines. We want people to make it seem like we are hashtag #blessed, #killing it, and live a life that is hella #LIT.
However, it has gotten to a point where I’ve noticed [what looks like] excessive narcissism and/or insecurity with the amount of effort being put in to certain people’s feeds. You know how they say there is a thin line between love and hate? This is essentially how I feel about narcissists and self-doubters. Both are overwhelmingly obsessed with their image — one thinking extremely highly of themselves, and the latter thinking pessimistically about themselves. People think those who continuously post selfies are super into themselves (#narcissist), but others may say that it is a cover up for their insecurity. I mean, if you are constantly posting photos of yourself, are you constantly in need of seeking approval from others? You can argue both ways, and both points are valid. Some people say those who truly love themselves and are confident don’t feel the need to constantly posts selfies, body shots, etc. Yet, there are others who post revealing photos (example: Kim Kardashian) of their body and frequently state that they are just prideful and love their body.
There is no right or wrong answer to this. I think a lot of this as the “gray area” I was talking about in my last post. Life is not black and white, and just because you post a selfie doesn’t mean that you are an egotistical asshole or that you’re desperately seeking attention from others. When I was writing my senior thesis in college, I researched the word “selfie” for about a week. There were so many different definitions and meanings behind the selfie. I think we can all agree though that each selfie is unique, which makes the definition of a selfie ultimately undefinable.
Some people, though, don’t care about the perfect selfie or the perfect body shot, they are focusing on the overall image of their life rather than themselves. What does it look like when you have 5 followers compared to 500? It is assumed that the person with 5 friends is either weird, unpopular, not good looking, doesn’t have many friends, or is not an interesting person. Okay, but how about 500? That must mean that if someone has 500 followers, they are way cooler than the person with 5 followers, much better looking, more interesting, and definitely worth keeping up with. Obviously, right?
So that is the deal about followers. The other #totes vital thing about your postings is the amount of likes you receive. Because this is like a popularity contest, right? If you get a lot of votes, you win Prom King. If you get a likes on your IG post, that means you are pretty, awesome, smart, fun, etc. You are getting the stamp of approval from your followers, which means you are doing a good job. However, it seems like social media has turned into a contest of who has the most likes and followers, rather than just a website or app to share content about ourselves. Think of the “popular” group back in high school – what classified them to be part of this group? Was it their looks, their talent, their socioeconomic status? When I look back at this group from my high school days, the popular group of girls and guys were good-looking, funny, and dressed well. Some were smart, but most were your average-grade students. Now go to the popular pages of Instagram — who are the “insta-famous” celebs? Typically super good looking, super fashionable, or super funny individuals. Pretty similar, right?
I feel as if I am running off on a tangent here — so I am going to try and look back into what I came here to #vent about. The thing that has been really frustrating for me lately is realizing that I have friends who care more about their likes they get on Instagram and the followers they have, rather than their genuine opinion about what they are sharing. For example, I know a lot of people who are passionate about a certain cause, charity, or political view — however, if they were to share something like that, something so “not sexy” or visually appealing — they would get little to no likes. Yet, a picture of them out on the weekend, wearing a crop top and a short skirt, perfectly posed with their friend against a wall is “super Instagram worthy.” WHAT? Yes, apparently advocating and informing your followers about a cause you are passionate about (and trying to make the world a better place) is not as important as your drunk photoshoot from this weekend. This. Is. Sad. But. This. Is. True.
One of my life mantras is “you are who you surround yourself with.” I’ve discovered throughout the years that the type of people I surround myself with have had the strongest positive or negative influence on my life. One of my roommates from college, Megan, is probably the most uplifting, bubbly, positive, and good-hearted humans I have ever met. The more I hung out with her, the more optimistic I felt, the less depressed I felt, and the less anxious I felt. When I hung out with others who were quick to judge others, gossip in the corner of a crowded party, or talk about all the shitty things going on in life, I felt more self-conscious and negative about my life. I believe that “proximity is power,” and who you choose to surround yourself with will determine the way you view your life. I have discovered that the more I hung out with people who cared about the amount of likes and followers they have on social media, the more self-conscious I felt. Their obsession with seeking approval from others made me feel like I also needed to fight for approval from the public. Were these “friends” really just competing with me? Competing to have the most dominant social profile?
After taking the time to really think about how this behavior was affecting my mood, I also realized that these people were also the one’s who would obsess over luxury brand/materialistic items. For example, I have heard one of these ‘friends’ say, “Oh my God. She has a Celine bag. She must be SO lucky.” I actually don’t have 1 word to encompass all the emotions I was feeling at that very moment, but something along the lines of embarrassed-angry-frustrated-livid-fuming-heartbroken-confused would do the trick. I truly felt speechless. How can you look at someone and assume they are lucky just because they have an expensive bag? So… you assume they are lucky OBVIOUSLY because they have this luxury item… but of course not taking into account that maybe their family member has cancer, they were robbed last month, they have a horrible disease they don’t even know about yet, they lost their job yesterday, etc. But WHO CARES, right, since they have a Celine bag. That is #OBV way more important…
I am already getting heated typing this out. I have heard other things as well such as, “That girl is so lucky, she has so many followers” or “Of course I want a nice car. All guys want a nice car like a Maserati” or “Yeah but is that even like a good designer?” Before I explode from a mix of confusion, frustration, and anger… I will finish up here. What is more important to you? The amount of likes you get on Instagram or how many people actually like your physical presence in a room? The Fendi bag in your closet, or your Twitter followers, or the family members at your Thanksgiving table? What do you want to define you?