Facebook crashed today. As did Instagram.
With the majority of my social media interaction today being Snapchat and Twitter, I realized how heavily I relied on Facebook and Instagram for my “fix.” Much like all coffee contains caffeine and ought to be created equal, I felt like my jolt was eminating from a cold gas station brew instead of a delicious latte from a boutique cafe.
Before the sites were even down, I’d begun the arduous process of discussing social media and mental health with friends and family. In the retro style of the 90s, I actually interviewed many over the phone. It has grown beyond mental health and into a question of how much we rely on it daily. We have one point in utter agreement: Social media is a double edged sword.
It’s uses are showcased in a myriad of ways. We use it to keep in touch, sell unwanted items, and promote our businesses.
This afternoon, I found that I couldn’t post anything. I wanted to mindlessly scroll and like, love and share. When it later came back online, the only things I had missed were quizzes and viral videos. The loss of my primary social media as I began to write this piece worked out in a rather in a serentipious manner.
I log on, share photography projects, pictures of my son and random observations. I encourage loved ones in hard times to keep going because life gets better. I like that picture from a woman I haven’t seen in person since 8th grade. I politely turn down yet another invite to participate in the investment opportunity of a lifetime via yoga pants and lipstick. I block exes because I don’t want to see their beach strolls. Facebook sees to it that I get shown mutual friends or people I may know. Then, I log off for the night because I feel strangely drained and anxious over something so minute as an app. Then, I log onto Instagram. The perfectly messy moms, the influencers and their followers and beauty hacks leave me feeling like I need to lose weight, go to Sephora and read more to my child. That begs the question…
At the end of the day, don’t we all just want to be liked?
Why do I keep going back to an app that’s purpose in creation was to make me feel connected and I feel more alone than ever? And what happens when the policies put into place to protect us online are used to bully, rather than help?
I’m going to talk about bullying. Recently, Lady GaGa won an Oscar and a Grammy. Because when people receive positive accolades we must have an equal and opposite reaction, an old Facebook page made it’s way from the dust, her real name in quotes, entitled “Stefani Germanotta, you will never be famous.” Whether she is your taste in music or not, there is no doubt she is famous. Imagine the audacity of a group of others so hell bent on not only dissing her, but actively recruiting others to a private group to discuss her. How tragically petty this lot must be. However, she’s famous, so it’s to be expected. I was surprised to learn of the lengths my loved ones had been bullied online. Entire groups dedicated to their demise, loss of jobs, removal of sale items in the marketplaces and threats. When a woman declines a man’s private message, she was villified by not only him, but his friends. All she did was turn him down for coffee because she’s gay. Inboxes bursting with unwanted attention and when declined, hell breaks loose. Several received temporary bans because the injured egos of the parties used the report feature to turn the tables on the victim. None of this occurred when we were teens. These are men and women as adults, your neighbors, parents and those in respected professions, using an app to actively cause distress to another human being because they did not like them. Instead of simply not being friends with these people and taking it in stride, they decided bullying was the answer. We teach our children to be kind and love others, all the while we are checking our app to see what trolls are kicking up dirt.
Then, there are our relationships. We receive notifications when we have an “On This Day” on Facebook or “Memories.” Moments in time when we were happy that find their way into our feeds and we are left with an echo of a happier time, both nostalgic and distraught to see it once more. In the land of 5,000 friends, it must baffle some I only have a little over 100 friends on Facebook. I friend those that are interesting, positive and that I want to get to know better or have long known. I think nothing of blocking and unfriending if an individual is no longer a positive presence in my life. I am not friends with most of many exes online. It may not have ended well, I may still have feelings for that person or I simply decide that a clean break is best. Since when do we need to be friends with our previous lovers? There are memories from relationships that I will always treasure. I do not, however, feel the need to wish them happy birthday or share silly cat videos to their timeline. Some are genuinely angry at me and have lashed out. I see it more like this… We had a special moment in time together and it is now over. It is painful to watch someone we loved, were intimate with and not so long ago called baby move on while we are still healing from our wounds.
Yet, I still log on.
I log on for the mental health group I am a moderator on. I want to let others know they are loved, supported and cheered on.
I log on for the mommy group I admin. I love the strength of the women who are determined to do their best, no matter how the world might knock us down.
I log on to share pieces of myself with others and at the end of the day, don’t we all just want to be … liked?