Social Media: The Age of Validation Via Likes & Retweets

I am 24-years-old and you would think that I would be drowning in the many social media cesspools that are anchoring my generation: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr,  Vine — and now I am hearing there’s something called Kaleidoscope?

Ahhhh!!!

I was not always this averse to social media. In my early teens, I was absolutely, positively intrigued by the onset of social media — it was a space where one can mingle and tingle with your friends without having to show your face and set foot outside your door.

I would get chills down my spine when I would log into my Myspace account and see the words like “New Comment!” “New Picture Comment!” on my dashboard. My eyes would light up to see that someone “liked” one of my photos. I would feel a warm virtual hug wrap around my body when I would read messages on my page like, “Just stopping by to say hi to my bestie! <3”

Myspace

Photo Credit: Kimberly Gedeon My recreation of Myspace mail

But — *record scratch * — let’s be honest, Myspace, the mother of today’s social media platforms, had an ugly side, a real monstrous character, that was much too unsightly to tolerate.

a)The Top 8 drama

b)The Internet Bullying

c)Jarring music and ugly, epilepsy-inducing flashing backgrounds

d)…and possibly worst of all, attention-seeking behavior.

I was no stranger to the latter. I, too, wanted the likes and praise. But I want to thank a family member who whooped my a** after finding that I’ve started posting suggestive photos on my Myspace page at the tender age of 15. And then it hit me, was I really trying to win the support of a stupid single-click approval? Was I really tying my worth to the number of likes I garnered on my photos and page?

Thankfully, by the time Facebook rolled around, I — thanks to the epiphany incited by my tough-talking family member — didn’t care if my posts garnered 0 likes or 367 likes. I started to put content out there that I knew was important to me — not what I thought people wanted to see. I posted my graduation photos, thoughts on social issues and pop culture, and more.

Whether you liked it or  not is not my problem. I liked it and that’s all that counts. Now here’s the issue — that latter mentality is what’s missing from my fellow peers.

And Instagram is the culprit behind it all.

Now I am a late-bloomer as IG usage is concerned. While everyone swarmed Instagram 2 or 3 years ago, I am just now hopping on the bandwagon that I was hoping to avoid until its wheels fell off. But with every social function I go to, when I meet someone new, it’s “So what’s your Instagram?”

The tone of this question tells me several things:

a)They automatically assume I have an IG because it’s too ubiquitous to not have one at this point

b) IG is the new Facebook (and FB, at the time, was the new e-mail. And e-mail, at the time, was the new phone number).

I realized that Instagram is now the new “contact info” and if you’d like to network, meet new people — and keep them within reach — you can’t escape the hellish dark holes of the Internet people like to call “social networking sites.”

IG is exactly what I thought it would be. A bunch of fools acting like my teenage self yearning for the oh-so-amazing approval of the wondrous double-tap. *Sarcastically says “Ooooooooh!”*

I kid you not — One day, I went out with my one of my closest friends and sorority sister, Alice. The day was winding down after a long walk at the park and a tummy filled with a chicken burrito from Chipotle. We stopped for a repose, and suddenly, Alice whipped out her phone, tapped the front-facing camera option, and said, “Let’s take a selfie.”

Bleugh. I hate taking pictures.

“No thanks Alice. Not feeling it,” I said, feeling bloated and tired.

“Aw come on, Kim! But how else will my Instagram followers know I went out and had a good time?”

…..

…….

Photo Credit: Photobucket.com

Photo Credit: Photobucket.com

“Erm…..what?” I said in disbelief. (Thank you Britney for emulating my exact reaction to my friend’s ridiculous comment to a T.)

I know social media has its upsides, but damnit, it’s too overshadowed by the current age of validation for double-taps and retweets to be appreciated. When did we, as a society, become more concerned with what our “followers” think of a photo rather than cherishing it as a memory for years to come?

When did we, as a society, become more motivated to go places — concerts, parties, and other social functions — for the sole purpose of showing off on Instagram rather than actually enjoying the company of your friends and other attendees?

Social media has swallowed my peers’ self-esteem and regurgitated it in a form of currency known as “retweets, reblogs, likes, doubletaps…and even “plusses” if you use Google+”

I have plenty more examples of social media idiocy to tackle, but I think I will cover them at another time.

But I will leave you with this, your worth is not correlated to how many people liked your half-naked photos on IG, it’s connected to how many hearts you’ve double-tapped in your life. And I don’t mean virtually. I mean in reality.

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