We live in a world where our social media lives bleed into our realities and overexpose us, while also enabling us to hide. We exist behind our filtered images, motivational quotes we do not actually live by, a false sense of connectedness and strategically-timed posts. Essentially, so many of us are on stage hiding behind the characters we wish to convey as our realities.
In our generation, gone are the days of the heartbroken being forced to sit in silence and sulk or actually leave their homes to mingle. An ego boost or emotional band-aid is only a like, a follow or a friend request away.
We remain so connected online that we are often entirely disconnected from ourselves. A woman scorned can wipe the mascara stains from her eyes, proclaim online that she is “Ready to take the world by storm” and convince herself and her audience that all is well in her artificially-constructed little ‘life.’ But just as flirtation, ego boosts and connecting with new conquests has become more attainable and convenient than ever, so has game-playing, passive-aggressive manipulation and vengeful, knife-turning opportunities.
People have become conditioned to avoid confrontation and, instead, use the untactful and passive-aggressive approach to gaining the attention of the object of their frustration by utilizing the ultimate of platforms: the social media stage. We utilize it to proclaim our independence and newfound single-hood, we make declarations about ridding our lives of that which is not working, we whine about what those in our lives are not doing enough of, we strategically flaunt our victories in the faces of those who have disappointed us and, last but certainly not least, convey our angst to those we would rather not confront directly. How convenient, right?
So… Was That Post About Me?
Have you ever been a victim of such passive-aggressive frustration? Almost 100 percent of the time, the poster anticipates the moment you will ask, “So, was that status about me?” If their post or tweet plants a seed of paranoia within you, it eliminates the need for them having to initiate the conversation at all. Most importantly, an awkward introductory speech nor preface is needed. Or, perhaps, their rant simply did not fit into the confines of 140 twitter characters. Perhaps, though, they may deny the post was ever about you at all. Either way, you know it was. You know that status was a cryptic rant, crafted only for your eyes to see. You know that Instagram quote was directed toward you. You know that blog post was a dig at you. You know that tweet was about you… don’t you?
…Or, was it?
Not so fast…
I like to occasionally celebrate and document my life online, as well as vent frustrations I feel others may relate to. I enjoy proclaiming my victories, documenting my travels and adventures, passionately expressing my opinions, sharing my husband’s odd idiosyncrasies and expressing my gratitude for those I love. It is thrilling to have an audience, sure, which is why I believe social media is as much fun as it is.
But I also know that no everyone is genuinely interested in my ever-changing hair color, my philosophical rants, my most recently published article, my dog’s spa day or the gourmet dinner I devoured on Valentine’s Day. It’s okay; I’m cool with it. I do not need interest from anyone outside of my life to validate the happiness or love within my life.
Mic in Hand, So on This Soapbox I Shall Stand…
An unfortunate byproduct of our ability to step onto the social media stage and engage our audience at any time is that we have become quite the paranoid culture. Insecurity and paranoia bleeds through our curiosities. Either not enough is about us or everything is. Either we are excluded or overexposed. We find ourselves measuring the depth and authenticity of our friendships by who posts the most pictures of our time spent together, or who leaves the most ego-stroking comments on our pictures.
The pendulum swings from paranoia to attention-seeking narcissism. We’re human. These extremes are a result of everyone’s ability to always possess a megaphone to speak through and a soap box to stand on. Gone are the days of being forced to endure face-to-face or voice-to-voice confrontation or… gasp!… undocumented conversation.
Sadly, so often people assume something posted online is about them when it isn’t at all. We have a false sense of relevance – thinking that everything we read is about us when the poster or Tweeter has dozens of other people in their lives to worry about.
We have become so conditioned by our friends, frenemies and adversaries utilizing the social media stage that we have all become hypersensitive to what others post. Everyone wants to believe they are relevant enough to have provoked another to create a post about them, whether good or bad. Truthfully, sometimes we are correct in our suspicions. Still, it’s as though some people assume that if they mention an interest in camping or skydiving, everyone who then posts anything related to camping or skydiving is surely attempting to gain their attention. In truth, it is often those who are chronically guilty of such manipulative social media behavior who assume everyone else is also.
It is tempting to assume everyone is interested in what we post every day, all day long. We all want to believe that everyone is listening – with their ears pressed to the door – when the mic is in their hand. But it just isn’t true. People are oftentimes more concerned with what others are thinking about them and are more focused on their own activity on Instagram and Twitter. It doesn’t mean they don’t care about you; it just means people are more conscious of what is transpiring on their stage than on your stage. Others just aren’t as emotionally entangled in our online activities as we may assume.
People like your images so that you will like their images. People share your Tweets so that you will share their Tweets. People delete posts and tags so that their most flattering content shows rises to the top. People attempt to manipulate and orchestrate their image comments so that they appear more desirable to others. People unfollow others solely because they were unfollowed by them. It’s as though we somewhat hold each other hostage to our social media profiles.
It’s contrived. It’s thirsty. It’s mildy to moderately narcissistic. It’s exhausting. But we all do it. We see right through the games other people play, but keep playing our own anyway. Each of us are products of this social media-driven generation. So put your semi-narcissistic hand in mine. We’re in this together.
Also: You’re so vain, you probably think this article was about you…