Like many people, I have a love-hate relationship with social media. I often feel swamped by messages and posts, have wasted too much time on Facebook, and feel overwhelmed by all the different platforms available to us today.
But as someone who lives far from family and friends, I appreciate having this means of staying in touch, sharing and seeing photos, reconnecting with people from earlier days, connecting with relatives I didn’t know. Those things I like about social media.
But there are aspects that trouble me too. Why do we feel compelled to post photos of ourselves? There seems to be something vaguely narcissistic about posting our faces and our lives on the Internet for the world to see. At least the faces and lives that we want the world to see.
When we post on Facebook, Twitter, or elsewhere, we present ourselves and our lives in a way of our choosing, which is not necessarily how things actually are. Not that we don’t do that when we are with people–we often keep things to ourselves–but our presence on social media is in the form of snapshots that are frozen in time and gives an impression that our whole life is as we post it. There isn’t the added element of interpretation available to the viewers of the post, such as body language, tone of voice, facial expressions.
Happy times, beautiful scenery, wonderful trips, loving relationships, great achievements–on Facebook life is good. But what we don’t show is how we worry, or how our stresses affect our psyche, or how we slept badly or grouched at someone we love, or that we struggle to get through a day because of an anxiety we just can’t shake.
I am often conflicted about posting. There are times when I want to post experiences because I wish I could have shared the experience with friends, like an amazing sunset or rainbow, and putting them on Facebook is the only way possible to share it with them. Other times I feel as if I’m bragging, rubbing my good fortune in people’s faces. That’s not what I’m doing, but it can feel like that nonetheless.
Yet that rainbow or sunset over the water is not really what my life is about; it’s only a very minute piece of that day, of that moment.
Sometimes I get so tired of feeling pressure to post, to read everyone else’s posts, to make sure I “like” so they don’t think I’m ignoring them. Do you feel like that at times?
We authors are encouraged to create a presence on social media to connect with our readers. That’s how I got started on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn. (I am stunned to list that many since I really only use Facebook and not the others, even though I have profiles with them.) Personally I would rather connect with my readers through the books I write than with what goes on in my life. At times I’d love to put social media profiles behind me.
But then I wouldn’t see photos of my new grand-niece, or know that a friend completed a half marathon, or see how another friend’s garden is growing…
How do you feel about social media?