Are your eyes drawn to see how many ‘likes’ you’ve received from your recent Facebook (FB) post? Do you notice how many ‘friends’ people have on their FB page? Have you ever removed a post from FB because no one ‘liked’ it?
Being ‘liked’ has new meaning in today’s social media society. Being liked is no longer a feeling you have, now it is a visible number on every social media screen you participate in. Your popularity is now a number, and everyone knows it! Our popularity, our social status, a kind of social standing is based on a number of likes, of views, of friends, on each social media account you are involved with.
I am seeing the dawning of social media in a particularly vivid way, as I have been living socially ‘off the grid’ for the past four years. By this I mean – no cable tv, no internet connection at my home, no smart phone (minimal cell phone use due to our home’s isolated location). Partially, off the grid. I believe ‘the grid’ in the world no longer refers to the electrical grid, but I believe the current ‘grid’ the world revolves around would more accurately be the social media grid.
As a newbie blogger and Facebooker (a four month old baby), I believe I have a fresh perspective to share. As a 53 year old mom, I am now aware of my status, and I feel the effects of my non-participation, acutely. I have under 100 friends on Facebook. That’s right. I am of newly realized unpopular status. Not since high school have I been so aware of my popularity amongst my peers. I have gone from living a chosen isolated island life to a newly ‘plugged in’ social media wanna-be. Barely noticed, in social media channels.
I will admit, I tell myself I ‘chose’ this lifestyle, but do I ‘like’ it? Probably not. I suffer from a competitive streak, as many do. For this prehistoric dinosaur, this new world requires some bravery (‘will you be my friend?’ – brings back insecurities from elementary school), this world requires some technological edge (BYOT – bring your own tech – I have my own computer programming husband, whew!), also required added memory (which password did I use for that account?), thick skin to withstand the battery of images that assault my senses. Beauty and comparison and envy stand knocking at the door requiring vigilant shutting out. And, then, there is that ole ‘like’ button. Really, who doesn’t want to be ‘liked’?
I am starting to build in some protective devices to maintain a healthy viewpoint amidst the continual stream of information, the perpetual temptation to comparison, the gnawing need to be ‘liked’. My ideas are as follows:
1) OFF button, use it regularly! (True fact: Recently a friend asked Siri how to turn her iPhone off…she didn’t know!).
2) INPUT – monitor it. I used to tell my daughters when they were younger to ‘eat as much healthy food as you do junk food’. Perhaps that can apply to our social media diet. Try for balance. Make sure that we have an equal balance of healthy input in our social media smorgasbord. Keep inputting some ‘truth’, the God kind, along with the barrage of other information.
3) And, PRAY. Four little letters that spell r.e.l.i.e.f (God’s perspective!). Communication without a cell phone (unbelievable)! Irreplaceable by any earthly media event. Apple…..eat your heart out, you can’t buy into this market!
4) And, PEOPLE. You feel like you have enough with your 999 friends on Facebook, but we need to see people face to face (not face to Facebook). Real conversations. Real time, it’s right before your eyes (and you can hug it). Let social media be an ‘add on’ to your social life, not the main event.
5) ‘LIKE’ Generously, ‘Like’ Often. I believe to take away the harsh edge and bitter aftertaste of ‘likes’ we should ‘like’ frequently, thereby, making this social phenomenon less effectively harmful. I believe we should ‘like’ our neighbors, as ourselves.