"Public Opinions From Private Accounts"
Dictonary.com definition: Noun – A blow, especially with the hand; a cuff.
Meridian definition: Internet popularity, often attributed to how many likes, retweets, or comments are received on a social media post; must be read in the voice of either Cardi B or Offset.
We live in a time where you can have your words reach across the world in less than 2.5 seconds. Al Gore’s internet has created an amazing space that allows for just about anyone to become famous overnight if they have the right picture with the right caption. It’s actually pretty amazing. I’ve overheard reviews of captions and intense conversations about the best time to post something to promote the most likes and DMs. I mean, who doesn’t love getting new notifications? Every time our phone dings, it is almost like it’s saying: wow, people like me.
What a powerful, amazing, dangerous fallacy.
We are in a society that has unwittingly equated our digital footprint to our feelings of self-esteem. It’s no wonder that we can become obsessed with our social media feeds. Wake up in the morning, check Twitter. Down time at work, scroll through IG. Before bed, peruse Facebook. All day long, we are inundated with other people’s lives. We live vicariously through friends who are on vacation, celebrate engagements and pregnancy announcements, and silently lurk on drama. Even if you have decided to disconnect, I can almost guarantee that you have gotten a screenshot of something that someone somewhere didn’t want you to miss. With all this information, is it any surprise how easily we can fall into the comparison trap?
It's almost like we’ve entered this unseen, unending race against our peers. Social media provides us with a way to connect with others and to share our world. But what happens when that digital feedback becomes the biggest influence on how we view ourselves and our situations?
I like to think about the internet in terms of a relationship; it can be healthy and it can be toxic. In a healthy relationship, there are benefits, balance, and boundaries. Take Twitter. I love Twitter.** Being able to read other people’s stream of consciousness is such an amazing concept to me. When I am having a rough day, I am guaranteed to find at least three things that will make me literally laugh out loud. I can connect with like minded people, keep up with latest news updates and open my mind to new perspectives. However, I know that there is a downside that comes with it as well. Politics, tragedies, and debates about child support drain my energy. These are the days that I step away to create balance. And as for boundaries, anyone can get blocked. My timeline and DMs are exactly that, mine. I don’t owe anyone a space in my newsfeed or in my brain.
When you look at the toxic relationship with social media, along with a lack of balance and boundaries, there is dependence and damage. The idea of a clout chaser is someone who is in that place of dependence. The many research studies on the side effects of social media on mental health are quick to discuss the negatives of always being open to input. But we as clinicians have to admit that it can feel nice when we get positive feedback from our followers.
A heart eyed emoji can say, damn, I did look as good in that dress as I felt. Some praying hands are interpreted as: someone really connects to what I’m saying. We feel seen, heard and understood. The dependence comes into play when the interwebs becomes your primary source for those things. When you post a picture and it only gets three likes, you might feel like you have to step it up. Are you willing to do damage to your image for the clout? Are you willing to go against your values and tell the universe untruths to go viral? Every few months, I come across a story where someone has gotten internet famous and within a week they were revealed to frauds.
The information super highway has done an excellent job at delivering noise into our lives on 24/7 basis. As with anything, there’s gotta be balance. If you are noticing that your confidence and self-worth are dependent upon your online interactions, if might be worth taking a step back to reassess things. Feeling like you aren’t able to be the same person IRL as you are on Instagram, ask yourself: who am I trying to impress? Get anxious when you can’t access your phone or haven’t scrolled through twitter in a couple of hours? Try thinking about what it is that you get out of it.
The elders always used to say: Everything in moderation. That includes social networking! If you are struggling to find acceptance, happiness, or excitement outside of your timelines and newsfeeds, reach out for support, love. I can guarantee you that you are not alone in this arena.
**Black Twitter, you will get your own blog. This is a promise**