Always Connected, Yet So Disconnected...
We live in a world where our social media lives bleed into our realities and enable us to hide. We hide behind our filtered images, the motivational quotes we do not actually live by, a false sense of friendships and strategically-timed posts. Essentially, the majority 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, thereby, convince herself that all is well in her artificially-constructed little life. However, just as flirtation, ego boosts and connecting with new conquests has become more 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, Liiiike... 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. No awkward introductory speech nor preface is needed. Perhaps, even, their rant simply did not fit into the confines of 140 twitter characters. They may deny the post was ever about you at all. Either way, though, you know it was. You know that status was created for your eyes to see. You know that tweet was about you... don't you?
...Or, was it?
Possibly, but 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 also thrilling to have an audience, which is why I believe social media is as much fun as it is. We're all just sort of closet fame whores.
I have also come to realize, however, that not everyone is genuinely interested in my ever-changing hair color, philosophical rants, my most recently published article, my dog's spa day or the steak dinner I devoured on Valentine's Day. It's okay; I'm cool with it. Lack of interest from others is not going to stop me from sharing what I desire to share. I believe we all must come to understand that we do not need anyone's interest in our lives to validate the happiness or love within our lives.
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 little culture. Insecurity and paranoia bleeds through our curiosities. Either not enough is about us or everything is. Either we are excluded or overexposed. Some find themselves measuring their friendships by who posts the most pictures of them or leaves ego-stroking comments the most often. The pendulum swings from paranoia to attention-seeking narcissism. Such 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 confrontation or... gasp!... undocumented conversation.
Sadly, so often people assume something posted online is about them when it isn't at all. 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, either good or bad. Truthfully, sometimes they are correct in their 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. Usually it is those who are guilty of such manipulative social media behavior who assume everyone else is also.
People assume everyone is interested in what they post every day, all day long. People assume everyone is listening when the mic is in their hand. The truth is, though, people are often more concerned with what others are thinking about them. 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.
We like images so that others will like our images. We favorite tweets so that others will favorite our tweets. We delete posts and tags so that our most flattering content shows the most relevance and is, therefore, showcased. I've known girls who have manipulated and orchestrated their image comments so that they appear more desirable to others. We unfollow those who unfollow us. It's as though we somewhat hold each other hostage to our social media accounts. It's vain. It's contrived. It's thirsty. It's inauthentic. It's narcissistic. It's exhausting. It's a total waste of time. Most of all, it's obvious.
We see through the transparency of the games others play online. Everyone knows better, yet we do it anyway. It's okay, though. Each of us are products of this social media-driven generation and, therefore, oftentimes slaves to our egos. So put your narcissistic hand in mine. We're in this together.
P.S. You're so vain, you probably think this article was about you...
I'm just being honest.