Shared in stories the awful news of a girl in County Durham, England, who took her own life – at least partially (per her family’s take), due to the impact of social media.
The title of the article read: “Social media obsessed teen who ‘killed herself’ thought she wasn’t good enough unless she was getting likes.” As @drjenonline reminded me, these stories & the outcomes are never that simple. Suicide is a confluence of factors all coming together – underlying past events, traumas, genetics…& the social media piece here could have been the tragic final piece to a complicated puzzle.
It still makes me want to dive into what we have done to a society – that places so much emphasis on social media acceptance. This topic gets talked abt a lot, but only in a very surface level way – “don’t measure yourself based on likes”…”who cares what others think”…but let’s really dive into the X’s & O’s.
Before there was ever social media – ppl still measured themselves based on observations – how many invites to the prom, how often picked 1st/last in gym class, how often called to hang out w friends, etc. Sadly, human nature, bc we want to be accepted, rather than being ok loving ourselves, alone, MOST of us seek the attention & often approval of others. Good, bad or indifferent, that’s how it is. We are humans. We feel, & want to be accepted.
Social media puts those measurements on steroids. Likes, follows, comments, etc. And everyone posts (if they post) w their own unique set of motivations. For me – I want to move ppl to action & challenge conventional thoughts/help ppl get healthier. For others it’s validation – looking good in a pic, losing weight, a dress looking nice, kids being cute. That’s not to say there aren’t some who post merely to share pics w fam/friends to keep everyone posted on the latest. But, by & large, some form of acceptance motivation underlies many/most posts.
What’s very scary & sad is how much likes, follows, etc., dominate self worth bc of the objectives listed above. If you get 50 likes, you’re not happy bc you can reach 75. It’s a never ending game of catch up/keep up, COMPETING w not just others, but ourselves.
Why are likes/follows not an accurate reflection of anything? Bc we live in a world wrought w jealousy, pain, vindictiveness & hurt. The “reaction” we get on social media (or lack thereof), is AS much a reflection of the people who are hurting & in pain themselves, as it is those who admire & appreciate us.
Looking for likes bc you love the way a shirt looks on you? Unfortunately there are those who will skip your post just bc of their jealousy of how good you DO look. Looking for likes bc your kid is adorable w a great smile in a pic? Unfortunately there are those who compare their kids to yours & don’t feel like giving your pic any love.
Heck, we have a page trying to help ppl & it’s pretty darn clear there are those that look at us as a “company” they are “competing” w & refuse us any love. Again, human nature. An ugly part of human nature, but human nature nonetheless.
So if our # of followers & # of likes are influenced, even partially, by those who themselves are hurting, jealous, competitive in pain, etc., why would we give credence to those tallies? Candidly, I’m hellbent on “views” as a measurement, bc my objective is to get ppl to read & think.
If a post gets only a few likes or many likes, it matters less to me than how many I had the potential to impact (hopefully positively) through views.
I don’t have the full answer, but it’s time we showed our kids, the flaws of measurements based on things such as “likes & follows.” We need real campaigns to take the legitimacy out of these metrics bc they are flawed – need parents to explain it to their kids. Piercing a hole in this belief that those metrics in any way accurately measure one’s self worth, would help a lot of folks, & could even lead to saving lives.