We are told we are all living in a narcissistic world, where we all take selfies and overshare too much. Where we get upset because our posts don’t get any interaction. Simply because we compare it to once upon a time where we’d write dairies and be mortified if anyone was to read them. We mock people for their social media presence labelling them as oversharing, attention seekers or claim that they being inauthentic or worse liars. We say it’s not real. That people are only showing themselves in their best light. Only posting their best photo, the good times and saying the stuff that sounds funny or in some way makes them look good. Assuming people aren’t being real or simply being drama queens. I’m no exception. I’ve rolled my eyes at a fair few Facebook statuses in my time. OK now that is a lie, I’ve probably eye-rolled at hundreds of Facebook statuses.
I don’t think we overshare. I think that’s the lie. I think we under share. I wrote a post almost 3 months ago now about my childhood and what happened next was unexpected. I received private messages, in fact, a shocking amount of messages of people who were victims of the exact same thing. The numbers of people who contacted me really hit it home, just how much we don’t share. Sometimes speaking up is just too much to bear. So we bottle it up. I get it. Believe me, I do and I care. This is just one example of how we under share. Yes, boundaries, but bottling our pain hurts us. We’ve got a serious mental health crisis but when people speak out, we call them attention seekers.
A more light heartened example is when I hear people saying they don’t write on social media, start that blog up or take the plunge with their dream because they think they might look silly or that they aren’t talented enough. They think putting themselves out there is all a bit weird and not the done thing. This stems from every time you’ve witnessed someone eye roll at another person’s social media activity or that conversation over a cuppa with friends where someone unknowingly to them was mocked for their post. You’ve been there when people have talked, laughed, judged or simply bitched about someone purely for their latest post, photo or tweet. If you’re honest with yourself you’ve probably got involved or started it at times.
We claim people have lost their sense of self in their selfie, but maybe, just maybe they have found themselves. I can remember a time when I didn’t dare take a selfie for fear of being judged or that it would mean I’m vain. Taking that selfie would mean that I loved myself. There is something very wrong with this. We are supposed to love ourselves, not in an ‘I’m better than you way’, but in a way that says I’m OK with me. I’m comfortable with myself and I’m good enough. There is something very wrong when we think that’s a bad thing. In my experience lots of people who take selfies don’t love themselves, in fact, I wish they did.
What’s really screwed up is we have ‘friends’ on social media who we ignore because quite frankly they do our heads in. Yet we choose to have them on our friend’s list. We give attention to celebrities who we think are vile by sharing their latest cruel statement and we talk about them and give them our energy, making them more famous and wealthier. We click on the posts they write or we buy the paper they’re in. In doing so we are inadvertently teaching people that’s how to get attention. Yet, we ignore the friend you’ve chosen to have on Facebook for making it all about themselves.
We get on our pedestal and judge people who use social media in a different way than us. Maybe we shouldn’t have people on our Facebook in the 1st place if we catch ourselves eye-rolling or bitching about their content. Perhaps before accusing others of being fake we should make sure we are flawless too in authenticity.
I don’t think I know anyone who shows all of themselves to everyone (nor do I always think it’s always safe to do so, it’s often a shaming experience). Not because they are being fake, but because we were taught from a young age to make a good impression. From how we look, speak and act. We are told it all matters and we should behave accordingly. Every time we tidy our house before guests come over is that real? If you’re making it nice for them and it’s not in its natural state. Yet, that’s very socially acceptable, because you’re making it nice for others. Do that online though and oops your fake. Yes, sometimes people online are fake (often), but also people offline are too (often). We have been conditioned to be. We’ve all played our role in keeping that going if we are honest. Whether it’s because we were/are inauthentic and ingenuine ourselves at times or that we judged others. Doing so makes it feel unsafe for others to be truly fully authentically expressed and yet, judgement is natural but we must keep an eye on it if we genuinely want people to be real. The truth is most people only want real authentic expression from others if it aligns with what they think is the appropriate way to be. Otherwise, it’s often an unconscious shaming hurtful experience for the other party where we often try to get the other party to think the way we do because we all like to think we are right.
We are told to raise awareness of mental health and charitable causes, but base it on ourselves because that’s where your knowledge lies and now you’re an attention-seeking drama queen who makes everything about yourself. We judge people for putting all their drama online, but if you catch a vlogger or Facebook friend only sharing the good bits you call them a phoney. So where is the line? Sure they are liars and big heads, but there always has been. This is not a new thing that’s just magically happened in the digital world. People don’t share everything, but that’s always been the case. Just before it wasn’t done online, but instead via a stiff upper lip.
I don’t share all my small-minded thoughts. I don’t tell you every time I yell at the kids, have a strop with my hubby or get insecure about something that I feel is me just being pathetic. To share every moment would be to press the self destruct button because not everyone deserves to hear it. To not share everything is to have some self-worth. To not share at all would mean you’re missing out on connecting with others. To share only the good with you all, would mean I’m talking BS. I think this is where the whole people being fake, narcissistic and attention-seeking comes into question, but who are we to say what this looks like? Who decides what the right balance is? Share, but don’t share too much. Be real, but don’t be negative. Be happy, but don’t be a show-off. Engage but don’t look desperate. Speak your truth, but be careful not to offend anyone. Love yourself, but not too much as you might become vain or deemed as arrogant. Conflict much?
We can communicate with others all around the world. We can connect with everyone. Sure people can get upset when someone ignores their post, but ask yourself this, would you ignore them in person if they spoke to you? I would sincerely hope not. So if you’ve chosen to be connected with them online and you deem them as fake or they simply get on your nerves maybe you have to ask yourself who really is being fake? I’m not saying you should respond to everything everyone writes, that’s impossible. You do have to ask yourself if I never want to respond to this person why I am allowing them to be here. Sometimes we have to take another look at ourselves.
Yes the majority of us should spend more time chatting in person than we currently do. Yes most of us should spend less time on social media, but maybe just maybe things are more real now than they ever have been. We have been given the gift to talk to other humans all around the world, there is nothing that could connect us more. The only thing that separates us is comparison, believing others are more or less worthy and our judgement on another’s behaviour whether that be online or offline.
Less judging more living,