I was thinking today that Facebook is the ultimate exercise in show-and-tell. Remember that from kindergarten? Stand up there, show off something you like or care about, and tell people all about it. And, I think that if you treat Facebook (or any social media) that way, it’s a fairly innocuous thing. But, if you find you’re concerned about the number of replies you get to a post or if you’re using your posts to validate your decisions or any other aspect of your life, it might be time to take a step back.
I’ve got 288 Facebook “friends.” The “friends” is in quotes for a reason. All that word means in Facebookland is that I have viewing rights to 288 other people’s lives. I joined Facebook in 2008, so I’ve had years to study the way people use it. Some use it as a soapbox. Others use it for braggadocio. Some, quite sadly, use it to pump up their self-esteem. Some use it to avoid loneliness. Everyone gets something different from it, which is why it fascinates me. But, it all comes back to the notion that we all like to talk about ourselves. With Facebook, we can do it all day and all night and our spewing about ourselves ad nauseam is never considered narcissistic or obnoxious. It’s par for the course. It’s genius, really. Everyone is the center of their Facebook universe. How appropriately human.
I’ve always liked this quote: “What other people think of you is none of your business.” I more or less live by this notion. I learned early on that I am not for everyone, which is just fine with me because there are oodles of people I can do without as well. It’s nice to be liked, but if I’m not it doesn’t affect how I feel about myself. I’m here to find my own way. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and realize I was living someone else’s. Still, it’s easy to get sucked into caring too much what others think of you, especially when you throw yourself onto a social media site and pay too close attention to the responses you get. When you live that way, though, you’re not being authentic. I’ve seen my fair share of folks who clearly use Facebook for personal validation. I know, on occasion, I have been guilty of it too. But, what other people think of you is none of your business. It doesn’t matter. When it’s all said and done, the only person whose opinion about you should matter is your own. So, the next time you post something and no one seems to notice or care, throw yourself a dozen or so mental thumbs up Likes and move on. Facebook is show-and-tell. That’s all it is. Letting it be more than that is a waste of your precious energy on this planet.