I want you to want me … and my posts. Or do I?
Making sense of the social media suck
Sweat gathers in the creases of my furrowed, pre-teen brow. My fingers push down the two basketballs, dribbling the left ball higher than the other. Switch. Now, the right ball bounces higher.
My form is perfect. I’ve been practicing and, damn, it shows. Cry your heart out Steve Nash, this basketball camp is my time to shine. This is my year. I want him to notice. Please, I pray to whatever form of God a 12 year old can conceive. Please, notice.
The eyes I’m trying to catch belong to the starting guard of our high school basketball team. He’s barely old enough to buy a lottery ticket and still has acne, but to me he’s a god. He’s high school cool. He’s everything I can conceive of wanting in life.
If he would just give me a shout-out, a bit of praise, I could die in peace. I’m certain I’ve never wanted anything more in my life. Please, notice.
Flash forward 12 years.
Sweat gathers in the creases of my furrowed, twenty-something brow. My fingers push words into existence on a tiny screen. The picture goes live. And now, I wait.
The eyes I’m trying to catch belong to you, to them, to anyone, really. That’s the power of the internet.
My post-run photo or tweet is available for the world to enjoy. And I want you to notice. I want them to notice. Well, again, I want anyone to notice.
Please, notice, my mind says as I open the app for the (insert stupid big number here) time to check the number of likes. Not enough. It’s never enough.
There’s always someone with more likes or better content. Our brains latch onto the notion that likes define our self-worth and a lack of notification love makes us feel lousy. This shouldn’t be surprising for anyone who’s ever thrown glorious vacation photos into the social media black hole and only received likes from immediate family members.
Reading study after study about the negative effects of social media (such as this or that) leaves me wondering whether posting is worth the cost. Young people will spend more than five years of their lives on social media. My platform of choice, Instagram, was rated worst for mental health among the major social platforms in May 2017.
Legendary music producer James Iovine made a career of producing larger than life personalities, such as Tupac, Springsteen and Tom Petty. In a recent interview with Bill Simmons, he acknowledged the intrinsic compare and despair nature of social media.
“How could my life compare to that?” Iovine said of Instagram. “Every kid I walk over to has anxiety and depression. I understand. How could you not have anxiety and depression when everybody you see on Instagram is having the greatest life in the world?”
Considering myself a wellness or mental health advocate, I’m left wondering if I undermine my message by using social media. Research draws a direct link between social media use and poor mental health outcomes, so am I really any different from a cardiologist making trips to the drive thru or the a pulmonologist smoking a pack a day?
Looking toward some of my follows on social media—here’s looking at you Rich Roll, Robin Arzon, Tommy Rivers Puzey—I keep up with their stuff because they inspire me. The filters and quippy captions don’t make me feel bad about myself. Instead, they push me to work harder.
That’s my goal with posting — to inspire others and show how easy it can be to get moving. If my work becomes finger-waggy, sensationalized or scripted, that’s a problem. That’s when I’ll have to step away from social media. That would be just contributing to the problem, with a perceived life damaging a person’s real life. There are accounts out there focused on boosting our mental well-being. I want to join their ranks.
Hold me accountable, friends.
Now that you’re done reading, go and like my stuff. Do it, do it now! My self-worth depends on it.
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