The Shameful History of Social Media Validation
Ah yes, the wonderful world of social media.
A place where someone could raise enough money to cover their chemotherapy sessions but also a place where one can be anonymously bullied to the point of committing suicide. A place where someone can find inspiration to realize their dreams but also a place where one’s privacy is constantly in jeopardy. A place where someone can reconnect with an old friend but also a place where one’s questionable decisions have taken them out of the running for a job.
You already know this. The effects of social media on its users aren’t usually as extreme as some of the examples mentioned above, but it has had a profound impact on the lives of millennials.
For my age group (~23 years old), it all started with MySpace. Word used to spread around the middle school hallways about who had the most popping MySpace page with a dope background and fire music like the rumor of who kissed who before goal room. It may have taken us a few minutes to gain access to the internet, but once we did, we were pasting GIFs onto our page, adding the latest Yung Joc release to our music playlist and writing on our best friend’s wall.
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That all sounds pretty good, right? That’s because I haven’t mentioned the “Top 8” yet. Granted we were young and immature, but the Top 8 ended and strengthened relationships everywhere. If you saw your friend Paul put Mike number one and you number two, there was serious problems, especially if you had Paul number one on your Top 8. Tom from MySpace created a system where you were ranked according to how much your friends liked you and you needed validation from your friends to feel good about yourself. If you were number one on four different people’s Top 8, you were a fucking boss.
Then came Facebook. Facebook was the wave that killed off MySpace as it seemed everyone was becoming more “mature.” There weren’t a ton of features on the social media website that enabled people to gain recognition from others but logging on to a bunch of pokes, profile picture comments and likes on your latest note was definitely satisfying.
Since the early days of Facebook, it has become more of a social network for older generations but there are still many using it to feel better about themselves. You know that girl who posted 30 pictures of her graduating college? Me too. Don’t you hate opening up the app to a new selfie of a dude flexing in the gym mirror? I’m not friends with anyone like that on Facebook but I know it happens. How great is it when someone goes on vacation and posts 110 pictures and videos? Nobody gives two shits. Facebook has become a social network where people post accomplishments hoping for some validation.
Instagram, you’re up next. Easily the most recognizing out of all the social media platforms, it’s a shame what it has done to society. The pressure it’s put on both males and females to look attractive for people they don’t know is insane. Don’t know someone who requests to follow you but figure it may lead to an extra like on each picture? Approve that shit. Low on likes and need some more? Hashtag a popular hashtag or do some follow for follow thing on Kylie Jenner’s profile.
Want to know why all this stuff works? Because many millennials view followers and likes as cool. Someone could have bought 50,000 followers on Instagram but if they get a ton of likes and comments, people will think they’re popular and look at them in a better light. Don’t know if you’re one of these people? Answer this honestly: Would you make that trip to Atlantic City or take that vacation to Cancun if you weren’t allowed to post any pictures on Instagram? That says it all…
Last but definitely not least, Snapchat. Honestly, I’ve grown to hate it. Snapchat used to be great, seeing funny pictures and videos from your friends but it’s becoming a platform where people show everything that they’re doing in order to look cooler in the eyes of other people. Why do you think they added the creepy map feature? They know that they allow people to brag in real time about what they’re eating, where they’re at or what they’re doing.
If you’re a girl on Snapchat, I’m sure there isn’t anything more validating than posting a selfie and getting tons of replies by guys looking to hit. It boosts your self-confidence and ultimately leaves you feeling better about yourself. As Instagram continues to upgrade their stories feature, Snapchat is losing popularity quickly and it’s only going to get worse unless they come up with something revolutionary.
Have you noticed a common theme in all of these social media platforms? They all put our happiness in external hands. There was a time where we would do things that we liked because it made us feel good. In 2017, many think that they have to do, and post, what’s cool or they won’t get recognition on social media, leaving them feeling insecure.
I decided to write this post because I’m tired of seeing people on social media do things for other people just to feel secure about themselves. Fuck that, do what you like to do and the right people will fuck with you. Do you think it’s the coolest thing on Earth to drink and post Snapchats every weekend even though you hate it? You’re going to attract borderline alcoholics and you’re going to be forced to be one.
Not only am I advising that you do what you like to do, but seek validation from the inside. Happiness should come from within, not from people double tapping a picture or complimenting you. Love yourself or else no one will.