Ever since I’ve involved myself in the world of social media again, I’ve become entangled in the validation game again.
I am at the beginning stages of creating a business and as an enthusiastic newbie, I already understand the power social media platforms can have for attracting new clients.
However, one of the main reasons I don’t model/act anymore is because I was never comfortable selling myself as a product. Shyness always got in the way.
But now I am involving myself in causes and interests I really believe in, and it’s not about me which makes it much easier.
But sometimes it stings when you’re really passionate about something and it feels like the world wide web isn’t so interested. Can we blame it on the Algorithm or do people just not care?
I’ve never been too enthusiastic or strategic with social media. I lose interest in it quite quickly and revert back to putting pictures up of cute animals and psychology quotes. But I know there are a lot of people who are able to gain a mass following from selfies (and belfies) alone. What used to be ‘too much’ is now celebrated.
I guess sex sells.
I wonder if I use the right marketing strategies I can accumulate a mass following of people who listen to what I say? Should I put more selfies up to get more likes? Why do others get more likes than I do? Do I need followers to gain success or success to gain followers? Why aren’t I enough? Why is it only small businesses and random weirdo’s who follow me?
This must stop. ‘Black Mirror’ was right we are becoming nothing more than rating addicts. I don’t want to be defined by my ‘followers’ or ‘likes’. It’s not too dissimilar from school but instead of competing to be popular with your peers, you’re competing with what seems like the world.
What I personally find difficult is keeping a balance between using social media as a platform for my work and not letting it eat up at my sense esteem. I had a break from social media for 6 months and I noticed some massive changes in my outlook which you can read about here. Since I’ve been back ‘online’ the compulsive checking and the mini ‘highs’ I get from the ‘likes’ has started to creep back in.
Intellectually, almost everyone knows that inner peace and happiness does not come from the external (and if it does it’s short-lived). But that doesn’t stop us trying to crack the system. Social Media is the EPITOME of external validation, so why do we keep falling for it? ‘Herd Mentality’ perhaps? Or maybe ‘this time it will be different’?
I think in this day and age it is really important to differentiate between ‘yourself’ from your online presence. It’s an avatar, no one is who they say they are online and it’s important to remember that. The online comparison is, even more, deceiving these days because people proclaim this online presence is how they are in everyday life, taking selfies at their local restaurant or jumping into a bed of flowers. It’s b*llshit.
Someone with 500,000 followers may be wondering why someone who is similar to them has 1,000,000 followers, you never ‘win’ in this game.
There are a number of reasons someone else could have a bigger following. They could have had a following from back in the days of ‘Myspace’ for example. They could be using social media a lot more than you. They could be hanging around with people who have a large following. They could have been on the scene a lot longer than you, there could be a thousand reasons. If you really want to go down that route Kim Kardashian has twice as many followers as Rihanna. And is she more beautiful or talented than RiRi?
Likes have no reflection on who you are as a person, your self-worth, your intelligence, your looks, your brilliance. We are living in a society that has glorified what ‘likes’ and ‘followings’ mean. Let’s not forget most of the things are liking are edited to magazine perfection. No longer are we comparing ourselves to glossy perfect women on a magazine cover. We are now comparing ourselves to an idealised version of what other people want to be… and we’re falling for it hook line and sinker from a place of indisputable insecurity.
I don’t even put up random photos of myself like I used to, people seem to prefer filters rather than pictures that show the truth. After taking what seems like a million shots I scroll through the photos to decipher which one is at least useable. My gallery using consists of photographs ranging from that classic rabbit caught in the headlight to the double chin of when you turn on your camera on and didn’t expect it to be on selfie mode.
I think there’s a misconception that its impossible to be successful unless you have masses of attention from the general public. I’m divided on this as on one hand I think the web is very powerful and a great leverage for your business to be ‘seen’. And on the other hand, I think if you have a passion for something you will give it your all and the following will naturally come to you. But then having said that I know many people who are invested in an excellent project can’t get it off the ground as their marketing skills suck.
So I personally think it’s a case of splitting the difference. Working on what you’re passionate about whilst at the same time engaging an audience you know your business deserves. And giving yourself the opportunity to meet people who have the power to help you take your ideas to the next level.
The most important thing is not to let the ‘likes’ affect your motivation or self-esteem. I know it’s difficult when it feels like the world is so obsessed. But even if you haven’t got a big following you can still live your dream and be successful; social media is not the gatekeepers of deciding who gets to live out their dream job and who doesn’t. Yes, it can help if you know how to use it safely.
‘If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same’.
– Rudyard Kipling
I don’t suggest you go live on a desert island and be satisfied with only self-love and coconuts to keep you going. We are social creatures and need people. One of the reasons we feel such shame when we are humiliated or ostracised is because it’s our old brain (instincts) fearing we will not survive without a ‘pack’ or a community. Check out this interesting article ‘Why people need people: The myth of solitude’ here. So maybe the ‘likes’ and validation we get from social media triggers something in us that’s akin to survival. To be ‘liked’ is to stay alive?
I’ve always thought of myself as a typical introvert, craving my own space and needing time away from people to refill my energy levels. Looking back I still need this, but the times I thought I was ok being on my own I was actually lonely and would have benefitted from being around people I cared about. Though I couldn’t understand this at the time because I was so cut off from my feelings and my needs.
Stop getting validation from a computer, you are much more than that. Obviously, it’s nice when someone pays you a compliment or likes your photo. But if you rely on this it’s not too dissimilar to a drug addict needing their next fix when the high wears off. Its addictive, short-lived and not real. Step away from the computer and engross yourself with people who love and support you, even if at first it feels like withdrawal.
The strongest thing you can do is go against the crowd. Pull yourself out of the fiery competition. Gently be ok with who you are. Know that you will get to where you want to be. All that energy you give out to others, invest in yourself. Most people go with the crowd and what’s ‘in’ at that moment. Don’t be a passing phase. Make a difference in the world. Because at the end of everything, you really only have yourself to answer to.