In full disclosure, there are certain things that I see on my Facebook newsfeed that compel me to roll my eyes. Maybe it’s an angry political message, or maybe it’s a long flowery post by someone who uses Facebook as her personal diary. #SoBlessed!
Most of the time, this reaction never goes beyond a split-second eyeroll. Every once in a blue moon, there’s a post that requires a screenshot text message to a friend, but not often. And I can count on one hand the amount of times someone else’s Facebook post sent me into a rage spiral. Actually, I can’t, because that number equals zero.
Perhaps I’m in the minority though, as it seems like people can get awfully worked up about the Facebook statuses of others. I constantly see articles being shared that tell us which status updates are annoying, things we should avoid doing on Facebook, and generally shame us for behaving a certain way on social media. Without even mentioning the irony of people sharing said articles on Facebook, it’s hard not to wonder – what’s with all the negative energy?
These types of articles seem to address similar complaints – some people post “too many” selfies, others abuse their hashtagging privileges. It’s apparently really too much to bear when people “humble brag” or gush about their significant other. Angry rants supposedly have no place on social media, nor do passive aggressive one-liners. Blah blah blah – we’ve heard all of this before.
The question is – why do we care so much? Seriously, what is it about someone else’s Facebook status that warrants such angst? It’s perfectly normal to have a reaction to something you read, and perhaps that reaction is to be momentarily irritated, but is there truly any justification for leaping from an eyeroll to a condescending lecture on what we “should” and “should not” do with our personal social media accounts?
These patronizing lists are quickly circulated and shared because they appeal to the Regina George that lurks inside all of us. Sometimes it’s easiest to bond with others through hatred and snark – it’s the same as it was in high school. Even if we weren’t proud of it, we all were guilty at least once of partaking in catty behavior just to feel included – simply to have some common ground.
So, we read these lists and think, “Oh my god uggghhh I hate it when so and so posts their stupid #SelfieSunday pictures! She’s just so desperate for attention!” We click “like” and “share” and we feel some kind of moral superiority in doing so. We feel that we are somehow better than others for knowing the “right” way to use hashtags and because we aren’t obsessively posting pictures of babies. But are we really better?
At the end of the day, the purpose of social media is entirely subjective. Some people use their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts as a means of keeping in touch with friends and family. In this case, it’s perfectly logical to post lots of photos of babies, pets, and vacation selfies. Other people view social media as a professional tool, or a place to network. Neither perspective is right nor wrong – it’s just a matter of personal preference.
Similarly, our social media accounts are a reflection – or extension – of our individual personalities. In this tech-centric age, some of us have had a digital footprint since adolescence – or earlier. All of our friendships, relationships, and journeys are catalogued through our use of online networks. Our pasts and presents are charted through 140-character updates, images cropped into squares, electronic friendships and connections. It’s a sign of the times in which we live.
Ultimately, no one – truly no one – has the authority to comment on the “correct” way to navigate this socially connected world. It is a world that is constantly changing – a world that we are all figuring out as we go. Instead of channeling all that disdain towards someone else’s Throwback Thursday post, perhaps we should look inward and try to discern the reason why it bothers us so much. Perhaps we should find a more positive outlet for our thoughts and emotions.
Simply put – perhaps we should stop exhausting so much negative energy on others and focus on ourselves.