Friday, August 8, 2014

You're Doing It Right: Throwing Social Media Rules Out the Window


I remember the first time I saw an article about all the annoying ways that people use Facebook.  It was published on one of the magazine sites for young women that I look up to (I'm not sure if it was HelloGiggles or xoJane) and written in a sharp, witty style that I appreciate.  Everything about it was great except it was snotty as hell and it gave me this sinking feeling while I read it.  There were lots of specifics about the things you should NEVER do (share ultrasound pictures, share food pictures, be political, be offensive) and more things that you should do sparingly (thank your significant other for...anything, complain about your life, brag about your life, tag anyone...ever).  Basically, the article stated, you should be using Facebook for the occasional hilarious deadpan comment and INFREQUENT pictures of your life, as long as they are visually pleasing without being too much.

Oh my god, my face was burning when I set down my phone.  I do all of those things.  Every single one of them.  I'm a millennial and I'm supposed to be getting this RIGHT and the article informed me that I was being stupid, trashy, loud, inappropriate, and idiotic on social media, which of course means I'm doing that in real life.  There was lots of hate for selfies, too, so I knew that I was vain and brash and probably ugly and insecure, which is the only reason why someone would need to take a picture of themselves looking good, anyway.

Soon after, I began seeking out social media rules.  I noticed how often "real bloggers" were posting content vs. how much "regular" people put up pictures on Instagram.  I read a sound bite (it might have even been a tweet) from someone twenty-something and cool stating that no one should post to Twitter more than 4 times a day, and that number became a law in my impressionable brain.  I would "over post" on some days and then feel bad for spamming my followers with too many pictures of my life.  I would deeply analyze everything I wanted to post on Facebook and think about how different people would react.  I saw a lot more articles with titles like "10 Facebook Statuses That Need to Stop" and parodies of Instagram use and Twitter obsession.  I felt that using and enjoying social media was embarrassing, and I didn't want to quit, so I was stuck in this circle of feeling shame and insecurity over something that made me genuinely happy.

It was during a scan of yet another social-media bashing article that I started to think maybe I wasn't in the wrong.  For one thing, I actually LIKE seeing people's food and hearing about the ups and downs of their day.  I love when people do those daily thankfulness updates or list their blessings. Photo-a-day challenges on Instagram are like a cool reverse scavenger hunt.  And while half the articles/political rants on the internet bother me, the other half are truly interesting.  Sometimes, I learn shit. So while I was trying really hard not to break these rules, I was hoping that everyone else would keep breaking them, because I liked all that jumble and mess.  More importantly, I understood that it wasn't all directed at me.  I enjoyed combing through to find the good stuff.  The internet is not custom suited to my exact style; to expect that would be ridiculous.

The thing about social media is it belongs to everyone.  Grandmas are live-tweeting the Oscars, your pastor is posting memes to Facebook, and every 14-year-old has given up all the stuff I even understand for new, cool things that will be deader than dead by the time I sign up for an account.  By this logic, there should be as many different styles of  using social media as there are ways to be a person.  In real life, some people will all but hide the fact that they're having surgery and some people will be updating you from the operating table.  Neither person is wrong.  In real life, some people will show you 100 pictures of their cats/living room remodel/new car, while others leave you guessing if they have a family at home.  Neither person is wrong.  Some people are content to sit and observe the party happening around them, some people need to be making conversation, and some people want to stay home altogether.  Everyone is right, and all those perspectives are needed.

If something bothers you on social media, check in with yourself and figure out why.  If a Facebook session makes you feel icky, is it because certain people put you off?  You can hide their business from your news feed without actively unfriending them.  They'll never know.  Do it.  On Instagram and Twitter, it's harder to unfollow someone without them finding out, but notice how on Facebook it's called a friend and everywhere else, it's called a follower?  It's a little less personal to whittle down your feed in other social media platforms, so get rid of the people who annoy you or make you feel jealous or spew political views that turn your stomach.  Be your own lady.  Do what you want.

In the end, the only thing that matters is whether you're using social media in a way that makes you feel good  (and I know none of you lovelies feel good when you're bullying or trashing other people online, so I won't even go there).  Rid your social media platforms of all accounts that don't build you up, and feel free to post whatever you want to, knowing that if anyone has the slightest issue with anything you put into the world, they are free to stop looking.  Whether you use social media in tiny doses or give your followers a blow-by-blow of your entire day, if it feels right and you're enjoying yourself, you're golden.  So take the selfie, post the picture of your lunch, or share your true feelings about the latest Marvel movie.  All parts of your life (technology included) are part of the canvas you're given to show off who you are.  Be you.

What is you social media preference?  Are you a big sharer or do you watch from the wings?  Do you understand Snapchat, because I'm confused.

image credit here, text added by me

6 comments:

  1. Holy smokes, what an interesting post! I love how you mention to try not to follow "rules" on social media sites. It seems like there ARE so many unspoken ( and loudly spoken ) rules that we are supposed to follow and I feel this way as a blogger as well!! I do find myself feeling unsure sometimes before I post something on instagram or my blog, I think sometimes I'm so worried about which category I'm placing myself in! Which is, ridiculous and a little bit childish. I hope that I can learn to "be my own lady" a little bit more! I think the one thing that I have trouble "judging" is Facebook. I do get really irritated because I feel like our culture has this thing about us where we feel so good about ourselves for just saying or posting a belief and it frustrates me. I have people on my Facebook who are constantly posting articles about WHY this is wrong and why that is wrong and they never stop to think of the negative implications it has. What I like about your essay here is that it is showing me that I need to rise about that and find a way to cut it out of my life. Sometimes I allow things to bother me so much and it really affects my heart! Not sure that this will be an easy fix for me, but thanks for bringing this to light for me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad it resonated with you! It's a REAL struggle, and Facebook is where I find it the hardest to figure out how I feel. I love connecting with my family and my friends and often find it interesting to see how other people are going about their lives, but it's also where I feel the most anger/offense. I recently had to hide a bunch of people (some of whom I love) from my news feed just to stop getting mad about differences of opinion or, in some cases, outright ignorance. Facebook is fertile ground for people to be hurtful. I also had to weed out some people who didn't need to be my "friends" anymore, because I couldn't handle it. It's tricky and weird, like most things that come from being a person in the world :)

      I completely feel you about letting it bother you- I was often HURTING from what I saw other people post before I went on my hiding spree. I hope you find some peace and trust your beautiful instinct! Thanks for a great comment.

      Delete
  2. Wise words, lady! Learning to love people of various styles online is very similar to doing it in real life... We are all unique with funky styles that make us happy! Lets enjoy the diversity! I personally rarely follow social "rules" for their own sake in real life... Why the heck worry about it online! I love pics of food, lots of kid pictures, and numerous life updates. I like to pray for people as their life challenges come across my feed. I like to learn from others and their interesting lives! I have friends who post relentless cute animal pictures, a friend who's world is collapsing every darn day and she feels like no one loves her despite the friends who immediately reassure her otherwise in their comments, and someone who is so stinking healthy and optimistic that sometimes I even want to gag... But I respect and love them all. The animal lover has a sweet heart, the Debbie Downer donates much of her time to advocating for abused animals, and the perfectly thankful person reminds me to look on the bright side when I'm tempted to grump through the day. And personally, by putting my daily cares and laughs out there, I find a kind of release... Like someone out there is walking this road alongside me, even if miles away via Internet connections. I've talked about it, so now I can move on. Then I read on down the newsfeed to see everyone else's daily thoughts, and gosh, I always learn something new or gain a diversified perspective! Therapy! Anyhow, love the post! Well said, lady!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree SO much about the release- putting it in the world and interacting with you and others is what gets me through on MANY days! We're hundreds of miles apart and still walking next to each other. I love how you can pinpoint EXACTLY what I'm talking about with examples in your news feed, and I love how much you love them all :) The internet truly is real life. I'm so glad you share with me on Facebook and here!

      Delete
  3. I tried writing a thoughtful comment and then I had to delete it cause it was ranting and raving.

    But yeah. Social media. Polarizing! But be your own you. And if you don't like "me" then peace out. I don't need a certain number of followers to justify my life, and I hope you (generic "you" not "you" Ashlie) don't either, because if I dont' like what you're doing, then I'm pretty quick to unfollow.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dang. Thank you. I have been way weird about IG lately...feeling like I post too much...watching my follower numbers...for no reason at all but just to make me feel bad about myself. I needed this. Thank you!!!!!

    ReplyDelete