Social media has made it really easy to share our opinions about anything, and many people do. However, that’s not necessarily healthy. An article I recently read gave 6 things to consider before posting to social media. Here is the first point from that article, along with my thoughts on it.
#1 - Am I struggling with validation and approval?
Many of us struggle with a need for validation and approval. Social media seems to have made this worse. A great many people have begun to hang their self-worth on how people respond to their social media presence. Somehow we’ve come to value the thoughts and admiration of complete strangers or casual acquaintances more than that of the people who are with us, know us, and care about us.
This can lead us to post stuff on social media with the hope of garnering kind words, a large number of likes, or other types of encouragement. This may come in the form of an ever so slightly provocative picture, or bragging about reaching a weight loss goal. It could be sharing a picture of your new car or sharing something funny. It could be sharing a strong opinion about a political or social issue, or even sharing cute pictures of kittens.
Many of these things may not be inherently bad. However, if they are done in an attempt to garner praise or for a sense of validation or approval then it can be quite harmful.
What happens if you’re not validated?
What happens if your post doesn’t bring the response you hoped for? If your self-worth is hanging on this, then it can take a major hit. Sadly, for many people, if a post doesn’t get them the likes, or encouraging comments that they hope for it can have the opposite effect of what they had hoped for. Instead of building them up, or making you feel better about yourself, you may walk away feeling even worse than before.
What happens if you ARE validate?
Perhaps as dangerous is the possibility that you WILL receive the validation and approval you are hoping for. You walk away feeling quite good about yourself. This is a good thing, right? Maybe, but probably not. You see the validation that social media has to offer is shallow, short-lived, and fickle. The encouragement you feel soon fades. The encouragement of someone who knows and cares about you can literally last a lifetime, but the encouragement from a group of random strangers and acquaintances quickly dies.
Social media validation is like a drug. It feels good… but only for a short time. Seeing dozens, hundreds or thousands of people like your post can really be quite a high. Reading positive comments feels good. Sadly, this wears off. Then, just like a drug, you find you need more. You can find yourself posting more in hopes of getting this high. When the same old posts no longer bring you the high you hope for you may find your posts becoming more and more extreme. You may even find yourself unable to be satisfied with the validation or approval offered through social media.
What should you do, instead?
First, understand that social media, for all the good it can do, should never be a source of validation or approval. If you are struggling with this, seek out people who actually know you and care about you. Talk to them. Let your validation and approval come from these people. It will mean much more and will last much longer.
Second, consider if the thing you are about to post, or the comment you are about leave is coming from this desire for validation and approval. If so, consider skipping it. The world will keep spinning without that post, and you would be much better off spending some time with a friend or family member, or maybe calling them.
Ultimately, take time to think about the things you post and the motivation behind it. If the motivation is not healthy, don’t do the post.
Check back next week for