Another day at the office: Social media, that unhappy feeling
The most down-to-earth person would say: ‘Why do you care it’s only internet right?’ I personally think you can’t be more wrong. Social media is not ‘just internet’ anymore, it’s part of our lives and, maybe even more scary; part of our identity. In 2011, Maggie Gorse already illustrated that social networks are people’s “Virtual Bedrooms” on which you can see what people like, who they want to be with and who they are. In 2013 this applies even more with those smartphones that are practically an extension to us humans nowadays. I mean, people check their phones every 6.5 minutes! Those socials are really invading our lives, so no wonder we’re also going to be heavily influenced by them.
Thing is, people distinguish themselves on social media in all kinds of ways. With statusupdates and photo’s we show what cool stuff is happening in our lives. With our likes we show our interests, but it’s also a way to set ourselves apart from other people. With events we show where we’re going or where we want to be. We share what we think is interesting from other people’s pages, show what apps we’re using or how many miles we’ve been out running or cycling. This wouldn’t be a problem if people would actually share everything; the good and the bad, but most people only share the good things and brighten those things up even more. (I say ‘most’, because there’re also people sharing every dentist and doctor visit.)
Can you imagine how depressing it is to have dinner all by yourself at home, and than go on Facebook and see that some of your friends are eating sushi in some hipster restaurant to go clubbing afterwards? A little.
I also think we tend to measure our popularity on social media and get this unhappy feeling when you don’t seem to be as ‘popular’ as you think. A lot of people probably know that moment when they post something they think is either really awesome or terribly interesting and get a meager amount of likes or no retweets. Than someone else shares a picture of their toenails and boom! social media explodes and you’re left sulkily wondering why those people didn’t like your self made ‘piglets bathing in mud’ pie.
Besides the above mentioned points there’s something along the same lines that makes people unhappy after being on social media, and that’s FOMO. The Fear Of Missing Out. Online you see al those events people are attending, cool party’s, sports events, birthdays you name it. Sadly we’re not Harry Potter’s Hermione and own a ‘time turner, so we’re only able to attend one event at the same time. Which means missing the other 5 party’s we could’ve been. This stresses a lot of people out, because they don’t know what to choose and are afraid they’re missing the best party. Of which they see proof when going online afterwards. It’s a circle really.
Last but not least; we’re all little spies, the NSA would be happy to have us. Most of the time on social media is spent browsing through other people’s profiles. We try and find that new colleague on Facebook, check out someone’s new girlfriend, see if Harry from One Direction has a new one and the list goes on. It’s pretty harmless; until you find stuff you don’t want to know. Spying on boyfriends/girlfriends can make you insecure. (who’s that they’re talking to so much?) Finding out Harry has a new girlfriend can make you feel sad. You might know what I’m talking about here.
For the above mentioned reasons I think you can’t say social media is ‘just internet’ anymore, but I also think you shouldn’t take social media too seriously either. At the end of the day your real friends are with you on that event you really wanted to go to, while your online social circle exists mostly in your computer or phone. Those you can turn of, real connections (mostly) not.
Geertje Hermans, press & media at Black Hole Recordings