Validation is the monster in the closet, lying in wait to pounce on authenticity. And never more so than in this world of social media where self worth seems to be measured in the number of likes and followers and the quest for validation can now be taken to the world with a click of a few buttons. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of the benefits of social media and think it has permanently changed the way we keep in touch with those who don’t live in close proximity.
But like any tool, it needs to be used with boundaries. I learned this the hard way when I literally woke up on day with the notion that the daily posting of my Facebook status update started to feel like a competition. Up until then it was a fun thing to do. I am not sure what exactly brought on this realisation but I am sure that the posting of an update which elicited no likes or comments felt like a party no-one wanted to come to had something to do with it. Warning bells starting going off and it no longer felt right.
I think it stems from my days as a young parent when most of my peers were childless and were having the social times of their lives like most 30 year olds and I went home to routine and exhaustion. Then there was always the Monday morning dread about being asked what I did on the weekend and the only way to answer was to respond with a weak “well, not much, but I managed to survive on 4 hours sleep a night”. Crazy, but I have always felt pressure about that question as if my answer was not exciting enough the person I was talking to would lose interest or I could not fill the void that I felt was behind the question.
Then there was the fact that when talking in a group, I always felt the need to fight for air time. That feeling of having to muscle into the conversation and dominate it enough so that people felt you were serious about making a point was always there. My friends used to often joke ‘hang on, everybody it’s Judy’s turn.” A well-meaning jest, with a slightly cruel edge.
It must be that I have carried these thoughts into adulthood because even now I prefer having a one on one or one on two conversation. What’s slightly weird though is I have never really freaked out about presenting to a group. Happy to talk until the cows come home and present, probably because I don’t have to fight for attention and I’m confident with my stuff.
Whilst Facebook seemed like the perfect early vehicle for me with friends generally being attuned to what I was putting out there, I’ve had to step back from it a whole lot. When the likes and comments became the driver then things started to feel out of balance. Rationally, I know that likes and comments have NOTHING to do with self-worth and like a person missing you passing them in the corridor there are a whole lot of factors which go into someone not throwing a like or a comment your way which have NOTHING to do with you or the material.
I still use Facebook as a way of keeping in touch, but now I post a lot less often and use it differently. It is not so much a mirror to my life but an entertainment portal. I know there is a big difference between liking my material and liking me.
And I’ll admit to some embarrassment over my nutty thinking. As a result, this has not been an easy post to write. But it seems that once I got started about validation, this material just begged for release and it’s me in a post.
I’m grateful for these Facebook lessons because they have helped me immensely to deal with the world of blogging. I would never have gotten past the first 5 posts had it not been for that change in mindset and no longer having to seek validation or approval for my work.
I blog because it’s a fun and creative thing to do and it’s a great vehicle for learning about publishing on the Internet.
As for my weekend, it’s going to be a corker, for my next post will be my 200th.
Have you grappled with these same issues through your use of social media?
18 thoughts on “The V of Living Imperfectly: Venturing Out Without Social Validation #atozchallenge”
Great post, I too love social media….I’m happy enough in myself to get the best out of it and thick skinned enough to ignore haters. I use loads of different site but I can’t stand Facebook – the worst behaviour of society is displayed on there. I only stay on it because I run some business pages! 😉
Facebook was the first social media platform I used, but it’s fast becoming my least favourite for the reasons you mention and because finding the posts that I want to read is getting harder and harder amongst all the “noise”.
What a fantastic post – I felt validated by it. I could have written every word of it about myself. I particularly liked the ‘seek yourself, approval finds you’. I think I’m going to remember that! Thanks for the terrific message 🙂
Glad it resonated. I was a bit reluctant to write it at first, but it helped me understand some of my reactions.
I couldn’t agree more. I could say I had anticipated it – the interactive nature of social media is what prevented me from making an appearance there for some years. I preferred writing on my quaint, ancient websites that didn’t allow for any interaction – and I still do maintain those pages though it theoretically does not make any sense at all from “time-management” or “self-marketing” perspective.
Maybe having all of your eggs in different baskets makes sense. I really wonder what Facebook in 3-4 years time will look like.
I’m still not a big fan of Facebook. The whole concept is odd to me, and I feel like I can never catch up with people’s updates. I rarely post on my personal site and maybe only weekly on my public page. But I still check in daily. For now…
I now prefer Twitter because it more about the message than about the person as such. I was a relatively late adopter of Facebook, but still one of the earlier “oldies”. But the shine has worn off.
Judy, another gem. I was struck by two themes – the need for validation and the fighting for air time. As for the former, we all have this need to be recognized. We cannot help it. We can minimize it, but it is always there, like a darker side of ourselves. The fighting for air time interests me, as people want even their most inane opinion heard, when the thoughtful, measured speaker gets drowned out. I love my mother, but I have to tell her to give my kids space and let them answer her and others’ questions. They tend to pause before they speak and then someone jumps in and takes the conversation a different way. I told her once, mom I know you know the answer to the question, let them answer it. Thanks for the post, BTG
This made me chuckle, not because of the problem of jumping in but by the passion displayed by grandparents for their grandchildren. It’s done with the best of intentions, but not the best way to teach. I really get defeated by having to fight for airtime. Some people can suck the oxygen out of a room.
Most definitely agree. I have enjoyed your interwoven themes with the letters this month. Nicely done.
I think you spoke for many of us, and said it all very well. Blogging is a good medium for claiming our own airtime and works best if we’re not hung up on “follows” and “likes”. Genuine readers and true blogging friendships will come on their own if we are patient. We have to write for ourselves, or what’s the point?
Totally agree, Sammy. In fact when we reveal our true and inner selves in posts they always tend to illicit better and more meaningful responses so that blogging friendships can begin or continue.
Social media can be an enemy to people with low self-esteem. A lot of people do use Facebook as a competition, which is silly to me. I may have a small number of friends compared to those who have 1,000+ but that’s because I only accept the people I care for, such as my family and my close friends. I use Facebook to keep in touch, too, and I make it a mission to stay clear of all the drama.
Drama and Facebook is certainly not a good combination and it’s important to be discerning about who you friend on Facebook, particularly if you use it to post personal material. People with low self esteem also look to Facebook to lift it, which to me is the epitome of instant gratification and after the fact hollowness. The whole thing is fraught without the proper boundaries. Thanks for the great comment!
Yes, I have grappled … One day I just realized that I didn’t have to ‘like’ or ‘comment’ for every person… And I lost some respect for FB when they started to put things on my timeline themselves…I knew that privacy went out the window when I joined it or shortly thereafter but I really got overwhelmed with everything that others put up … So I decided for very limited use and now use basically to connect to family and close friends I don’t see too often… and play Scrabble with 4 of them. I read some of what is put up but don’t ‘like’ or ‘comment’ unless I really think it’s important.I don’t post much either… I would cancel it except for the reasons mentioned. There are a couple that I am friends with who I think get a big part of their self-worth from fb but I feel kind of sad for them and try to comment on some of what they put up. I feel there has to be a reason they feel that way…. Diane
I had a friend who deleted her Facebook account because she felt disconnected. I can see her point. Some ‘friends” went so far as to be incensed with her decision to delete and begged her to stay. It’s sad that convenience is the priority in this situation.
You’re on the mark, Judy. Social media is great as is everything else when used in moderation. Does that mean I now must moderate my coffee intake?
I never got too into FB because I didn’t have the time, but it has been a great source for finding people I’ve lost touch with and who have lost touch with me. Great reunions those.
You always chose great subjects for your posts. This is another one. 😉