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?