We’ve all seen the pros and cons of social media. The connections that are made with long ago friends, the relationships that bloom, or re-bloom…sometimes it’s good, sometimes, not so good.
I have found a dark side to social media. It’s not spoken of often, I can only think because of the “shame” involved with it. I was talking with the wife about it the other day…the dreaded Social Media Jealousy. It seems to strike at adults more than children. I think because child-drama centers around crushes, prom and what type Sperry’s you wear…at least that’s my household.
No SMJ strikes at adults, who seem to get a lot more put out than kids over slights, either real or imagined. We tend to view Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, et al, as a measuring tool of success. Ours and our friends. And 90% of the time, it’s all self-created drama. Seriously, some folks take this waaayy too seriously.
We only THOUGHT we got away from cliques after high school. In fact, after high school, I walked smooth away from anything and everyone I knew in school. See, school was brutal for me. I wasn’t popular, I wasn’t pretty…I was awkward and introverted. I have wonderful memories of my high school years, wrapped up in people that I still keep up with on Facebook. Or Instagram. Or Twitter. Yet, of these people, there are even fewer that I keep up with in person. It’s not because I don’t care, it’s because we all got busy. There isn’t any malice, we just got busy.
Yes folks, remember that…before social media, we had to make an effort to maintain that connection. And sometimes we did, and those relationships flourished. Other times, we slacked off…waited for another day, then that day passed, and it got easier to just go on with our lives because the other person didn’t make the effort either. Voila…drift happens.
With the invent of MySpace and it’s contest of who your top friend was, came the SMJ. If you weren’t your friends “Top” friend, you simply taught them a lesson and moved them down on your list….ha! That’ll teach them!!! Most times, they didn’t even realize they had done anything wrong. I mean, they did make their child their top friend…how dare they?!?!?
Along came Facebook; no more ranking of friends or where you fall in the “Top Ten” but now there are “likes”. It’s almost too much pressure. You post a status or a photo…you HOPE you get a like or two. You are on top of the world if you get 10 or 20….you are floored at 50 or even 100!!!
You have been known to stress over the smallest thing…a misspelled word, a shadow on a photo. In fact, we no longer take photos just to enjoy, these smart phones allow us to take picture after picture after picture to make sure you get the right angle, that you don’t see a wrinkle, a double chin, a fat roll. But don’t worry, if you don’t catch it…one of your “friends” will point it out to you. Sometimes in good-natured humor, sometimes, it’s ugly. And hurtful. This can lead to being deleted or even worse…BLOCKED!!!!
Don’t think there aren’t cliques on social media. Oh….there totally are…the same cliques that were in school…I can look and see that the popular crowd is still the popular crowd. Or the nerds (my peeps!) have packed together, making odd references to obscure TV shows or cult movies. Or the folks who just monitor and watch, never posting just reading and looking at everyone’s status’ and photos.
I don’t know what causes the jealousy or hurt. I do know that people have taken sides in situations they know nothing about. They offer opinion or advice on things they aren’t involved in or know about. They share their insights on your life with others, without consequence or a second thought. Social media has the ability to turn us all into judgmental jerks.
Social media has made us lazy, ill-mannered, cynical and jealous.
We don’t make time to visit anymore. Why should we? We can just peruse their lives on their social media sight. Right? We don’t have to listen to their stories of Junior’s football game or Suzy’s date last night. We don’t have to make the time to spend face to face, seeing their reactions, their smiles or tears. We can post a comment on their status as an offer of condolence or congratulations. Virtual posts of sincerity in a world that teeters on a line between good manners and reality shows. Pokes have taken the place of a good ol’ fashioned hug.
We don’t always feel joy when someone posts a vacation photo or photo of their engagement ring. No, we aren’t happy to see our friends spend time with people other than us. We often are jealous that we weren’t invited on the trip, or we are jealous because their diamond is bigger than ours, or why wouldn’t they invite us to dinner. We don’t always truly wish the best for others, we keep up with them because we want to compete. Human nature at it’s finest.
And let’s be honest, we all have “those” friends, you know the ones you keep on Facebook, to watch them roll around in their misery. They can’t help themselves, and we can’t help feeling superior to them. We don’t reach out to assist or give a word of encouragement, we just sit and watch. And these same people, will put everything out there, when they shouldn’t. And we think “they are just screaming for attention!” sometimes they are, sometimes they just need that outlet. We should never be the ones to judge their circumstance. Or be the ones who peek and sit back. Sometimes, instead of feeling superior in our awesome lives, we need to reach out, give the a hand or a word of support. It may be the one thing that makes a difference.
I am just as much to blame in my own world. I was telling my wife the other night, we let 25-year-old friendships turn into Facebook friendships. We all have. And I have found in the end, it’s turned me bitter in my own mind where I have made bigger deals out of things than I should have. I have had imaginary slights that have taken on a life of their own and I no longer speak to people who I considered my friends. I’m not proud of this behavior. I haven’t deleted them or anything like that…I don’t follow them, but they remain on my Facebook, I can go peek in on their world when I want to. The same way they do me. Many won’t admit it. I am sure that many think “oh, that’s not me!!! I would never do such a thing!” Okay, then go look…see how many of the people in your social media platforms you actually interact with.
I sometimes forget that others have lives too. That not everyone is sitting around, waiting to entertain me. And as such, I should afford them the consideration that I want from them.
This IS a double-edged sword.
Social media has also shown me the ugly side to people that I hadn’t seen before. I have seen others use social platforms to remind everyone else how great their lives are in comparison to others. I have seen “friends” rub good fortune, their “excellence”, their wonderful things in others faces. Some might not realize they do this, others do so on purpose. Using social media as a “don’t you wish you were me?” platform.
Here’s the rub: no, I don’t. I feel sorry for you. You are so insecure in your life that you need the validation of a “like” or a comment. You don’t think your great life is so great. And you should. You should be proud enough of yourself to not lord it over everyone else. Here’s a hint. This only makes you look like a complete tool.
I have let friendships fall away. I have found that as an adult, I will hang on to stuff way longer than I should. I preach love and acceptance and open-mindedness. I have to remember that I don’t walk in everyone else’s shoes. And they don’t walk in mine. I’m not always proud of my thoughts and actions. No matter how proud others may be of theirs.
Here’s the thing, I have a good life. I have lived charmed and blessed life and I don’t take it for granted. I have good friends that I treasure and adore, I have a family that I would walk through fire for and I have my health. I don’t need much more than that.
I got a wake up call this week when some friends got hurt by my inaction. The wife and I’s inaction and assumptions. We assumed that we weren’t needed or wanted. That we had been “edged” out of their lives. So we went about our lives. Hurt and upset that the friendship that we treasured was a one way street. Only to find that they assumed the same thing about us. That we had edged them out and they were just as hurt and confused as we were. In the end, I realized that whether the other person makes the effort or not, I have to. And I realized how much I had missed my friend…my LP. And shame on me for letting this happen. That I hurt someone by just not doing anything, by my thinking my life was more important, by my jealousy that I had been replaced…I could have lost a dear friend. Who missed me as much as I missed them. Shame.on.me.
We have other friends that we let go. Not because of anything they did or didn’t do to us. Maybe we are jealous of their lifestyle. Maybe they are jealous of our bliss. Maybe I’m wrong all the way around. I know that I don’t like the actions of some, I have gotten roped into what feels like a one-sided war and I chose my side. I have to live with that and I’m okay with it. I think there are issues because of social media and the lack of communication all the way around, I don’t think I care.
Not all friendships will survive social media. Like I said, it shows you the dark side of some folks. And yes, I may have stopped talking to someone over my perceived hurt…but when the other side doesn’t step up to the plate to fix it, to make the effort, then there’s no need to chase that friendship. Social media will show you someone’s true colors. Their insecurities and their faults. You just have to care and pay attention.
In the end, these two friendships, one I treasure and I will remember to value. One, I am still not sure of…in the end, I can’t be the only one putting in the hard work. Friendship is more than a like on Facebook or Instagram. Friendship is more than a quippy comment or one liner. It’s more effort than that. One, will meet me half way, and will smile, knowing that as I type this sentence, this friendship is putting a smile on my face. One, will not even realize that it’s them I am thinking of as I type this sentence. One will embrace the years and history of the friendship between the four of us, one will not realize that the years have slipped passed them and it may be too late. Because this is the good side of social media and the bad side of social media. All in one paragraph.
Jealousy isn’t always a bad thing. Jealousy pushes us to be better than the next guy. Pushes us to not settle for being just what we are…
It’s only a bad thing when we let it take over, when we let it win.