The other day I had a moment of despair; it was the grim realisation that almost none of my friends bother to read the blog posts I spend so many hours writing and editing. For awhile I have been bugging them to read, to comment and to share; to support my dreams and help me grow. I posted status after status calling for help, but my friends didn’t respond. I’ll be honest here, the frustration and hurt left me sunk deep in a pit of apathy and self-loathing- if I couldn’t even get my friends to care about what I was writing, how on earth would anyone else ever be interested? I had thoughts of deleting social media, deactivating accounts and taking a break from writing. But of course I didn’t because like all of the writers I’ve ever admired, I decided to share the experience and write about it instead.
As much as it pains me to admit it, I use social media for validation. I think we all do, to an extent. It’s not that my ego is so inflated that it needs a daily massage, but more that I like to feel as if I matter; that there are still people out there who care about me and my life. If I write a status on Facebook asking people to read my writing and leave me a comment only to receive the deathly wall of silence, of course I’m going to feel bad. Because that doesn’t validate what I’m doing. A writer with no audience is pretty pointless after all.
The thing is, when we were children, friendships were easy to navigate. A friend was a person you’d play tag with at lunchtime; the person whose house you’d visit after school. You felt secure in your friendships and how awesome you were as a friend because there weren’t any awkward social media politics to navigate. There was no feeling rejected because your friend didn’t share your blog post or like your latest selfie. It was simple. But that was then and this is now.
Now we have Instagram. And if we upload a selfie that doesn’t receive a certain amount of likes we feel ugly. We question why this flattering picture we took of ourselves is of no interest to anyone else. We look at our friends selfies with hundreds of likes, we compare ourselves and we fall short. Maybe no one is liking our snap because we’re ugly?
And now we have Twitter. We’re making funny quips about Love Island but getting just a couple of retweets. Maybe no one is retweeting us because actually, we aren’t that funny after all.
And don’t get me started on Facebook. The one social media platform where our ‘friends’ are actually supposed to be our friends and not just a bunch of random strangers we’ve collected on our journey through the internet, and still we aren’t getting the engagement we would like.
The thing is, we wouldn’t post statuses, write tweets or upload selfies if we were not looking for something. And that something is validation. It’s why we share a huge portion of our lives online for a bunch of strangers to see. We want others to tell us we are pretty, that our dinner looks delicious, that our cat is cute, that our relationships are “goals”. If we didn’t want that, we wouldn’t really bother, would we?
And to be perfectly honest, although it’s a little bit sad seeking validation from strangers over the internet, you can kind of see why it’s important for us to feel like we matter to our friends. At least I think so, anyway.
It can be really hurtful to feel rejected, especially by a friend, but the thing to remember is, likes on a picture or a comment on a status (or a lack of) aren’t a reflection on you as a person. How other people respond to the things you choose to share does not define who you are, or your worth. Keep doing you, you’re fabulous and you owe it to yourself.