#socialmediafails

relationship status update.

facebook-relationship1

So, there’s something which has been on my mind for a few months that I’ve been wanting to share with you all.

In all honesty, I’m not really sure where to start. It began so many years ago and I was entirely unaware of it growing that when it fully blossomed it took me completely by surprise. What began out as mild disgust has since developed into a passionate pledge of sorts.

I never thought I would be this person, but here I am, ready to make it known to the world.

Here goes nothing. Inhale, Alex. Inhale. Exhale.  (more…)

Advertisements

#socialmediafails: Like me! Follow me! (Love me.)

Awkward social media realisations and what motivates me to write.

ImageWhat is more fictitious, rainbow-coloured unicorns or what I post on social media?

“Comparison is the thief of joy”
– Theodore Roosevelt.

Last year I read an article which fundamentally shifted my perspective of my twenty-something life. The article, entitled “Why Generation Y Yuppies are Unhappy”, struck so many chords in me that I still have the tab open in my phone web browser. The article explains the relationship between the discontentment many Gen Ys feel and our use of social media.

Can I highly recommend that you go and read it? I can? Good. If you have not read it please, PLEASE STOP READING THIS and go there RIGHT NOW! Come back to this tomorrow. Just go. Go!! Yes, it is quite long, but yes, it is that good. Have you gone yet? There are unicorns spewing rainbows. Now have I convinced you? Good. Finally.

After having read the Wait But Why* article everything suddenly made so much more sense. The comparative inadequacy I felt, which I had let social media fuel, was able to be rationalised down to a competition where, unbeknownst to me, everyone else is cheating just as much as I am. (For anyone who spews rainbows must be a master of illusions.) I found this clarity and the realisation that no one actually has their sh!t together really quite comforting.

Since having these mini unicorn-illustrated revelations you would think that I would try and do my little bit to stop this really awful, toxic cycle, right? Right. Wrong. 

Despite gaining this new perspective I have not demonstrated the maturity or security in myself to stop posting self-promoting status updates, tweets and photos. Posting on social media to (strategically) garner as many likes and follows as possible is Just. So. Addictive.

I’m guilty of it. I still am. It can range from the successful (“I got a full scholarship! I got a new job!”) to the vain (“Oh, did I just accidentally post a selfie? #notthataccidental”) to the envy-eliciting (“Casual check-in at a 5 star restaurant, darlings!”).

I am completely guilty of this. Yet, why do I still do this? Because it feeds my ego.

It makes me feel special.
It makes me feel important.
It makes me feel valued.
It makes me feel loved.
(And if that’s not f-ed up, then I don’t know what is.)

Is posting really inane, “real” details about our lives the solution? It’s a nice thought, but I don’t think so as that could be:
a) just as attention-seeking as the aforementioned types of posts. I’m sure you’ve encountered them, too – the vague, wallowing, woe-sharing without any explanation (think “Life is the worst!”) which often receive an outpouring of social media sympathy and “care”. (Perhaps that’s part of the issue – maybe we have conditioned ourselves to feel better by sharing our negative experiences on social media. Are we really that disconnected in real life?? If so, then that’s depressing.)
b) bloody boring (Posts of the “I just popped a really big pimple” variety. Too much reality. We do not need that much detail, thanks.)

Who the hell are we kidding? We all know rationally that real life does not have a vintage filter which enhances the colour of our days. Life can be wonderful, but life can be shit. This is nothing new. So, how come we are all buying into this big con, when we probably know that what we see on social media is only a fraction of someone else’s life – and it’s a fabricated fraction at that?

Perhaps the way to counter this isn’t by changing how and what we post, but by weaning ourselves off it altogether. Perhaps it’s time to migrate away from this behemoth that we incessantly feed. Perhaps it’s time to de-friend the fake friend that is social media.

(I mean, how has “de-friend” been allowed to become part of our vernacular?)

****

Personally, I’ve been challenged by my relationship with social media through this blog.

“How?” you inquisitively inquire?

Well, over time it has become apparent that certain types of posts garner more likes, follows and hits than others, which makes it tempting to only write pieces of that ilk. From working in marketing I also know that ensuring that there is new content posted on a regular basis is beneficial for organic search engine optimisation (which we marketing folk call “SEO” – sorry for the jargon) where, basically, you’re aiming to be the first result in a Google search of certain terms which are relevant to your business/website/blog. You can aid your SEO by using key terms relevant to the searches you want to appear in throughout your site and by adding new content on a regular basis.

So, I’ve gotten into the habit of coordinating my posts on certain days of the week not only for SEO, but to correspond with when I know I’ll get the most traffic. An example? I do not post on Saturday night because:
a) most people are engaged in other activities on Saturday night and thus are less likely to see that I have posted something new and
b) it has become Very Important to pretend that you are having an Awesome Time doing something Awesome on Saturday night (even if you’re at home studying or sitting on Facebook when you’re meant to be studying). No one wants to commit social (media) suicide. Duh. 

But here’s the thing, I enjoy writing most when it is done out of a creative and emotional impulse. I need to express myself and it needs to happen now! And that means writing about things which are more or less sexy, controversial and happy-go-lucky than that which constitutes a popular post. Recently, I’ve been making myself post a new piece on certain nights each week which I fear is shifting my writing away from “impulse and expression” to “obligation”. The latter of which is the antithesis of what I want for this to be, because doing so would change the nature of this blog entirely.

See, I do not write for you; I write for us.

The “us” is imperative.

This blog would not be what it is if I didn’t write, firstly, for myself. See, if I was only writing to satisfy an external audience then I would find it less meaningful and fulfilling and the end product would reflect my being less emotionally invested in it.

Of course I write knowing that I have an audience and I greatly appreciate your readership, you gorgeous little bandicoots. It fills me with immense pleasure when you share that you have enjoyed reading a post or that it touched you. I love that. That really makes me so glad and it makes me feel pretty honoured, too. It is also, more often that not, comforting to hear that I am not the only one who is absolutely failing at life on a regular basis.

But of course not everyone likes this blog. And that’s perfectly ok – I am all for everyone having their own opinion. Furthermore, I am not under the illusion that this blog would appeal to everyone.

I have friends whom I respect and admire who have indicated that they do not like reading this blog. I let their unintentionally-hurtful, throwaway comments sting. Comments like, “I have another friend who has a blog. He’s a fantastic writer”. (I get what you’re implying. Cheers!) Look, I know they don’t approve of my sometimes less than G-rated vocabulary, content and cynicism. But that’s ok. I am not, after all, forcing them to read or specifically aiming to appeal to them.

But that isn’t going to stop me from writing.

I am not, after all, writing for any accolades or record-breaking number of website hits. I am not writing because I have to. I am not writing thinking that I am changing the world. I am not writing to please everyone. I am not writing to cast judgement on others (and if I do – please pull me up on it). I am not writing to perpetuate the life that I portray on Instagram.

I am writing because I find it therapeutic. I am writing because it allows me to unravel my thoughts and to learn from my experiences. I am writing because I love it.

And for the moment that is enough.

Alex x

* A name so desperately lacking in punctuation that it hurts my eyes. (Would it be so hard to add a comma and question mark?)

#socialmediafails: part two

Facebook “friends” and friends on Facebook.

ImageI think Ed and I could be friends.

Sometimes the strangest things happen on buses. Whether that be entire wardrobe changes, the disintegration of relationships played out in front of 60 relative strangers or procreation*, Sydney’s public transport certainly doesn’t disappoint when it comes to… colourful moments.

I had another one of those moments recently – except everyone remained fully clothed and no one shouted at their relatives. Yeah, a little less sexy and scandalous.

I was on my way to uni (truly groundbreaking stuff). As I walked up the back of the bus I spotted a girl whom I’m Facebook friends with sitting just in front of the seat I had my sights on.

Insert the part where we may eye-contact and say hi to each other and briefly catch up.  Insert the part where we don’t make eye-contact and don’t say hi to each other – even though we are now sitting 40cm away from each other.

Sorry. Let’s pause and recap. My “friend” is sitting in the seat in front of me and I am not going to say hi to her. Huh?

Just quietly, WHY THE HELL ARE WE EVEN FACEBOOK FRIENDS?!

Calm down, Alex. 

See, you could be deceived into thinking that we are actually friends. I mean, I know what she is studying, whom our mutual friends are, whom her family members are, whom her boyfriend is, what her boyfriend’s job is, her favourite authors and her pet’s name – all courtesy of our Facebook “friendship”. Well, except for the fact that we’re “friends” who have barely ever had a conversation with each other. But conversation is so passé, darling.

I’m still unsure whether I didn’t say hi because of the social conformity and norms which dictate that we don’t speak to people in certain settings or because the word “friend” has been diluted and no longer carries the value it once had. Either way, I have no idea how this girl and I even became to be Facebook friends in the first place.

****
Since then I ended up hanging out with another vague “friend” of sorts. Yep, another one. She’s a lovely person, but we’ve spent very little time together over the ten years that we’ve known each other. Anyway, we’ve kept abreast of what’s happening in each others’ lives by reading one another’s blogs, Insta-stalking travel photos and having the odd two minute catch up whenever we bump into each other, which counts for something. Right?

Ahhh. Hmm. Perhaps not, Alex.

See, spending some time with her the other week allowed us to go past the superficial “how-are-you-what-are-you-up-to-at-the-moment-oh-that’s-nice-bye!” And it was a pleasure to have done so, because I learnt so much more about her and her life that I could have ever done by Facebook-stalking her. We talked about the future, family dynamics, AFL-honed muscles and unexpectedly enchanting cities.I think social media only allows us glimpses into each others lives, and we orchestrate the glimpses we let others see – myself very much included.

I was reminded of this when I was catching up with a friend over coffee. (An actual friend this time.) Look, it was nice, but I was acutely aware of the fact that the main way in which we’ve kept abreast of each others’ lives recently has been by liking one another’s Instagram photos, Facebook posts and LinkedIn updates. We’ve been friends for years, but honestly, I think that our social media friendship has been a contributing factor to the deterioration of our (actual) relationship. We ask each other about things which we’ve seen the other post about – no longer bothering to feign surprise after waiting for them to bring it up themselves.

It makes catching up somewhat redundant, doesn’t it?

So, with that in mind, I’m trying my best to not write various status updates about my life at the moment. Yes, I think that the Likes would be well into the double digits and gosh, I’d feel sooo totes loved and #blessed. But who am I kidding? My Facebook friends are all nice people, but I’m only close friends with a solid 4% of them and I want to share my news with this 4% in person because they are the people who really matter to me. They’ll be genuinely happy for me because they’ll understand the significance of the things I’m sharing with them.

I guess that’s why I didn’t say hi to that girl on the bus. She’s just a “friend” and not a friend. And those speech marks, small as they are, seem to make a difference.

Alex x

 

* I wish I could say that I hadn’t witnessed that last one in particular, but I kid you not – I did. #stillmildlytraumatised

#socialmediafails: part one

Realising that I’ve let social media warp simple things like saying “please” and “thank you”.

Image

I’m going to take what I think is a fairly safe bet and guess that you, my darling reader, are pretty good with that whole social media thing. Right? And thus, I’m going to assume that you know a fair bit about social media and its continual impact upon communication and so many other related spheres of our 21st century lives. Blah blah blah. For the love of peanuts, tell me something new!

Well, despite having read plenty of articles on the subject and having spent many hours doing utterly arduous first-hand research in the field, there have still been times when I’ve been surprised by just how much social media had affected my relationships.

An example?

Well, I can think back to a time during the age of social media when I went out of my way to make my friend’s day. Good lord, I busted a gut. I spent quite a bit of cash. Hours were spent planning it. There were tears just getting my arse there. And I’m glad to say that I think I made her pretty happy.

And do you know what I wanted (and expected) in return? A social media shout out. Yes, that’s right: I wanted her to thank me publicly by posting a photo, tweeting or writing an update about what I’d done – which is f-ed up on so many levels that it is giving me mild brain damage. How the hell did I get to the stage where I not only wanted, yet also expected social media glorification in return for what I’ve done? How did it get to the stage where this would be my first response if a friend had done the same for me?

One source of influence which pops to mind are the handful of fashion bloggers I follow on Instagram. Perhaps you follow some too? If so, you’ll notice that when they are gifted another gorgeous skincare collection/bunch of flowers/handbag they make sure to post beautiful images of said gift whilst ensuring to tag the gift-giver, thus directing their followers to the company’s activities, as a way of thanking them.

A particular example of someone who does this on a regular basis is Margaret Zhang: a chick who goes to the same uni and me… and, whom at the ripe old age of 20, also happens to be a prominent fashion blogger (the type that gets to attend New York and London fashion weeks). And yes, I do sometimes feel like a bit of an underachiever when I see what she’s just posted. 

An aside in regards to Miss Zhang: in some ways I find it funny that I enjoy her work so much, seeing as my taste is so very different to hers – but I always enjoy seeing how she pairs really interesting pieces and I guess observing someone else’s style develop from a distance has a beauty of its own… In addition to this, I love the way she writes – it’s always a beautiful combination of irreverence, substance, depth and a sort of lyricism.

Ok. Margaret tangent over. We were talking about social media shout outs.

Here are some photos she has posted over the past couple of weeks:

Image  ImageImage  Image

You’re smart enough to figure out which Insta and description correspond with each other:
A belated Valentine’s Day shout out to her bf. #cupcakes.
A shout out to Tommy Hilfiger for her pre-show flowers and trench coat. #asyoudo
A shout out to her friend who sent her roses.
A shout out to the hotel booking site (and subsequent hotel) used during her stay in London. #LFW

Firstly, how come I don’t get showered with flowers and cupcakes and trench coats?? Hmm?? Answers, people!

Secondly, perhaps seeing posts like these from various sources multiple times a week could help explain my shockingly entitled mindset. See, I’ve allowed this to become my normal…

But the thing is that for Margaret, this is part of her work as a fashion blogger as every time she gives a company or brand a shout out it’s generating them the positive publicity they desire. What’s more, my guess is that some of these brands pay her to post these shout outs as part of their PR strategy and if not, it’s her way of her reimbursing them for their free products.

Except, Alex, you are not a fashion blogger who is being showered in free shoes. Although I obviously wouldn’t complain if that was the case. Duh. No, instead I am me. The thank yous I give and receive are not driving a potential 124,000+ people to my website with a single post.

Fashion blogging aside, most importantly I’ve realised that in this process I lost all perspective. Rather than making my friend’s day, what I was doing for her became an opportunity for me to look good in the eyes of others. If I remember correctly, that’s the opposite of what gift-giving is about – it should be about the other person and not myself and what I can gain from it.

What’s more, now that I’ve thought more about this particular instance, it has become increasingly clear to me that, it was I who should’ve been thanking her, not her thanking me.

So, to my lovely friend, it may be belated, but I hope you had a great day. Thank you for letting me share it with you and, in doing so, for making my day. Thank you for making my soul blossom.

Alex x