Take a long look at the past decade.
Particularly, look at how social media has changed. And, if you really look closely…
Look at how you’ve changed along with it.
I’ve been on Facebook for 11 years. It began simply. I was fleeing the horrid MySpace platform which had grown out of control. Facebook was refreshingly simple, yet oddly addictive.
So, I switched.
It made reconnecting with old friends, classmates and family much easier. And that’s where it all started. From there, I read posts, made thoughtful and sometimes sarcastic comments. I got into debates, started some of my own arguments, and posted for causes I thought were important.
I tried to be funny. I tried to be tolerant.
And, I tried to be myself.
Then, in February of 2009, Facebook introduced the Like button. And this is when the game changed.
With this magic button, a person instantly had a system by which their thoughts, comments and pictures could be rated as either interesting, or not.
Likes soon became a driving force, and a metric by which we judged ourselves. To attain many likes actually “meant” something. But, what exactly did they represent?
Anyone can post a thought, but without likes, does the thought count?
Many questions abound from this magic button that has managed to place itself upon the egos of so many, implanting a numerical value to rate how loved we are, how interesting we are, how smart, funny, witty or otherwise engaging we are. And most of all, how known, popular or famous we are.
Research is now showing that what an individual perceives as “low” social media Like numbers can be related to a new form of identity crisis, lowered self-confidence and self-esteem. Likes reflect our importance in our now digital world, and this is translated into our physical world. They give us a self-rating of our digital identity, one that we can see in real-time, all thanks to website algorithms.
But what of identity?
The other day I had a social conversation regarding identity and self-pride. My feelings on pride are simple. It’s unimportant. Pride is a volatile word, and an even more volatile concept. In fact, it’s a dangerous one, one that can lead to severe depression, or even greater self-aggrandizement and megalomania, and all of this can easily be fueled by the Likes we receive or don’t.
Yes, something seemingly so simple (and irrelevant to some) can have the greatest impact on the whole of society.
With so much emphasis not on the actual self, but instead on personal (digital) self-identity, people are quickly forgetting about actual physical community. When placed in a digital space for hours on end, we forget about it entirely.
And then a human thing happens…
We become enslaved by our digital space. We begin to feel threatened by others. We attack others because our identity is at stake, but what we don’t realize is that we have forgotten who we are.
We become lost in the noise, only focused on our own self-projection, only focused on the Likes that validate our existence.
This is the creation of division, a division of self, fostering an egocentric and anthropocentric worldview that is quickly being assimilated by the masses, particularly here in the west with the entitled, opinionated, identity craving, like-seeking culture we’ve created here in just the last decade.
We must now tread carefully…
Creating a society that nurtures and supports growth is done through our efforts of creating common ground and by coming together, not by focusing on what sets us apart.
Perhaps when we learn this, we will understand just what and who we’ve been missing out on.
However, this phenomenon of mining and seeking Likes is only a small part of creating a self that removes itself from community (thus creating zombies) and seeks only self-aggrandizement. We now have numerous social sites and a multitude of ways to seek self-fulfillment, even if they be in the most vain of ways.
But it’s nothing new, right?
The human race has been seeking validation since the day Man looked upon his own reflection and compared himself to another.
So, why stop now?
Let’s disengage completely.
Let’s count our Likes.
Let’s become a society of self-absorbed, egotistical asshats who grow up to make decisions for the community.
We’re already here.