By Holly Russel, Regular ContributorAugust 23, 2015
I’ll admit it: I have certain friends with whom I have a love/hate relationship on social media. Their posts about how amazing their boyfriend is or their latest yoga-pose-on-a-mountain-at-sunrise annoy me, but I don’t hide or unfriend them.
A small part of me likes rolling my eyes and judging them for trying too hard.
I think things like, “get over yourself! Everyone knows you’re not perfect! BE AUTHENTIC!”
Then, I had my own inauthentic social media moment, and it made me reconsider my feelings about those friends’ posts. I was feeling awful about myself one day, so I posted a photo of me with my dogs that I knew would get a lot of likes. What I really needed was support and encouragement from friends, but I was feeling too crummy (and too lazy) to reach out for help. So I took the easy way out. I posted and waited. Almost immediately, my aunt liked the photo. Then my college roommate. Then about 115 other people followed suit. And you know what? It made me feel kinda better.
image via visr.co
Had I posted what was really going on in my mind that day, not only would I not feel better, but anyone following me would have been affected by my misery, too. And, I doubt I would have gotten much of a response. But posting a photo where all appeared to be fine and dandy – one taken weeks earlier –got me the “thumbs up” from friends and family and gave me a little boost that I really needed.
It made me think: why do I sometimes tear my friends down for projecting a too-perfect image? Maybe it’s what they had to do that day to survive.
Maybe they’re lonely and need to feel like somebody notices them. Maybe they just got dumped and are feeling unloved and insecure. Maybe they needed to remind themselves that they are not the sadness, failure, or disappointment they’re feeling by showing the world a better side of themselves.
It can be irritating when people seek validation via social media, but I think it’s important to stop and consider the possible motives behind it. Isn’t it more important to reach out to a friend who may be feeling bad than it is to have a news feed free from annoying content? Instead of rolling our eyes and scrolling on past, maybe we’d do better to check in on someone who is going a little overboard on the “my life is perfect” posts.
It could be that your most annoying Facebook friend is the one in need of the most kindness.
Do you ever seek validation from social media posts? Do your friends? Where else could we seek for this type of attention and support? Tell us below!
Holly Russel has a BA in Journalism from New York University. She’s a Senior Marketing Copywriter for a pet health company and counts dogs among her favorite things on the planet – along with tacos, books, social media, and the City of New York. When she makes it out from behind the computer screen, Holly spends her time practicing yoga, kayaking, and indoor cycling. She lives and writes in Wilmington, NC.
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