You feel a smidgen of insecurity amidst the restlessness residing in your chest. It’s been a while since you posted that status update. No responses. Have you worded it right? Is it too aggressive? Is it too passé? Why isn’t it getting the traction it deserves? It’s hilarious, isn’t it?
We don’t consciously linger on these thoughts for long; they simple brush past us, whistling an impression in our ear, all in the fraction of a second.
Much like any internal struggle, addiction to social media to feed our ego needs to be self-diagnosed. Several studies show how social media use is linked to gratification, jealousy and self-esteem. We all vary on this scale of fragile to unbreakable vanity, but take a step closer to see how you oscillate between the traits of narcissism and insecurity as the likes on your picture/status update go up, pause and then shoot up again.
Here are 5 signs that you are addicted to Facebook likes [AKA social media validation]:
- You constantly check your phone after a status update/photo upload/witty comment.
- You feel a slight nudge of neglect when you don’t see any action [share/RT/like/comment] within the hour.
- The moment you see the number of likes climbing up, you feel a slight sense of accomplishment.
- You find yourself over-analysing pictures and status update posts, looking for why they are not getting traction.
- You constantly keep an eye on the social media updates of your circle of friends, looking at responses and numbers [their profile picture perhaps?].
Additional sign: If you can’t resist looking at your buzzing phone while you’re doing something that classifies as important- like taking care of your child, driving or having an important conversation with your significant other.
Insecure or vain?
A study at York University shows that people who used Facebook the most had the most insecure or narcissistic personalities. So, the question is: Is social media feeding the need for personal validation or is it simply showcasing the real-life personas of these users?
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the answer to the question is that our virtual person is indeed much needier than our real one. Ford’s 2014 report [Yes, the car], Vying for Validation tells us that we’ve grown quite fond of our virtual selves:
“What looks like—and perhaps started as—vanity showmanship is now a deep desire for validation. A Facebook “like” or two makes us feel good. A dozen “likes” makes us feel great, creating a quiet but fierce need to revisit the pieces of our narrative, to tweak, color and edit them to our liking—and to the liking of others.”
A Personal Question
These questions you ask yourself are meant to spark a conversation about how secure you are, being yourself, without the armor of filters, auto-correct, ready-to-use quotes and carefully-constructed-and-edited 140 character opinion pieces. It’s a cleanse of sorts – a detoxification.
To many of us, the irony is clear as day: the more you needy your virtual self, the more you seek validation, and the more approval you get, the more brittle and needy your ego becomes.
When does it stop?
When you decide to. Put your phone away and engage in some real face-to-face interaction. Don’t feel afraid to feel shame, regret and sadness. Let loneliness keep you company to bring you closer to reality [it’ll only make you realize your need for intimacy – hopefully leading to action on your part]. Keeping the pristine image online untouched will do little for your inner self, but getting to know the parts of you that aren’t so pretty without getting defensive will help you live a life without pretenses –with real intimacy, real connections and real conversations.
Reflect on that:
Following all of the above, we’ll leave you with a few things to ponder: Are we staying true to our genuine selves or are we simply touching-up the virtual image to make us seem smarter, prettier, happier and more successful to those around us? Are we creating a culture for the next generation where egos are cradled with constant attention and pampering that is unmatchable in real life?
Featured Image: media.ford.com
Do you know someone who spends an unhealthy amount of time on social media? Share this with them!