I think it will be difficult for me to ever look at Facebook the same way again…
Back in February while researching for Rock Music Used To Be Rebellious, Now It’s Rap Music Instead, my friend Sam Royalty simply stated this to me in a side conversation about social media:
“People use Facebook status updates and pictures to find validation in their ideas and life choices.”
The more I’ve thought about it, the more it makes sense.
When I consider the selfie alone, it only makes sense that the “selfie taker” is looking for some kind of validation from their corner of society that their appearance is… relevant.
I say “relevant” because that could mean a lot of things depending on what the person is needing slight reassurance of:
Am I pretty enough? Do I look cool? Can people tell I’ve gotten in shape? Am I still funny? Am I even interesting?
With that being said, it goes beyond just the pictures we post. It transcends to our status updates and shared as well:
Am I doing a good job of being informative in society? Am I an influencer? Is the world aware I am part of it?
I would never want to be seen as the kind of person who is known for “needing attention” all the time, yet there’s this subtle paradox that says if you don’t post enough on Facebook, you’re sort of a Facebook snob who only looks at other people’s info and pictures without contributing or getting involved aside from “liking” other people’s post or very generically wishing them happy birthday after being prompted to by Facebook itself.
My theory is that those people who apparently don’t need confirmation or validation are at least looking for inspiration or, for a few minutes, to live vicariously as someone else.
Of course, I believe if you’re too inspirational, you may appear as a show-off. You don’t want your Facebook friends thinking you trying you’re, in essence, “trying too hard to win” at this unofficial game of Facebook.
Despite the daily overdose of negativity on Facebook, there is a fraction of my news feed that is actually positive; or at least neutrally interesting or fun. Like the pictures of my friends’ families: those are the posts I scroll my feed for.
More importantly, I try to be the person who is contributing those pictures, links, and status updates; just like Gandhi famously said:
“Be the change you want to see in the world.”
I really don’t think there’s truly a way to “win at Facebook,” sort of like the game Animal Crossings that I loved so much in college on Nintendo GameCube. Ultimately, to someone out there on Facebook, you’re going to contribute too much or too little; seem too showy or too aloof.
You can’t necessarily win or lose at the game of Facebook, but it’s a video game that millions of people play all day long, all over the world.
In theory, it’s the most popular and relevant video game of all time; that’s an idea proposed in the Netflix documentary, Video Games: The Movie.
But for this modern tower of Babel we have built and participate in, I say this is ultimately why we show up to it:
To give and/or receive legitimate validation, confirmation, and/or inspiration.
The reason I say legitimate is because not all ideas on Facebook should merit reinforcement. Plus, as I recognized earlier, Facebook has its fair share of negative people who would rather attempt to hurt instead of edify others.
Overall though, Facebook is a place (and/or social video game) where essentially anyone can give or receive confirmation on one’s beauty, worth, and relevance.
I can even post an “extreme close-up selfie” and I will get what I want out of it: for people to recognize the humor in it.
And no, I’m not writing this to get more “likes” on my Facebook page, or to try to prove I am a decent writer, or to simply feel validated by my Facebook friends so that I can essentially score more points in this video game we’re all playing.
Or am I?