There are many bad things to be said about Social Media. It is often used to propagate lies, to misinform people, to divide our country, and to avoid meaningful conversation. I deny none of its evils. I am aware of them all, and I deplore them.
For all that, it’s also nearly all of my social life. I think the more of a physical social life one has, the less of an online social life that person is likely to have. I have friends whose online presence is limited to pictures they post, or in which others tag them, at social events. They’re at weddings, birthday parties, and anywhere else that there are large groups of people. And, in their pictures, you can see that they are not only comfortable, they are often radiant in their joy at being in the company of others. I’m happy as can be for them. I like to see my friends enjoying their lives. Sadly for me, they’re not spending much time online, so I get to interact with them much less than I would like. Some of those people are among my favorites. It makes me a little sad that we can’t be closer.
Those who have a larger online presence tend to have fewer photographs of themselves at social events. You will rarely see such pictures of me. I don’t feel comfortable in the presence of other people. I’m told this may put me somewhere on the Autism spectrum. I don’t deny it, but I can’t prove it.
If I’m at a social event, there must be emotionally powerful music playing, or the event was essential to a loved one. I’m hoping to leave the house next week to celebrate my birthday, and the birthday of my best friend, two weeks late. It will be the only social event I have attended in 2019. I don’t see myself socializing again until sometime in 2020. People scare the shit out of me.
The worst part of my social life being confined to Social Media is that I find myself far too concerned with numbers. I find I enjoy getting “Likes.” “Loves” make me pay even more attention. And, this interest in numbers seems to change who I am. I get more responses from cat pictures than I get from the actual work that I do. I noticed today that several people liked an article I posted, but none of them actually read it. The longer something is, the less likely anyone will pay attention to it. I’m a person seeking social interaction in an environment where the attention span is about 7 seconds. I prefer to be noticed for my writing or my podcasts. I take no pride in cat pictures, but I post them more often than I once did. Someone will notice.
Perhaps I should find another place for myself on Social Media. Facebook is all I know. I’ve heard of Twitter, but there’s even less space there to express oneself. If you know of a Social Media space where people have more time and longer attention spans, I would be grateful if you brought it to my attention.
Absent that, I have to change my thinking. There are those of you who come here and read what I write. Some of you even like the writing I do. Some will discuss it with me. The number of you decreases daily, and I believe I will have to stop looking at numbers to tell me who I am, lest I find myself to be less than I hope. That can’t be good. It’s certainly not an advantage in fighting depression.
I have already decided I won’t be defined by how much money I can earn. I must also choose not to be defined by how many “Likes” I can earn. I’m still the same Fred. You’re still the same you. The numbers don’t tell us who we are. We do that for ourselves.
Thank you for taking the time to be one of my numbers. The smaller they are, the more each one means. You mean a great deal to me.