Are We as Happy as We Seem on Social Networks?
Today I feel good when I look in the mirror, but I don’t need to take a photo of myself so that others can see it. I went out to the street and gave a smile to the person who passed by, but I don’t need to publish that on a social network to get “likes.” Smiles are enough for me.
We’ve all been surprised at the lengths people will go to on social networks, these new means of communication. They expose their lives, their thoughts, and their daily activities on social networks, drawing back the curtain of their mind and revealing their own fears and faults.
It must be said in the first place that new technology and social networks are wonderful developments that have enriched our lives. They unite people, shorten distances, even worlds, and they offer us better accessibility to new knowledge.
However, everything has a specific application and purpose.
What motivates people to publish their thoughts every second, or every few hours to post mirror selfies?
I want your attention, I want instant gratification
With the arrival of social networks, a new platform of interaction has opened in which it’s not necessary to leave your house to talk, to share, to seduce, or to exchange information with friends.
Now there’s a sense of frightening immediacy. It’s not necessary to go outside or get on a bus. You can fix yourself up, paint on a better smile, and take a photo that can be instantly published to social networks.
And the reward is immediate. Dozens, hundreds of likes and favorites appear within seconds. And that is fabulous for people who need stimulation, immediate recognition and positive reinforcement that in reality is brief and fleeting.
So then they repeat it again and again for hours, because obtaining this kind of reinforcement is like an addiction. And because there will always be someone who will give them one second of attention, even though they don’t even know all of the people who are giving them likes.
Sharing faults, emptiness, and needs
“I feel alone, this person has betrayed me, I’m having a bad day, this world isn’t worth it, this person is selfish, nobody understands me…”
You may have encountered these kinds of statuses on many occasions on social networks. If they’re your friend and you appreciate them, you wouldn’t hesitate to pick up the phone or meet up with them to find out what happened and help them.
Nevertheless, these messages are public outbursts. Rather than getting some air or being alone quietly for a minute, they prefer to post it on these networks that are visible to all eyes.
If you don’t know the person, you may wonder how they’re doing after a few days, but in reality these threads are never resolved.
They prefer to leave their discomforts, their tantrums, their slights, or their sadness cathartically on public platforms like social networks.
I project something I’m not in order to feel better about myself
Have you ever encountered a fake profile? Have you established a friendship or relationship with someone who wasn’t who they said they were? There are many people who project virtues that they don’t actually have, fantastic stories accompanied by deceitful photos.
Sometimes, we can see the behavior of certain friends in our social networks, talking about things that they haven’t done, or portraying a distorted image of themselves.
For many people, social networks are protective shields where they can stay within their comfort zone, in which they hide their fears and insecurities, while projecting something that they yearn to be or have. You don’t even need to leave the house anymore to find a partner. You don’t need to go to certain events to become friends with people with similar tastes.
The world is only a click away and this is without a doubt something wonderful, but it can also be dangerous depending on the person.
Balance lies in enjoying life intensely, taking advantage of every situation, but giving priority to the senses: sight, touch, smell, taste…
No face is more seductive than one that is right in front of us, no hug is warmer than one that you know needs to be given, and no conversation is more profound than one that starts over a cup of coffee.
Social networks are fantastic for sharing specific things, for communicating with people who are far away from us, for laughing, learning, and discovering, but one must always respect one’s own privacy. Seek intimacy that is not based on likes.
You don’t need to share a picture on social networks for other people to acknowledge your happiness or sadness. Each of us must know how to read our own sadness and enjoy our happiness without needing an audience. We must know where to draw the line between the public sphere and private life.
Images courtesy of Pascal Campion