Picture it, Detroit, MI, 2010, I entered the world of social media as we know it today. Yeah I had a MySpace but I rarely used it and really saw no value in it. But Facebook…
Facebook was like this new frontier. I could see pictures and read posts about people’s lives, kids, trips, weddings, birthday parties, bad wigs, weight loss and gain, drunken moments and bad decisions… people I hadn’t seen since elementary and high school. It was fascinating, and daily new people popped up. Some whose hairlines were so, uhhh, absent, it took me a minute to figure out who they were. Others whose glow up was phenomenal. It was the best of times…
Then I got into Instagram, Twitter, and now Tik Tok is like my favorite past-time… mini 90 second movies about everything from dance challenges, to folks cleaning their houses, to stuff that’s one set from only fans but for free. I use social media to keep up with folks, post my thoughts, share inspiration, and promote my business. It’s become part entertainment, networking tool, marketing tool, den of foolishness… a smorgasbord of uses… great and no so great.
One of it’s biggest downsides, second only to promoting unrealistic, unhealthy, and just completely false narratives about the ways people look, live, and behave… is this idea that if it isn’t on social media, it didn’t happen. The manifestation of that voyeuristic approach to people’s personal lives goes beyond social media into real life in ways that puncture relationships. Like stab the shit out of them. Murder, death, kill.
“You never post me” , “You didn’t like my status”, “You didn’t wish me a Happy Birthday on Facebook”, “You didn’t comment on my post”… WHAT!?!?!? I mean I have either heard or heard stories about these very conversations, even when acknowledgement, when necessary, is made person to person. There is a heavy belief among folks in a certain demographic… mostly people who grew up with social media… that it simply didn’t happen if you didn’t broadcast it. It’s the nightly news for foolishness. “Reverse cowgirl on that ass and knocked him out” (with a picture of him asleep), “We twerked on handstand for my girls birthday in the middle of Peachtree Street… city girls for life.”
That energy leads to people having this wild notion about what you should and should not share, either because they overshare, are nosy, or both. Why you never post your bf/gf!? Why you keeping secrets? Why you didn’t post your new house? This idea that somehow people should be privy to whatever sector of your life they deem interesting, juicy, entertaining is mad wild. No one is obligated to share personal shit with you unless, until, and in the forum they deem appropriate. Just because half the world posts themselves doing everything from brushing their teeth, changing their clothes, writing a letter, making a snack, and making their bed… does not mean anyone else must follow that blueprint. Social media got ya’ll so busy taking selfies all day you have forgotten that real human connection leads to vulnerability and openness… not keystrokes.
We live in a time where people would rather text that hear someone voice, inflections, tone; The necessities of effective and meaningful communication. The “don’t call me” faction is mad heavy. So people believe they have real friendships in interactions that are limited, virtual, and void of body language and human to human emotion. Some things cannot be translated via strictly wireless interaction. Someone on your “friends list” doesn’t make them your “friend”… that’s a strong word. An associate, acquaintance, Facebook or Instagram cohort sure… a friend… not necessarily. So those folks surely are not going to give you access to every intimate part of their lives. Stop expecting and asking for it. It’s mad weird. Read the room.
In a not so odd twist, the intensity and level of sharing people do to strangers gives an unrealistic idea to people you might actually have real relationships with about what they are privy to or the amount of equity in your friendship. We all have the right, whether virtually or in person to share what we wish. Sure, friends are open with one another, but everyone has boundaries. We’ve come to believe that our stock in other people is limitless and we have some say in their bounds… we don’t. It is imperative we allow folks to decide what they communicate and to whom… and as long as their communication with us is honest, responsible, kind, and with some semblance of regularity (whatever is regular for those people), then that should be sufficient. Demanding shit from grown people that they don’t owe you is madness. Social media is not a replacement for human connection, and it certainly isn’t the place to tell all your business. Cuz why don’t you post your credit card number and expiration date… I mean if we posting all of our business.
Thank you for attending my TED Talk.