Social Identity Crisis

With the increasing and unyielding new digital/social behaviors of posting, sharing, Tweeting, Instagramming, liking, commenting, and divulging, the term identity crisis has taken on an entirely new meaning.

It’s always been cool to be cool. But now, no one cares about your one witty remark at dinner, or the fact that you started the dance party in your friends living room, or even that you can shotgun a beer (unless of course any of these are documented with a lovely Instagram). Because these moments are fleeting, and showing your cool on social media is cemented in time.

Whenever something big happens, what’s the first thing you do? Maybe call your Mom & Dad? Shoot your sister a text message? Ping a close friend? Or do you skip all the personal mini-messages and go big?

“HEY FACEBOOK! I JUST TOTALLY ROCKED MY MCAT (LSAT, GMAT, GRE, BOARDS … fill in your epic exam of choice)! 1/100THS OF THE WAY TO BECOMING DOCTOR SO-AND-SO!”

“HI FACEBOOK! I JUST GOT MY DREAM JOB AND IT’S PAYING ME DOUBLE WHAT I ASKED FOR! I CAN’T BELIEVE MY LUCK!”

I can’t say I’ve never done it. In fact, I’m a social media slore. I  gushed when I booked my vacation, when I found out I was moving to New York. I brag about my family all the time. And what is this blog? A collection of my most wonderful moments for the world to ooh-&-ahh at? It’s sort of gross if you think about it. Social narcissism at it’s best.

And then there’s the opposite.

GOD, COULD THIS DAY GET ANY WORSE? I JUST WANT TO CRAWL UNDER A MOSSY ROCK AND WAKE UP AT THE END OF 2012 WHEN THE WORLD MAY VERY WELL BE ENDING. FML FML FML.”

“SPENDING ANOTHER FRIDAY NIGHT ALONE IN MY APARTMENT WITH A TUB OF CHUNKY MONKEY AND 5 SEASONS OF GILMORE GIRLS. SO LONELY.” (don’t sound so bad to me!)

Social media can turn into an emotional black hole. When one experiences any heightened sentiment, it has the potential of coming out in a manner quite akin to maudlin word vomit. Be careful with that.

But the likelihood to share… life… on social media can also be incredibly eye-opening. If you’re an avid sharer, you’ve let people in on the good, the bad, the ugly. You’ve had to face your demons and come to terms with things that you don’t necessary love about yourself. It’s helped you realize what the best you looks like (even if it’s more outward facing than inward – these things can change!). What you’re not proud of (I’d never post that I lashed out on my boyfriend after a bad day at the office- something I need to work on, or that the big project I was working on just didn’t materialize like I’d hoped), what you are proud of, and moments that have helped define you.

And it’s a truly wonderful thing to be able to look back at that. I flipped through my Facebook Timeline today (and those of you who have been forcefully switched over, stop complaining. I’m certain Facebook knows your social behavior better than you do, and you’ll end up loving it). It was just so funny to see. I, for one, have realized that I was frighteningly free with my photograph posting in 2007, outrageously open with my work distresses in 2010 (and the fact that I watch Gossip Girl – EMBARRASSING, and probably rule peoples newsfeeds in the present (ps the earlier alliteration was totally unintentional. Love when that happens). But I was really interested to see one of my “braggiest” moments in my digital life. So I went back to when I announced my “big move” to NYC


Such a moment of excitement and exhilaration made permanent through social media. But in this moment, it wasn’t just about me. There was a crazy amazing, unexpected, influx of togetherness. Social is where people come together to rejoice in one another’s little victories, lend a virtual shoulder to cry on, or simply show that they care.

But it’s a fine line between relying on your social network for a pat on the back or a second of self-affirmation vs. requesting that they act as your virtual shrink. Facebook and Twitter aren’t the right place to bare your soul, people! That’s what blogs are for ;)

XO,

AG

 

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4 thoughts on “Social Identity Crisis

  1. One wonders…while social media might be a good venue for people to “lend a virtual shoulder to cry on,” is that necessarily a good thing? Certainly it makes it easy for even the most remote people in your life to “be there for you,” but does it not underscore how much less together we really are? With a click of a button or the typing of a few words, one can be there for ‘virtually’ [heh heh] anyone. However, can you count on that person to be there for you when it counts?

    This is not to say that I disapprove of social media. I use it all the time and it’s a good way to catch up with people or see what they’re up to. I just think that people need to be cautious when relying on it, because what may seem like togetherness could merely be an illusion…

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  3. I just de-activated FB because it got to be too much. I was posting and taking more photos rather than living and breathing in the moment. The fact that a moment or photo captured on Facebook is cemented in time is the very reason why I will be overly aware of photos taken around me, how I look, how I come off. Now that I’ve gotten off of Facebook, I feel a sense of liberation and am able to be 100% in the moment with the people I am physically with. I have a few friends who have done this as well and express the same kind of positive feelings.

    Social, to me, is something that I still struggle w/ integrating into my life. There’s a delicate balance between being connected virtually with others vs using it as a platform to over-stalk and over-share as soon as I’m off work. There have been some interesting articles lately on the narcissism and braggery that arises from Facebooking…and also, the depression that results from seeing others lead better, bigger lives than yours. Selectively posting your giant engagement ring and your best accomplishments can make your ‘friends’ feel less good about their accomplishments and their lives.

    I will probably get back on Facebook because of the 1% of friends on there whom I actually don’t have another means to communicate with. That being said, I want to go back on when I’m able to be a real shoulder to cry on and can show that I care in a more humane way than clicking a Like button.

    All that being said… Skype date please :)
    Miss you dearly,
    Nancy

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