Breaking Out of Social Mediitis

Facebook stalking: we all do it. Our laptops flip open and our home screens become a mini-movie starring all of our friends and acquaintances in parallel universe versions of themselves. And we’re sucked in. I am ever-so-slightly fearful of the day an App exists with which you can see who’s been flipping through your 752 tagged photos and Facebook statuses of yore – a.) because I will be caught red-keyboarded, and b.) because I kinda don’t wanna know if there are weirdo sociopathic trolls out there who are wasting away minutes flipping though my personal, unprofessional profile. I’d rather just stay in the dark on that one.

There is an illness facing our modern culture, and it’s called Social Mediitis. Actually, I just made that term up. But it seems pretty appropriate, no? The suffix -itis denotes some sort of inflammation, so it is only fitting to call the “inflammation of our social media awareness and personality” Social Mediitis.

Facebook is an interesting thing. As a voyeur, it can make you feel inadequate and alien. We see photos and check-ins — and, the worst, status updates — that portray these action-packed lives filled to the brim while we’re sitting at home enjoying pajamas and kettle corn (and, apparently, Facebook) on a Saturday night. Or worse yet, on a TUESDAY night. Seriously? All this is happening and the work week isn’t even over? But I like my oversized pj pants from 2002, you think. I like polishing off the kettle corn bag by myself, figuring out ways to talk myself out of the mindset that could put me in the place of regretting it later. And we think there must be something wrong with us, because all that other stuff we see going on doesn’t really seem so appealing.

Are we socially unacceptable freaks?

Social Mediitis has created yet another outlet through which to question ourselves and our purpose – to question if we are enough.

As a participant, inadvertently, it can put our fears and insecurities on display. We start to prove things to ourselves via Facebook. It is a frightening thing to step outside of yourself and psychoanalyze your “social nethics”. Your updates detail your entire morning routine, noting every single person you bumped into and every single aisle you traveled down in the grocery store: are you afraid of being alone? You take every opportunity possible to broadcast extremes: are you scared that people might not take you seriously, or are making false assumptions?

What is even more frightening is asking yourself if you are trying to convince others of what you broadcast — or if you are trying to convince yourself. Ask yourself if when you are signing onto your social media outlet of choice, you are signing onto the defensive.

The solution isn’t necessarily to give up your online life, although some people DO go all Aldous Huxley and flee the environment altogether. But rather, the solution is honesty, empathy and respect. Honesty with what we are saying and the image we are painting, empathy for those whose actions and updates seem questionable and most imperative, respect for ourselves. We are too precious, too malleable, too extraordinarily complex as human beings to misrepresent ourselves or doubt where we are and who we are in the here and now. “Fake It Till You Make It” does NOT apply here.

Don’t get me wrong. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. aren’t the enemy. They are fun. They keep us connected and in the loop when life gets busy. And, when used with an honest heart and a clear mind, can be an opportunity to let our true selves shine. And the more vehicles we have to reinforce ourselves wholly – the more comfortable and confident in ourselves we become. Good and bad included. Social Media can be an exercise in focusing on the good, on the gratitude, on the blessings. Not FABRICATING the good, but seeing the good that is already there. And really, everyone benefits from that. Ourselves and our 879 friends included.

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