Since 2012, I have been programmed to judge my actions and opinions based on these three things…
“Like”, “Favorite”, “Retweet”
You can laugh, but if you’re a millennial, you realize how true this statement actually is. As much as I have tried to fight it, I still notice when something I say or do doesn’t have the social media push behind it. When no one is engaging, I have to stop myself from questioning if what I did was “right”. It’s maddening to think that your feelings and opinions have the ability to be stifled by a majority who are still figuring THEIR lives out.
So what do we do about it? How can I explain to my younger cousins, where social survival is necessary at their age, to not put as much weight into a pixelated “thumbs up”? I almost want to say I can’t; there’s this snowball effect and it’s gotten too big to take down…
…then there’s this other side of me that can’t let it go. So here I am.
My advice is simple. Stop caring.
If you set your worth as low as a bundle of Instagram hearts, your individuality is devalued…and trust me, it’s going to affect you. Notice how many times your self-esteem takes a hit when a group of faces dictate what is pretty, what is witty, what is smart, and what is “acceptable”. The danger behind this judgement is that everyone is doing it. No one wants to fall behind the pack. So they continue to fish for follows or for someone to notice them in a world that has become lonelier considering we can’t fall asleep without our phones taking place of the moon — lighting up with every notification.
When you stop caring [about social media] half as much, and really mean it, you get your life back. You bring to society a healthy, working mind with original ideas and unfiltered
pictures emotions. You start solely believing in yourself versus craving validation before you write your first sentence or direct your first scene. You trust your web series pours entertainment and that skirt, the one that makes you feel beautiful, will remain beautiful. Your image will never devalue because it didn’t get more than 20 “likes”. In fact, the beauty will intensify because human beings are verbally complimenting you. The interaction feels great. It feels real.
Because this time, it actually is.
Remember in Pleasantville when the town discovers their individuality, they begin to blossom with color? We, as a millennial generation, are sending our lives back in the monochrome by stripping away any ounce of distinction. We are conforming too quickly to a social acceptance while forgetting to develop our own sense of self. Wanting to be liked puts so much pressure on everything you do. Why not do your best, work on yourself, and practice your morals? Then whoever happens to follow suit and supports you, well, THAT’S real validation — the kind that will make you shit color.
Humans aren’t always going to like each other. Humans aren’t always going to agree. The best part is, they don’t have to. YOU don’t have to. Your opinions are enough. Your friends, the ones you spend actual face time with, are enough. Your ideas and humor and likes and dislikes…guess what? They too are ALL enough to support whomever you decide to become. I desperately want to live in a culture that focuses on promoting individuality while strengthening self-esteem without an app. If someone is comfortable in her skin, she should NOT be pressured to test this quality via social media. She should be smiling in her self-worth as she lives in the real world — where moving images take place and moments are discovered (and better yet, created).
As a millennial blogger, I want to sit here and tell you to follow me on Twitter and like the shit out of my Instagram, but who would I be if that’s how I measured my worth? If that’s all I cared about? I put more consideration towards growing as an individual, encouraging others to do the same, ditching negative energy, and choosing expression instead of validation. THOSE are my hashtags. If Oh Hey, Nina suddenly lost half of her “followers”, I would still feel secure in who I am as a writer and as an individual. It’s time you do, too.
Drop the social media leash and set yourselves free. Get your life back.
I’ll see you on the other side.