We all do it. We’d be a**holes if we didn’t smile and say thanks to the bus driver or ask a friend how their day has been. But what I’m talking about goes beyond practicing basic human decency– I’m talking about pretending to care, or trying to be a better person than you really are, on social media.
Have you noticed that it’s become a sort of social obligation to accept a facebook friend request from someone you have so much as glanced at in a classroom? On twitter and instagram, it goes even further; if you don’t follow your roommate’s sister’s boyfriend’s cousin, you may as well move out. Oh, and how about those exorbitantly kind comments people leave on your pictures, yet those same people are afraid to look you in the eye in person? Now, I’m sure some people wouldn’t regard the aforementioned scenarios as problems but, for someone like me who has an extremely low threshold for insincerity, it’s all I see every time I log on to my social media. Let me address why I think these behaviors are problematic.
I. People who follow everyone and their grandmas aren’t doing so because they’re extraverted rays of sunshine who genuinely care about others. They’re doing so because they’re nosy. Not only are people investing their precious time into others’ lives (who have little to no effect on their own), but they are also using the information they learn to gossip and backbite. And I hope I don’t have to explain why those things are morally wrong.
II. Another (more obvious) reason people are so quick to follow others and leave heart-eye emojis on others’ pictures is because of clout. People want to be liked. They want to gain followers and, by being fake-nice, one may get the attention one craves. This fame-chasing mentality can be harmful in many ways: it may exacerbate peoples’ narcissism and give them a false sense of entitlement; it may reduce peoples’ worth to the number of likes and comments they receive and may serve to lower their self esteem; lastly, it may make it difficult for people to accept the real world, in which true friends are not easily made and compliments are few and far between.
III. Lastly, the fake-nice camaraderie and social justice warrior mentality blurs the line between reality and fantasy. People put their best foot forward on social media, creating this illusion that they are good looking people with hearts of gold who care about social issues. Many people think it’s enough to be woke online, but what do they do to instill change in real life? Furthermore, the constant fight for equality on online platforms may have something to do with how ‘triggered’ people get nowadays. When people see an injustice, or something even slightly questionable, they get upset about it instead of learning all the facts and coming up with long-term solutions. It is easy to be loud and opinionated, but many of these people are often quite ignorant and fail to do things to help the causes they supposedly believe in.
Now, since I’m not an advice column or psychologist, I’m not going to tell you that you need to change your ways. However, I am personally on a never-ending quest to becoming an authentic and self aware human being, so I’ll tell you how I stay true to myself while on social media:
- I post things that I like myself. This deters me from doing things for the sole purpose of appeasing others or gaining popularity.
- Aside from a handful of public figures and celebrities who I follow to stay in the loop or whose work I admire, I only follow people I care about or those who I would like to have in my network. If I could avoid it, I probably wouldn’t use social media for networking purposes, but in this day and age it’s pretty much a given.
- When I leave appreciative comments on a post or in a group chat, I mean it. I never leave comments to gain attention or to appear more outgoing than really I am, as what I say is solely meant for the person to whom I am responding.
- I try not to be preachy. Sure, sometimes I post about issues I care about, but I generally only do this with things I am actively involved in or trying to change in reality.
As I said before, some people may not understand why I find disingenuity so appalling. I view my opposition to it as both a blessing and a curse; it keeps me from being anything but real and makes it easy for me to spot fake people, but it also makes me distrustful and proves difficult for me to conform.
Let me know your opinions on this topic– Do you think pretending to care is a problem, or is it just a basic part of the human condition? As always, thank you for reading. Don’t forget to like and share!