The Validation Drug
Oftentimes people look at my job title and assume that social media is my “thing”. That could not be further from the truth. In all reality, social media is something that even I struggle with. Yes, I may know all of the latest IG updates, how the pesky algorithms work, how to analyze analytics & the best filters to use- but does that mean I enjoy social media? No. Most days I detest social media. I often find myself scrolling for hours, for one client or another, and I am left with an empty pit in my stomach. I am left with a slew of jealous thoughts, frustration, anger & disappointment.
I truly applaud the creators of platforms like Facebook and Instagram- they were geniuses. But I wonder if when they created them, they knew that they would become the next drug? The greatest addiction to ever plague human kind? Did they know that this would become the gateway to our e-commerce addiction? Did they know that they were handing us the power to unite or tear families apart? Did they know that they would infiltrate our minds and embed a disease that would cause us to lose thousands of dollars, friends, our self-esteem, our confidence? I wonder if they truly knew, would they still have created this platform? Would they have created a tool that in one fell swoop unites and isolates? I would hope not, but you and I know both know the answer is most definitely, yes. I mean Zuckerberg wants to be validated too. 🤷♀️
For many of you reading this, you knew a time before social media, cellphones, instant connections & nationwide friendships. You knew the simplicity of the world and what it had to offer before and you often have an easier time disconnecting from this new world, because you have the ability to hold conversations and friendships. For the majority of Millenials & all of Gen Z, we never knew anything other than technology. We grew up with computers, cellphones, portable music; portable lives. We aren’t forced to have hard conversations (in-person), permanent friendships or meaningful relationships. We skate by on one-night stands, how many Snapchat streaks we can maintain and DM’s. We spend the entirety of our days scrolling and perfecting and posing- often never looking up to experience the world around us.
I believe humans can be fundamentally summed up to this statement: we want to know and be known. God planted a desire in us to be in relationship and in community. We are meant to connect and communicate with others. We are meant to hear and be heard. We are meant to share and listen. Why do you think toddlers love to share their food, their bugs, or their piles of rocks they collect? Because they have an innate desire to share & be shared with! Nobody has taught them to do that, yet they are born with that desire. It is not until they are told to “hush” or that they see selfishness demonstrated that they become selfish and quiet and withdrawn. Social media, at its core, was developed to expand our reach of sharing. It was designed to place our lives on display and enable us to connect with friends, family and strangers in every corner of the world. Yet social media is such a powerful tool, that when given to us, we turned it around and used it in the worst way. We aren’t fully to blame, these companies and their partners knew exactly what they were doing, to an extent, but we certainly didn’t make the wisest choices. Somebody gave us a place to write all of our feelings and thoughts and in exchange be offered “love”, “approval”, “praise” & product. What an evil genius plan. Who doesn’t want all of those things? What we didn’t know is the toxic web that we could so easily get trapped in as that “love”, “approval” and “praise” soon became fake, in-genuine, and a taxing responsibility. We were then forced into a world where to receive those same praises we had to show up in a certain way. A bright, white, pretty-in-pink, crystal-clear picture way. Just to keep up and for our lives to show up in other people’s feeds, we had to conform to what the platforms and our “followers” wanted to see. No longer was it about connecting & sharing, but about how many likes you got, how much the algorithms liked your content, and how good you were at showing up in character. What a messed up, twisted, painfully addicting system. But ya know? We keep showing up. We are addicted to that approval. We are addicted to the game. We are stuck because no matter how many people leave a certain social media platform, there will always be another one popping up to market ourselves on. In our deepest desire of wanting to be known, we don’t want to be left out, so instead we hop on the next bandwagon and put ourselves through daily rounds of “how many people will like my picture today?” aka: “how many people will like ME today.”
When trying to figure out social media, most people often try to go to all of the behind-the-scenes stuff. Hyper-analyzing analytics, the best posting times & the algorithms. That’s great, it really is, I’ve done and do the same thing, but I also bring another piece to the table: I look up. I’ve always been a people-watcher. There’s something about observing humans that is utterly fascinating. Their body language, how they react to people around them, their temperament and how they hold themselves based off of the elements that they think either make them superior or insufficient. People have asked me how I’ve learned everything about social media that I have and in all honesty, I’ve learned from watching. I’ve learned from watching how people act and how that relates to social media patterns.
How often are they hiding behind their screens?
What kind of justification are they looking for on social media?
How are they spending their time on the platforms?
Are they scrollers, passerbys or looking for an overt amount of validation & praise?
Are they there with pure intentions or do they have an underlying agenda?
Are they creating content with a creative spirit & intentionality to better those around them?
Are they simply throwing up photos of themselves for praise?
Are they slapping photos together that mean nothing to them, simply to make a few extra bucks?
By studying humans, even for a few minutes a day, you start to suddenly notices how their tendencies go from sporadic to very precise, sub-conscious and predictable. That’s how I do what I do. By studying people’s patterns you can establish exactly who your ideal client is, where they spend their time, how they spend their time, what catches their attention and what problems they have that need solving.
There are so many people out there who struggle with social media, what it stands for, where it is taking our world- and i understand that, because I struggle with the same things. But the reality? Social media isn’t going away. Like I mentioned earlier, there will always be a new platform, a new trend, a new “influencer”. Social media is always going to be around, but we as the users, have the ability to use self-control and change how we use it. I truly believe that we can make a change in how social media operates. It won’t be a massive change unless we all give a little, but really, social media is what you make it to be. If you are running a business, show up authentically. Don’t expect to show up with your greatest new service and get clients. Don’t show up with constant business advice that is an underlying scheme to get clients. Don’t show up with constant pitches. People don’t need to be sold another product. People will see right through you. Do you know what people really need? They need support. They need encouragement. They need someone in their corner. They need someone who is praying for them, cheering them on, a supporting shoulder for when they need to just lose it and someone who will be there with cupcakes in hand when they have a major win. That is what people desperately want and need. If you ever want to have a successful business with integrity, you will get to know your tribe first. You will show up for them not just on your platform, but on theirs too. You will hang out where they hang out (psst.. that’s in their feed). You will establish trust and a relationship. You may gain a wonderful client, you may not. You may gain 10 referrals from that person- you don’t know! It’s time we stop looking at every number like it’s something we can squeeze money out of. What if we looked at every number and realized that it is indeed a H U M A N who needs a love squeeze instead? How would that change the climate of social media? What if we looked up for 70% of our day and paid attention to the people around us & used social media to love on those who we can’t see every day the other 30%? I’m not saying you have to de-sensitize every post and only post happy life updates and pretend to be a person you’re not. What I am saying, is that it’s important to remember that FB, IG, Snapchat, LinkedIn, whatever you’re on, was created to connect and socialize, but that doesn’t make the live, real versions of people any less important or vital.
If you’re struggling in relationships or business I encourage you to evaluate these five things because social media is probably playing a bigger part than you realize:
How much time are you spending on social media everyday? (Go check your screen time on your iPhone or download an app to track it if you have an Android)
How do you feel when you’re on social media? How do you feel when you’re creating content? How do you feel when your photos don’t get as many likes or comments as you would like?
What is your life message/business message? Are you actively communicating your life motto through your actions on & offline?
Are you spending enough time with those around you and with the people who make a positive impact on your day-to-day life? Do you have friends or business colleagues that you can rely on to be there for you? (NOT just that girl who says she “totally gets this 😭” on every “woe-is-me” post you post on FB)
Are you treating social media as your diary or purely as a numbers resource? What if you used it as it was intended to be used? What if you kept your diary private & used it to love on & support others? What if you stopped using the people on social media as test subjects & potential customers and was in community with them, cheering them on, supporting them & giving away as much free value & advice as possible?
At the end of the day, there is a person behind every profile and every number and every like and every comment and every view. They do not define you. They do not choose what kind of person that you are. Until you change your intentions and actions, you will never see the change in relationships that you and those around you are desiring. You want to know and be known. They want to know and be known. Do that and I assure you, so many other things will fall into place.
Until next time,