The direct correlation between the amount of compliments on your DP and your total life worth.
There was a time when Facebook wasn’t for sharing your oh-so-fun holiday compressed into seven photos max (people get bored by the eighth, it seems) or posting someone else’s video for all your Friends to see/comment/share/like. Selfie culture, status games, and artsy cover photos weren’t bombarding my news feed at that stage – it was the good ol’ era of relentless Farmville requests and low-quality memes. Granted, at that point I was still an underage kid who shouldn’t have even been on Facebook, with no grasp of how the social media site worked outside of the games section, but that doesn’t invalidate the great shamelessness surrounding those days. But since then, a couple of things have changed.
Upon entering intermediate, I learnt a few things; the people I had known for six years were changing, and the world was a lot bigger beyond primary school. 12-year-old me realised that, as someone who had arrived from a local fish pond, she couldn’t possibly stand out in this unfamiliar ocean. There were people who could draw even better, write with more flair, tie their shoelaces at a ludicrously faster rate – I was no longer in line for being the best at any activity under the sun. Suddenly the easter egg colouring contest I won in Year 5 seemed like something to hide, rather than wear proudly as I did before this tragic epiphany of personal incompetence. Throughout the year this wretched sense of competition, a desperation to be seen among a crowd of others wearing identical uniforms, grew and manifested itself in every corner of life like a totalitarian regime – eventually finding its way online.
Imagine the envy when I first saw someone whose profile picture had gained over a hundred likes. (A hundred was a big number back then, trust me.) After I had gotten over the initial shock and confusion (how was that even possible? A HUNDRED?!) something clicked in my mind. I eradicated my timeline of all those silly posts I made when I had no idea what proper punctuation was. Instead, they were replaced with weekly statuses dripping in unhealthy doses of wit and sarcasm that conformed to common internet humour. My old cartoon display pics were trashed, along with embarrassing photos my sister shared – some of which I’m now glad are saved elsewhere for the heart-warming, sentimental value. I revised all my liked musicians and movies, fine-tuning out anything that would be considered out of the norm, even if it meant waving my favourite childhood films goodbye. My Facebook profile was a pretentious projection of the cool kid I wanted to be; a disgustingly false and edgy preteen masterpiece.
At first, this new online identity satisfied me. With more likes rolling in by the second, and an endless stream of notifications lighting up my screen, I felt like the CEO of a massive, successful company. But after a while, I discovered that it wasn’t what I wanted at all. Facebook was no more than a machine I was operating, which spouted out self esteem in the form of compliments and heart emoticons in the comments section. I spent my afternoons comparing likes and friend counts with people I knew, but there was no indication of whether any of these friends would even say hi to me in real life, or if they only liked my photos in hopes of a like back. My friends list became cluttered with all the people I’d accepted purely to see the rise in number, and eventually I became exhausted. This wasn’t what I wanted at all.
So came account makeover number two. All ideas of strategic posting times and guarded monitoring of games I played went down the drain. My tactical DPs were deleted (they reminded me of a social insecurity I needed to put behind myself) and friends list erased of people I didn’t really know. I used the like button appropriately – for posts I actually enjoyed, no matter how lame or unpopular the content. It wasn’t as if anyone truly cared anyway. I changed my profile picture whenever I felt like it, not to give people a gaping chance to shower me with affection, but to represent who I genuinely was. I used social media completely and utterly selfishly; I disregarded anyone who believed the things I posted were ruining their feed, and customised everything for my own personal enjoyment. And although I had essentially ruined all the ‘coolness’ I worked so hard to preserve, I was happy.
I can’t say I relate when you tell me you want more likes on the photo you posted between six and nine at night for maximum exposure. There’s no harm in being proud that this funny status was popular. It’s absolutely fine to feel good about the love and appreciation from your friends in the comments. But once you start relying on Facebook as a valid source for your self worth, and measuring your popularity, success, and everything in between through a flimsy profile pic, you’ve dug yourself into a hole. Don’t let social media rip into your insecurities, because guess what? The direct correlation between the amount of compliments on your DP and your total life worth? It doesn’t exist.