The power of social media is it forces necessary change. – Erik Qualman
I am not afraid to admit that I am a sucker for the thumb. Each time I post something on social media, I am shamelessly checking to see if someone liked what I had posted. I am shallow like that, it is my weakness and I am working on weaning myself off of it. I am quite certain I am not alone in this nasty habit.
So why do we do it?
My thought is that it stems from our formative years. Back when some of us (probably most of us) sucked our thumb as a young child. We sought comfort from the action when we were afraid, alone, sleepy, bored or even hungry. So it makes sense that we subliminally seek the “thumbs up” on our posts. When someone we care about likes our stuff, we get some comfort in that and when we don’t, we sometimes get neurotic about it. The simple like from our friends validate our ideas and feeds our ever-hungry egos.
I often wonder if there is a correlation between anxieties that people face today and the number of likes, comments and shares they receive from social media. When you are lacking self-confidence, to begin with, and you put yourself out there on social media only to be met with little or no response, it can be debilitating. Personally, I have had times of anxiety from this phenomenon and it really took a lot to get me out of those negative mindsets. I would see some cat meme or negative status from a friend get more likes and comments than something I wrote that was very personal and positive. This comparative mindset is very destructive and I have had to work on it very hard to keep myself from going down that path.
Social media is all over the place, sometimes we just can’t get away from it. What it boils down to it is that social media is not to blame for our troubles. Our need for recognition from our friends has been ingrained in our minds way before we were introduced to the world of timeline friendships. Our need for “keeping up with the Jones’es” has been stapled to our egos way before we even begun to compare our real lives to the online lives of our friends. This is something we need to change in ourselves offline.
Personally, my strategy has been to focus solely on positive people, people I really want in my life. Positive people on social media give you inspiration, they move you. When you follow them around enough, you tend to become positive too. This positivity somehow manifests itself into self-confidence. This self-confidence is the currency to weaning yourself off of the wicked “blue thumb”. The more confidence you have, the less you will seek it from others. The likes become irrelevant and you become positive. A funny thing happens though; you tend to get more likes by being genuinely positive! How about that?
The moral of the story is that in order to wean yourself off of the nasty “thumbs up” life suck, we need to realize that we have a nasty habit that requires us to learn more about ourselves. We need to seek comfort in our own thoughts, we need to learn to feed our own egos and we have to stop posting to seek recognition. Shunning social media and cutting that social interaction off completely is not the answer. We wouldn’t cut off our 3-year old’s thumb for sucking it, would we?