Why Are We All Hit­ting The Un­like But­ton?

We put our­selves out there all the time on Face­book and Twit­ter, but Tracy Rams­den asks when we be­came so self-con­scious about it

CLEO (Malaysia) - - PROMOTION -

They call it “In­sty shame”. It’s that mo­ment about two sec­onds af­ter you post a selfie and re­alise you look less cute and pouty and more Daisy Duck on steroids. Delete. It’s the same on Face­book – not enough ‘ likes’ on that pic of your mac­a­roni cheese? Delete. Or when you re­alise your oh-so funny 140-char­ac­ter quip on Twit­ter is, well, blah. You’re ob­vi­ous. You’re bor­ing. And you’re un­likely to be retweeted. Delete. So that’s just it. The best thing about so­cial me­dia? We get to say ex­actly what we want. The worst thing about so­cial me­dia? We get to say ex­actly what we want. Be­ing able to vo­calise ev­ery thought or ac­tion on­line means we in­evitably leave our­selves open for judge­ment. Say the ‘right’ thing and you’ll be flooded with ‘likes’, but say the ‘wrong’ thing and you’ll face the po­ten­tial wrath of ev­ery friend, ran­dom fol­lower, or stranger on­line.

“I sent out a ca­sual tweet a few months ago say­ing I thought Mel B had got­ten a bit greedy af­ter caus­ing that row be­tween TV net­works,” con­fesses one 21-year-old Syd­ney stu­dent who won’t be named for fear of an­other Twit­ter storm. “I couldn’t be­lieve the back­lash! Die-hard Spice Girls and Aus­tralia’s Got Talent fans bom­barded me with in­sults say­ing how dare I rip into her. It up­set me so much that I deleted the tweet in the end. I’ve started keep­ing my opin­ions to my­self now to avoid of­fend­ing any­one!” What’s on your mind? The joy of so­cial me­dia is that it is a democ­racy. No longer is it only pro­fes­sional com­men­ta­tors or celebs who can broad­cast their opin­ions and pic­tures to the world – we all can. But as, um, Spi­der-Man once said, “With great power comes great re­spon­si­bil­ity”. For ev­ery ‘like’ we get, there will al­most cer­tainly be some­body who dis­agrees. And we’re all too aware of it. “The big­gest anx­i­eties that women ex­pe­ri­ence on­line are, ‘Will I be liked? Will I look pop­u­lar? Will I say the wrong thing? Will people think I look fat or ugly in that photo? Will people think badly of me?’” says Jayne Mor­ris, power coach and au­thor of forth­com­ing book Burnout to Bril­liance.

In The Spot­light

The prob­lem is that this can lead to an ad­dic­tion to seek­ing out praise, not just on­line but in other ar­eas of life, too.

There’s even a name for this new-found para­noia – Mor­ris calls it ‘spot­light syn­drome’. “Many women feel like they are con­stantly be­ing watched and judged when, in fact, they over­es­ti­mate the at­ten­tion oth­ers are re­ally pay­ing to them,” she says. “It’s a prob­lem height­ened by so­cial net­work­ing be­cause com­ments and pic­tures we once

only shared in con­ver­sa­tions at work, home or with friends are now dis­played for ev­ery­one to view and com­ment on.”

So why do so many of us sub­ject our­selves to this on a daily ba­sis? It’s be­cause we have a ba­sic pri­mal need to feel ac­cepted, and rack­ing up the ‘likes’ can give us that, ex­plains Mor­ris. “The prob­lem is that this can lead to an ad­dic­tion to seek­ing out praise, not just on­line but in other ar­eas of life too. Face­book and Twit­ter make it quick and easy to get that praise fix and it can lead to com­pul­sive be­hav­iour.”

Scroll through your Face­book feed and you’ll most likely see an ex­am­ple of this at­ten­tion­seek­ing be­hav­iour. Sam­ple sta­tus: “Katie is won­der­ing why a cer­tain some­body keeps stir­ring things up!” This is fol­lowed by com­ments like, “Oh hun­ni­iii, don’t let them get you down”, “PM me if you need!” and “Al­ways here for you babe”. Voila! A quick and sim­ple ego boost that’s cheaper than ther­apy.

Pub­lic Para­noia

But as our on­line au­di­ences con­tinue to in­clude in­trigued strangers and ran­dom ac­quain­tances, rather than just our ac­tual friends and fam­ily, we run a con­stant gaunt­let of so­cial-net­work­ing faux pas on a much more pub­lic scale. Be­cause we all know the old adage “you can’t please all of the people all of the time” – no mat­ter how hi­lar­i­ous your tweet about MasterChef was. One hacker cap­i­talised on this need to be ‘liked’ by de­sign­ing a virus and em­bed­ding it into an email en­ti­tled “You seen what this per­son is say­ing about you?” You’d click on it too, right? (Note: don’t click. It is a virus!) But if we give in to this para­noia and adopt a self-im­posed gag­ging or­der, isn’t there a risk that Twit­ter, and life, will turn into one big fence with all of us sit­ting on it?

In a word, yes, says Mor­ris. “It is im­por­tant that we ex­press our­selves and have a voice – both off­line and on­line. The big dif­fer­ence on­line is that what you say is recorded for­ever. So choose to com­ment on things that you feel pas­sion­ately about. In­stead of fear­ing caus­ing of­fence or los­ing pop­u­lar­ity, be will­ing to part com­pany with people who aren’t on the same wave­length or who think there is only ever one ‘right’ an­swer.”

Un­fol­low The Leader

The se­cret, is know­ing who to un­fol­low. “In or­der to hon­our who you truly are as an in­di­vid­ual you can­not al­ways be liked by ev­ery­one. And that’s okay!” says Mor­ris. “Be a shade braver and put yourself out there – you will find it in­creases con­fi­dence in all ar­eas of your life.” That is worth much more than a hun­dred so-called ‘friends’.

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