Social media acts as necessary confidante for many
Writing has always had a huge presence in my life. But I didn’t begin churning out decently newspaper-worthy copy when I was still teething – I started where most little girls do. I kept a diary.
I can still see the sparkly cover with the white unicorn prancing across it. One of my favorite parts was always the little clasp that kept the deep, dark secrets of my 12-year-old self locked away from the prying eyes of my parents.
But in today’s Internet-dependent society, the sumptuous crushed leather of an 80-page journal has been replaced by the glowing interface of the Twitter homepage, and the vastness of a clean, white sheet of paper has been reduced to a box whose maximum capacity is a mere 140 characters.
But maybe the biggest difference of all is the way we choose to monitor our private thoughts.
The insistence on hiding our diaries and journals under our mattresses or in our sock drawers has been abandoned in favor of the mass broadcast of every aspect of our lives to hundreds of people, many of whom, let’s face it, we don’t even know all that well.
People use and abuse Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets as if they were their personal virtual diaries. Got dumped? Tweet about it before you even run out to buy a gallon of Ben & Jerry’s. Almost got run over by the Knight Rider? Post a ranting status as you continue walking into oncoming traffic. Cat sneezed? Please, Instagram a picture or three.
This might sound like yet another lamentation of the loss of “the good old days,” or of the evils of technology, but despite my slightly scathing tone, I don’t actually think this always has to be a bad thing.
As with anything, you’ll have your problems with overuse. Having high school girls brutally berate each other via Facebook over something petty is never ideal, and I’m not ignorant to the bullying that an impersonal computer screen can encourage.
But could there actually be benefits to sharing trite details of our lives with a computer/phone screen and subsequently with hundreds of online followers? In some bizarre way, does this make us, as humans, feel more fulfilled?
I don’t have a concrete answer, other than the fact that I’m pretty sure there isn’t one.
But I think this use of social media as a virtual diary does carry out a truly human need – the need for validation.
Sometimes it just isn’t enough for people to know something about themselves or their lives. The need to share an experience or thought with someone, anyone, can often be a comforting thing.
It can also be a way to connect and share opinions with people that you might never get the chance to otherwise. It’s a way of avoiding the loneliness we all strive to escape.
So while I usually tend to scroll past the yawning cat pictures and volatile tweets of a woman spurned, it doesn’t mean that the person who posted it didn’t feel a little bit better, a little bit more appreciated if they believe people did read it.
So next time you roll your eyes at a tweet or post you find meaningless or lame, ask yourself a question. Who are you to decide what gives meaning to someone else?
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