Forget the Cambridge Analytica scandal; I have a far more personal grievance with Social Media. I hate using it. All of it, there isn’t one social media site I wish to use more, or better. There’s nothing genuine about it. It’s supposed to make our lives easier and let us feel more connected than at any other time in history, but most of us are disconnected, broken and torn away from our surroundings.
My issue isn’t with Social Media but the intense pressure to appear popular to attract new followers, but it shouldn’t be a measure of talent or success. Unfortunately, I feel compelled to use it to share my work with like-minded people, but all too often I come across people looking for something in return for their cheap use of likes and follows. I’ve fallen into the trap myself, but why do we do it to ourselves.
Surely, if we offered valuable content, users will follow. Social Media has disturbed the ease in which we connect with our friends, and creators communicate with a dedicated audience. I don’t mind the conventional concepts found on Social Media sites such as sharing holiday selfies on Facebook or Instagram. It’s the intense pressure we feel for validation after posting these pictures that irks me. Why do any of us need 1 million likes on a post and a following 100 times greater?
I suppose my biggest issue then, is with the users of these sites than with the sites themselves. I share my work and try to interact with my followers regularly, but I come across ingenuine comments, likes and followers all of the time. To be blunt, it pisses me off. It’s not what I want to achieve with my Social Networks. So, here it is everything I hate about Social Media.
If You like Mine, I’ll Like Yours, Even If I Don’t
There’s a hashtag on Instagram, in fact, there’s a few of them, but the most popular one is #like4like. The premise of this tag is simple. It does what the subheading says it does. If someone likes an image, the poster will return the favour, regardless of whether they care about the content on display or not.
It’s not that I don’t understand the reasoning behind it; I don’t understand the logic of it. Most of the time I post poetry on Instagram, and as soul-destroying as it may be to watch my work go unnoticed or ignored, I’d prefer ten genuine likes than 100 people liking my post because I doubled-tapped theirs first. It just doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t prove my talent, or my popularity, the only thing it serves is my ego.
Instagram has experimented with not showing the total likes on a post but will a full implementation of this policy change the current trends. I doubt it. We’ll still see the likes on our profile, and as long as people like what we do, we’ll feel empowered. However, Instagram’s new algorithm hasn’t done anything to improve this problem.
Social Media thrives on interaction, and that’s what makes it so successful. These revolving like for like phenomenon doesn’t improve this experience. It negates it. Most Instagrammers don’t realise this happens and try to engage genuinely with these users.
The new algorithm sifts post by engagement rates, instead of the latest uploads, leading to a higher need for users to participate in like for like links. If your picture doesn’t get enough likes or comments in respect to your following, then your recent post will slip down your followers feed. This means most people might miss your best posts. It’s a vicious cycle, and at times I’ve felt forced into participating, just to be heard. It’s something I hate about Social Media, and myself.
Promotional Comments (Copy and Paste Comments)
Comments are the best part of blogging. Likes are good, but comments feel better. They take a certain amount of effort to create compared to clicking a like button and closing the page. As a content creator, I prefer more comments to more likes, but the ease of one compared to the other explains why most posts receive more likes than comments. Their apparent rarity adds to their allure. I worked hard to create this post and merely commenting lets me feel that people care. It doesn’t matter what you say, as long as you’ve said something. In short, I love comments. I appreciate and value every piece of feedback regardless of length or the complimentary language the writer uses. A simple emoji can be enough sometimes.
It’s essential to explain the value I place on comments to introduce this section because some people use the comments section to promote their own sites. I’m not against promotion. Marketing’s part and parcel of the fabric of life. Stitched and woven into our modern world. I have a post promoting my friend. I’d happily write an article without anything in return, about my most engaged readers or blogs or vlogs I enjoy reading or watching. I love writing, and what’s better than writing about something else you love?
I posted a poem on a greyish background with no image. One user left, the following comment. Nice use of light and shadow check out my page. There were a few emoji. I deleted the comment. Where was the light? Where was the shadow?
The problem is the selfishness, often stupidity of the comments. These copied snippets lack originality and overlook the content they’re written beneath. It makes a mockery of the sacrosanct section reserved for those who enjoyed a post. There’s nothing more frustrating than thinking you’ve created something engaging only to discover an ignorant self-idolising amateur who hasn’t bothered with the post has left a comment.
My Life’s Better Than Yours! You Make It Look Good, But We Make It Fun.
I’ve always known influencers portrayed a particular aspect of their fabulous lives. My best friend’s a photographer, and I’ve sat beside him as he plans his shots and I’ve seen the effort he spends trying to capture the beauty within a perfect image. I do this as a writer, too. I write a lot of nonsense and edit it until it flows and makes sense. Being good at anything involved creating a lot of rubbish and finding the parts that make sense. That’s art.
Influencers specially design images intended for mass likes. The hashtag #livingmybestlife suggest your life isn’t good enough if you aren’t hanging over the edge of a cliff. I’ve done it, you’re missing out, but trust me, it wasn’t the highlight of my life. You can’t trust or judge happiness displayed in a picture. Instagrammers spend hours choosing outfits to wear in front of iconic scenery. I’ve seen it all over the world.
In Da Nang, Vietnam, William Steel and I sat in a beach bar, drinking beer watching people laughing and running around on the sand as waves crashed against the shore. We sat there for hours and made our way through a few beers, watching a beautiful young woman as she posed with her back against the tree and looking away from the ocean. She kept this pose for an hour. She walked on to the beach, leant against her tree, spent an hour posing and when she found a shot, she was happy, she left. We didn’t see her beneath blue skies and enjoying the beach again. She ignored the cool blue water.
I don’t take many pictures, but people I travel with do and like to keep them as memories. There’s nothing wrong with that. The problem is, the same girl from the beach probably posted about her day at the beach with a comment about sand getting everywhere, despite not spending any time enjoying the beach. There’s no Instagram worthy picture of me and my friends time at the beach. We were enjoying a beer and the view. Should your stunning image degrade our memories? No.
Blocked for Disagreement (Let’s Pretend this Problem Doesn’t Exist)
Nothing polarises us more than Politics. Trust me, I know, I’m British. Half of my country voted to leave the EU, and the others voted to remain, yet within the respective camps, there’s a division. There’s a reason behind the highly charged nature of politics though, even if it seems irrational. Both sides believe they’re arguing over something they think will affect their lives. In truth, no one among the civilian population, or any of the political elite know what will or won’t happen in 6 months, let alone 60 years.
I’d love to tell you what side I voted for, but whatever side it was, someone might decide my blog doesn’t deserve a spot on the free web. Critics will rubbish my blog and banish it to the dark web where people will stumble upon on my writing journey as they look to score Heroin or a gun online. I know, I’m overreacting, but that’s the reality today. If you don’t agree with me, I’ve committed some unforgivable crime even if it isn’t enough for the courts can’t prosecute me. Well, then I’d have lost twice — both for merely having the least popular opinion.
I believe if you dislike someone based off of their differing political opinions, then it says more about you than it does them. In the west, we like to laud our advanced civilisation as we preach it’s superiority to nations we deem lesser. For all the talk of freedom and democracy, we spend a lot of our time silencing our enemies and accusing them of stupidity when they say something we don’t agree with. Even the leader of the so-called free world is at it, claiming everything he doesn’t support is fake news.
Get a grip. If you come across something on Social Media you don’t like, get over it. If someone criticises a war, don’t accuse them of disrespecting the military. Soldiers serve in the name of freedom. Not on the side of liberalism, or conservatism, but for the right for its people to say whatever it wants to in 140 characters or less, regardless of who finds it offensive. Too often, we block users without trying to understand them. Then, when the unthinkable happens such as a shock referendum result, or the election of an inexperienced right-wing billionaire, we act surprised. How did this happen in our liberal paradise? Well, you blocked every hint of the inevitable.
All Criticism is Trolling
When I began researching ways to spread your blogs name, I discovered that word of mouth aided by interaction on Social Media was the best way forward. I used WordPress and read every post that appeared in my reader. There were some fantastic articles, but there were many more articles that while not terrible, were certainly in need of improvement. I wanted to comment more on these posts, but I couldn’t bring myself to post my opinion.
There’s something about a “great post” comment that feels ingenuine. Sure, I liked it, but I can’t figure out what I liked about it. I just enjoyed reading; I didn’t stop to consider the technical aspects of the written piece. However, when I read something unenjoyable, I’m able to pinpoint the problems with the article. I know why I don’t want to continue reading. But I can’t let you know the issues without facing criticism.
Everyone has an ego online, unpublished authors, and bloggers without audiences. Everyone thinks they know best, and when told something different they react with fury. The name-calling begins. I’m okay with that, I can mud sling with the best of them, but I don’t want to sell my name in that way online. My comment was supposed to help you as a writer, not to start a campaign against me and my blog, which is open to critique simply by its presence on a public domain. But we live in a Social Media bubble where everyone has to be kind and positive. As a result, none of us improves our craft.
“I love your writing, check out mine if you have the time.”
The best form of marketing is marketing that doesn’t feel like marketing, or so the adage goes. A juice company ran mu favourite ad campaign a few years ago. Their tag line had red you’re thirsty, and we’ve got sales targets. It was brazen and a straightforward call to action. To me, it felt like a breath of fresh air and respite from the subtle marketers sneaking into our lives and weaving themselves a part of our daily lives.
As much as I idolised their campaign, I never brought a drop of the company’s juice. I respected the honesty in the posters, but I was more inclined in to search the names of my loved ones on Coca-Cola bottles and build an empire out of plastic. Both forms of marketing invite consumers to products in a friendly way but openly asking a person to take a vested interest in you or your brand.
I see it a lot on Instagram. People post a long comment with a tiny nod of appreciation towards my picture and then leave a full-length paragraph to why I should check out their page. That’s an instant turnoff. The irony is, the comment itself would be enough for me to check out your page. A human interest, a creative interest, a curious interest, but a dedicated selfish paragraph that wreaks of desperation usually leads to me tutting out loud on the tube and closing the app. You want anyone to interact with you, interact with them like you would in the pub. Social Media shouldn’t be a world without social etiquette. Come on, people.
If I had to label my pollical views, they’d probably fit underneath a liberal umbrella. I don’t fill particularly attached to the left as a part of my identity, but I read widely and spend my time with people different to me, which has greatened my understanding of my world. That’s not to say that those with conservative views are somehow lesser than me or hold the wrong beliefs. I mean by definition; an opinion can’t be wrong. For me, I support whatever makes sense.
I don’t see what purpose racism, sexism or homophobia serve other than as a scapegoat to broader social policy, as we regularly see with discussions around immigration. It’s foolish to suggest that everyone who fits a particular condition can be branded with the same brush. I mean if 1.8 billion Islam followers were western hating terrorists, we’d all be dead. But they’re not. I’ve met too many kind Muslims to count or list, but I’ve never met a fanatic, let alone a committed terrorist. To suggest all Muslims are evil is abhorrent and shouldn’t be accepted by our society.
Likewise, gay sex never harmed anyone, and black people don’t kill as many people as our media suggests but will all the noise made online by the alt-right and the manic left who try to justify their lunacy, it’s easy to believe we live in a world full of danger. Fewer people now die due to war. The problem isn’t our safety, but the reason we fight these wars.
Here’s the truth, we live online. If someone says something we disagree with, twitter and erupts and calls for society to cancel their human identity. We live a world of supposed free speech, yet we can’t speak out minds without retribution. We have no way of separating truth from jest, or expression from hatred.
Now, while tweeting our outrage in 140 characters or less, cancelling, blocking and obscuring everything we dislike from view, we convince ourselves that everything is rosy. The skies are blue, tree’s blossom and everybody gets along. The world is perfect. There are no black children lost to the trigger-happy police, no homophobia on public transport, and rape has all been forgotten. We forget what we can’t see. We live happily. Every day the sun shines, and we unravel blankets in the park and tuck into an avocado and hummus sandwich on wholemeal gluten-free bread.
Then one day, we wake up to grey skies.
They’ve unravelled progress — thread by thread.
Thanks for reading my rant. Don’t forget to share on the Social Networks I profess to hate and subscribe for more content.