Social media is often defined as, “People having 2-way conversations online.” Yet, more and more it would appear, platforms such as Facebook are being utilized for autonomous communiqués – to the disappointment, even resentment, of other users, friends and followers. A longtime friend of mine recently posted of being tired of incessantly positive posts portraying perpetually ‘sunny skies’ and eternally wonderful lives. A recent academic report shows she is not alone.
Earlier this year, Reuters reported on a study by two German universities that found that, “Witnessing friend’s vacations, love lives and work successes on Facebook can cause envy and trigger feelings of misery and loneliness.” The findings noted rampant envy on Facebook, which at over one billion users is the world’s largest social medium and produces an unprecedented platform for social comparison.
The researchers, from Humboldt University and Darmstadt’s Technical University, found one in three individuals felt worse and more dissatisfied with their lives after visiting the Facebook with vacation photos the biggest trigger of resentment. Social interaction was the second most common cause of envy including how many birthday greetings they received or how many ‘likes’ were garnered for posts of all types – a dynamic no doubt exacerbated by the fact that, post IPO, Facebook no longer sends out all posts to all friends.
So why do we post what we post? Well, social media obviously means different things for different people. For some, it is an online life scrapbook. For others, it is a means by which to communicate business and personal trials and triumphs to friends and family on a widespread basis. What should we be posting? That is perhaps the toughest question of all as it depends on the desired end result. If you are posting for yourself, post whatever you want. However, if you want your thoughts and news to be noticed and appreciated by others, what you post should provide some type of value. “TGIF” and “Oh no, it’s another Monday” are the antithesis of this. Best rule of thumb: Be positive but, more importantly, be genuine and yourself.