Artwork by Eli Cantor
In many circumstances, humans appreciate feedback, critique, and affirmation on our work; it makes us feel happy about what we’ve accomplished. However, the need for affirmation, particularly when it comes to social media, has led to an unhealthy obsession with validation.
We are giving others too much power to determine our own validation. It has come to a time Our peers are beginning to dictate our lives using social media in order to do so. Take an Instagram post or a Facebook status for example. We are all guilty of continuously checking who liked and commented on our post. Why, though? Why are we letting others set standards that we feel obligated to meet?
To answer that question, we must separate the “good” side of social media from the “bad” side. Primarily, the use of social media was intended for people to connect with others and the surrounding world. From social media, we have learned to expose ourselves to society and discover an interest online that we didn’t know about before. Despite the initial benefits of social media, there has been a rapid negative shift that has brought out the qualities of social media’s “bad” side.
This “bad” side, consists of likes, comments, retweets, favorites, friends, followers, subscribers, and shares. As soon as we post a picture (we all know we are guilty of this), we ask things like: “Why have I only gotten 40 likes in 50 minutes?” or, “I’m so happy he commented on my picture — I knew they liked me!” In society today, we don’t post pictures for ourselves. We post for others, or to get others to notice what we uploaded. To me, this sounds a little damaged. Why, all of a sudden, is social media becoming about what others think? Wasn’t the initial usage created to connect positively with people?
Yet it is 2016; there is not much we can do to turn back in the other direction and ignore what is happening around us. The days of the “good” side of social media are past us. Now it is all about refreshing our page to see what others are saying.
Today, one-third of American teenagers check within seconds to see if their posts have received any comments, likes, or any sort of affirmation, said by Defy Media. Thirty-eight percent claim to feel discouraged if responses aren’t given quick enough. Validation drives our social media use, and it is not stopping anytime soon.
In our changing world, we can only hope this need for affirmation slows down. Unfortunately the buildup and social media apps will only worsen this pressing issue. It is up to us, the technology-filled generation, to stop looking for validation in the wrong areas and start looking for it in the better ones.
By Emma Gottsegen