Likes, comments, shares, re-tweets — these are the things that dictate our generation. Admittedly, the degree to which you are affected by these notifications compared to someone else may not be equal — it probably isn’t — but the fact remains that for almost all of us, that little flash of virtual approval, or disapproval, dictates our moods.
That’s where it starts, and also where things get dangerous.
In a very simplified statement — what you see and interact with each moment determines your mood. This will change constantly, depending on those interactions. From here, your mood affects your demeanor — the way you carry yourself, the way you think when you see other people, the decisions you make, and most importantly, your own confidence.
The moment that your self-confidence drops, your ability to execute difficult tasks disappears, despite that you may have been perfectly capable of doing that task 10 minutes earlier. The spark that sent your mood plummeting down causes you to sink your shoulders, lower your head and truly believe that you can’t.
As I mentioned earlier, however, moods are not permanent. We cannot be ‘permanently’ happy, primarily because it would require too much energy from within us — more than we can naturally and typically produce, and, secondly, because if we were forever ‘happy,’ then our level of happiness becomes normal. Thus, it is no longer classified as ‘happy’ at all.
So what does it mean if our moods are dictated by electronic signals that alert our senses to supposed ‘compliments and critiques’ of ourselves? How does this affect us over an extended amount of time?
Let’s say you post a picture of your super-cute and totally Instagram-worthy breakfast from the local café, edited perfectly and cropped to perfection. When you check your Instagram that night, you’ve got 72 likes — about 30 less than you get on most of your other photos. You instantly feel let down by this so-called ‘result.’ Why didn’t people like it? Did I choose the wrong filter? Did my breakfast not look that great after all? Is it because I posted too much recently, or at the wrong time of day? You continue to question this photo as if you were questioning your own life plan, and, in turn, forget to consider the smallest, most significant detail — it’s a photo of some food you ate, not of you. You didn’t even make the food.
Yet still, the likes for your scrambled eggs seem to correlate directly to whether or not people like you. This rationale is ridiculous, yet, somehow, it’s become engrained in the subconscious of our generation.
And so we reach the answer to our earlier question, although I’m sure you already know. The more often you post photos that do or do not receive a certain level of accolade, whatever level that may be for you, your mood declines. Disappointment, confusion, sadness, perhaps even a degree of embarrassment. Naturally, with the drop in your mood comes the dampening of your own self-confidence. You cannot in that moment truly believe or say that you don’t care about the ‘likes’ because you do. If you don’t, then that’s great, but let me ask you something: If you really don’t care about the likes, why did you check them in the first place?
Over time, we selectively adjust. We adjust to feeling insecure about ourselves, to searching for better photos today, then tomorrow, then the day after. We adjust to tallying ‘likes’ as ‘worth’ and ‘worth’ and ‘happiness’. What we do not adjust to, however, is that constant drop in our mood. That moment when we are so sure that this photo will strike gold, compared to that moment when we realize that, for some reason, it hasn’t.
Moods are natural and occur within us for a reason. We can’t adjust to them because we shouldn’t be able to adjust to them.
But it is my opinion that if you constantly experience drops in your mood caused by the same trigger each time, be it any form of social media, you’d be a fool to continue using it. You’d be setting yourself up for failure. So work backwards. Give yourself the self-respect and pride and confidence you deserve and already have in order to beat the spark before it can be created. Love yourself enough to delete that platform of social media, turn off notifications, stop posting, like other peoples’ photos more, or do something to give yourself the best shot at being truly happy.
You will find that confidence changes your life. It makes you more open, positive, uplifted, receptive, inclusive, loving and authentic than ever. It brings out the parts of you that not even you knew lay beneath those subtle, high-stimulated, highly-dependent insecurities.
You can choose how you feel in the long term, by controlling what you do in the short term.
And I encourage you all to do just that.