You get ready for class, feeling confident about how you look. You spent a little extra time picking out an outfit, and maybe put on more makeup than usual. As you walk through campus, people are coming up behind you and tapping you twice, proclaiming, “I like you!” They then stick stars all over your body, and maybe a retweet symbol. A cute guy walks by and says, “I’m totally swiping you right.” Throughout the day, you may change your look, or say something funny which elicits even more responses from people. The double taps on your shoulder continue. The stars taped on your body accumulate. If you’re lucky, someone might come up to you and say, “Hey, we’re a match! What’s up cutie?”
Welcome to social media.
If you don’t hit 20 likes on Instagram, was it even Instagram worthy in the first place? You spend countless minutes mindfully crafting a clever tweet, only for it to get a single favorite. Do people not think you’re funny? You can easily proclaim your love for your best guy friend through Yik Yak, but the mere thought of telling him how you actually feel makes you cringe.
You feel comfortable hiding behind the shield that society has come to create: social media. A society that has created the like to minute Instagram ratio a real thing, a society that has encouraged us to find confidence and self assurance in all the wrong places.
I recently read an article about how we are addicted to the “like.” The “like” has some sort of hold on us, and we use it to define our self worth. The article claims, “We experience withdrawals. We are so driven by this drug, getting just one hit elicits truly peculiar reactions.” It was compared to smoking crack cocaine. “Addicted to social media” seems to be an antiquated phrase. Now, we are no longer addicted to the social media itself, we are addicted to the reactions that our participation in social media elicits. Getting a “<3” on our Instagram picture has come to define something more than just tap on a screen, it defines how we feel about ourselves. Popularity isn’t defined by how many beers you can drink on the weekends, it’s defined by how many people interact on your social media pages.
“Why did Leah get 40 more likes than I did? It was the same exact picture. People must like her more than they like me.”
The power of the “like” destroys our self confidence. It makes us wonder why we ever thought that selfie was post-worthy in the first place. You thought that you looked half-decent in it (even though you filtered the sh*t out of it), but apparently your 600+ followers didn’t think so. It only gets 9 likes in 45 minutes, how embarrassing.
I’m a new user to Yik Yak. I haven’t posted any Yaks, but beyond the mind numbing posts about a UMass student’s rap video, there are posts about not having the confidence to tell a guy how they feel, a relationship that they simply aren’t happy with, or deprecating comments about themselves. Yik Yak is all anonymous, and users interact with these people crying out for advice. I saw one post last night that read “Why don’t guys like me? I’m not sexy by any means but I’m cute.” People replied with things like “You are beautiful!” “You should have more self confidence!” I’m sure this gave provided her with some relief, and maybe gave her the confidence she’s seeking for a moment, but I’m sure it didn’t last.
Keep in mind that Instagram, Yik Yak, Facebook, Twitter, etc., are all man made, socially constructed apps. Self-confidence isn’t. So let’s stop putting the two in the same category. We spend our time searching for reassurance about our looks, our sense of humor, and our “like-ability,” all while deteriorating it in the mean time.
Why are we looking to our followers, or complete strangers to define our self worth?
If you didn’t swipe my picture right on Tinder, I’m ugly.
I’m going to take 10+ selfies on Snapchat before sending it to my crush, hoping he’ll think I look good and Snapchat me back.
I can’t wait to Instagram this picture of my 20 pound weight loss, but, wait, it only got 30 likes, I need to lose more weight.
Don’t look to Yik Yak users for confidence, or advice about an abusive relationship. Confiding in anonymous strangers has become the norm, because it’s easier. It’s easier to confide in people who don’t know you, and don’t know the situation. They’ll always take your side, because if they don’t, they’ll look like an asshole. However, these anonymous strangers won’t give you the answers you need; they’ll give you the answers you want. They’ll make you feel better maybe for a little bit, but it won’t last. Have the power to look within yourself for confidence. Don’t let others define your self worth, define it yourself. A double tap is mindless and impersonal. Let’s not be mindless and impersonal. Let’s be confident. Let’s redefine society.
Let’s redefine the “like.” Let’s take the power away from it and redefine how we feel about ourselves. Let’s look for our self confidence beyond something that requires a simple double tap on a screen. Let’s show that you are beautiful, you are worthy of someone loving you, and you are NOT defined by how many people “like” you. If a guy can swipe you right, he should also be able to look you in the eye and tell you why he did.
Let’s stop letting a double tap make us feel beautiful.