Something was on my mind recently, really nagging at me. I was doing some work online, Facebook was open, and I had the strongest urge to turn my feelings into some generalized, probably passive aggressive advice. A voice in my head said, “I’ll just type it on Facebook and get it out of my system.”
I started typing, when a voice in my gut just said, “NO.”
I thought more about the countless times I’d seen friends directly or indirectly call someone out Facebook , and how all of them either got really negative feedback or incited an argument. We’re certainly old enough to know better, so why do we have the urge to do it anyway?
- Social media easy and available. Almost 20% of the time people are online, they are visiting Facebook. It’s so available and common for us to post every thought and whim that we’re using it as a default form of communication. It’s less intimidating than dealing with people face to face!
- You don’t have to immediately deal with the repercussions of your words and actions. If you’ve looked at the comments section of any webpage ever, you’ve probably seen people posting things they would NEVER say in person — but the person on the end of that aggressive Facebook post is real, even if you can’t see them.
- We rely on the crowd-sourcing effect. It’s appealing to have people validate you with “likes” and supportive comments. Social media allows us to go online, air our grievances and involve others in a private matter simply to use the support of others like a weapon. In reality, having validation doesn’t make you right or someone else wrong.
- We need to get the bad feelings out. It’s totally normal to feel like we need to get something off our chests, but let’s not make Facebook the place we do it. A website is no replacement for confidants.
Maybe, like me, you’re nodding your head a little, seeing your struggle in one of these scenarios — maybe even all of them. When we have a ball of emotion just taking up space in our hearts, we use logic to justify some pretty self-destructive behaviors. Maybe you never thought about those posts as self destructive, but your words are published and cached as a reflection of you long after the heat of the moment is gone.
The biggest consequence of all is that we rob our relationships of their full potential by using social media as a mediator, a diffuser, or a release.
“The level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection.” — Brené Brown, “Daring Greatly”
When we feel so comfortable putting the Internet between ourselves and another person, we remove ourselves not only from the possibility of heartbreak, but also from the possibility of love, understanding, forgiveness and belonging.
You sacrifice so much by allowing Facebook (or your email, or your phone, or any number of things) to diffuse the heat of a situation. Instead, face your fears and the people you love to sow the seeds of a meaningful relationship.