Social Media Networking is not for the feint hearted!
As a mother of a teenage daughter, I worry about the negative impact social media has on her self esteem and relationships: That pressure to post glorious selfies on intsagram; to like everyone’s posts; to be liked; being purposefully excluded or included into group chats. The relational aggression of teenage girls is grim.
It’s not as overt as bullying but its effects can be as damaging. Girls controlling friendship groups by inclusion or exclusion of others, rumour spreading and gossip and intimidation – especially on social media. I’ve seen it happen. I’ve often suggested that she remove herself from group chats or stays away for a few days. I have failed to understand how it makes her feel and why she still engages…. But now I think I understand!
Playing the Social Media Networking game
I am trying to grow a business on-line. It’s hard to get noticed. On-line is a very busy place! I made a terrible mistake. I tried too hard to get noticed. I chased the instagram dream! I was over the moon for the first like on my facebook business page. When I reached 100 I felt it was a real achievement. I finally joined instagram and I have struggled to get followers. I don’t really get how it works. I think I am too old!
I love my website. I love the things I make and sell. I’m not computer savvy enough to get found on google searches. When I got a random sale after posting a picture on instagram, I got a glimse of the powers of social media to promote my art and I started actively chasing likes. I joined a social media networking site. The principle is ‘You like me, I’ll like you back’. There are various activities. Like 5 photos of each page that comments on the status, or leave 5 comments, or for instagram – follow me, I’ll follow you back. It felt exciting for your page likes to go up 600% in a month. I engaged. I left my comments. In the process, I even found one page selling gorgeous personalized gifts and purchased something for a friend who has just had a baby. I thought it was great. I had new business page friends and we liked each other and we shared the love.
I joined a couple more networking pages – all incestuously interlinked. I was ready to spread love all over the place. Then I left a comment on someone’s page post with only 3 words not 5. I got reported. There was a public reminder on the thread to play fair. An admin post followed. It reminded people to play by the rules and play fair. People joined in. One person – the page I’d short changed by 2 words chimed in. Others did too. They talked about cheats. They said no one will ever buy from cheats. I wasn’t mentioned personally but my mistake was behind the post. Suddenly I had a real glimpse of what teenage girls experience on social media.
Fake it til you make it?
I decided to put it down to experience and crack on, after all, I was getting likes! I joined a post that required each page to follow each other’s instagram pages and like 5 pictures. I diligently worked my way down the list. The activity closed and two people hadn’t done their bit and one other hadn’t liked 5 pictures. I did what others had done when I erred. I reminded them!!!! The absolute fucking audacity of that action had not occurred to me. I was a newby! I got told off. Publicly. I got told that admin sort out those who do not play fair. I got cheeky and pointed out that it was admin who had not finished the activity. This did not go down well at all. People were tagged. There was more condemnation. Apparently even though the activity was supposed to be finished at 8am, there was a 24 hour leeway. I didn’t know! I got stressed. I got upset. I felt humiliated. I left the groups. I suddenly understood the miserable social media lives of teenagers!
My inner voice had already told me I was a cheat. Not in the ‘two words short of a full compliment’ way but in terms of integrity. The likes aren’t real. When I started this networking, I looked at people’s pages. I only liked photos I actually liked. I even bought something! I realized though, it wasn’t the game. It is not about real likes. It is about numbers. Just like our daughters – they aren’t real friends they have on social media, that is soon apparent the second you break any of the rules – all unwritten, all designed to find a victim to strengthen everyone else’s virtual social status. I broke some elusive rules and learned some absolutes. Never chase fake likes and never dis the admin. No good will come of it!
After leaving all the network groups I glimpsed what teenage girls feel. I worried that after I had left people would continue to talk about me. There were several notifications that I could no longer look at. I panicked that my beautiful facebook page would be targeted with negativity. What if I lost the 150 hard won and genuine likes I had before 600% boost?
I can see why people stay, conform, play the likes game, and get depressed on Social Media. I can see why our daughters need lots of real love, real compliments and support because when it’s fake it is worse than no likes at all!
Since writing this I have decided that the best ‘likes’ are the ones I get from sharing something I have made and love. ‘Organic’ likes are best. Thank you to everyone who likes and shares what I do. You don’t have to buy something to help small businesses grow – just like and share when you see something worth liking and sharing.