Tag Archives: facebook

Buzzwords: Social Media and Validation

Edit: I wrote and published this on Oct. 2nd but left it password protected while I thought about it. The irony of that and how in some ways it is almost, “Overcome by Events” is not lost on me.

Harmless game, right? In the moment, it probably is. In the grand scheme of things, is this kind of data mining really going to impact your life? Probably not on any noticeable level.

But it has and will impact you on an emotional level. This shouldn’t be news to you. It isn’t to me, but it hit me this morning in a painful and profound way.

Here’s what it has done that I find more insidious. It has taken the world of psychology and biology and

  1. distorted the definitions and understanding of the terms used therein and
  2. injured or exacerbated our fears about self-worth and wellness such that we constantly seek validation.

Let me preface the rest of this with the admission that I too have played these FB games, but not because I thought it would reveal me as a narcissist/empath/sociopath/ADHD/neurodivergent or even none of those things. I played these games to see what FB game logic looked like. On more than one occasion I played the same game multiple times and got wildly different answers. Not surprising given it is data mining and the results of these “tests” are largely random. Some are a little more sophisticated and give marginally fact-based results.

When I saw this particular test, I noticed that its premise has absolutely nothing to do with anything. You aren’t selecting an image that has any meaning (usually one sees landscapes, animals, or flowers). The images are in no way symbolically associated with the month and months in no way determine personality. (If you believe in Astrology, I’m not here to fight you. I’m a scientist by training. I need empirical data.)

So…I saw the test and was curious. When FB got hung up and didn’t give me an answer, I got bored. Then, I started thinking about this test and the many I have seen like it. A switch flipped in my brain; perhaps because I am constantly processing my last thirty-seven years.

Let’s talk about 1 above, first.

Narcissist is a medical term. Yes, it has a common meaning, but when used in the context of these tests, that isn’t where the miners are aiming. They are aiming for the medical (DSM-5) definition of narcissist (Narcissistic Personality Disorder or NPD). This is important because when we throw this word around and diagnose each other or even ourselves with any medical condition, we are at risk of [getting it all wrong 😊].

I get it. Truly I do. I get the need to label someone who has hurt us and displayed all those traits of NPD or borderline personality or whatever you think you are dealing with. I get the need to label ourselves to understand ourselves better. I don’t say ignore that potential diagnosis. I say, acknowledge and deal with the behavior as you must for survival. You may well be spot on.

My concern is with the petty or indiscriminate use of medical terms in social media. The more we use these terms without valid diagnoses or credentials, the more these terms are weakened in the collective mind. The more prevalent these terms become on social media, the more we see them as ways of diminishing each other. “You are [insert label here] so you are not worth my effort to connect/communicate with].” Who can forget the rallying cry, “F*** your feelings!”

Again, I’m not fussing at those of us who are coping with hurtful people in our lives. As I said, acknowledge and deal with or escape that behavior. Don’t let it hurt you.

So where do these tests fit in and why was it so striking for me?

We arrive at 2. Social media, like Facebook and Tiktok, seeks to validate us thereby winning our constant participation. These tests hurt us in their blasé approach to medical diagnoses. In giving us pat answers about complex questions, they speak to our fear and our innate need for validation.

“Are you a NARCISSIST?”

Your brain screams: NO! Of course not. I’m a good and empathetic person. Here! I’ll prove it by clicking on this image.”

(Clicks)

“See! It says I’m empathetic and loving and a whole bunch of other stuff I need to believe about myself because I’m not getting the validation I need from (elsewhere).”

Then there’s this one.

“Are you an EMPATH?” it screams.

Well, you think you are, but now you’re not so sure. You must prove that you are. So, you click that button under the pretty image of the ocean instead of the one of the mountain, because oceans mean empathy, right?

“Why yes! Yes, you ARE an empath.”

Except, and this is one I’ve tested, had you clicked on the mountain, the river, the dark, scary cave, the long, blacktop road to nowhere, the bouncing ball on the playground…any of the pictures provided, the test would have told you, “Why yes! Yes, you ARE an empath!”

Why? Because the test is not a test for empathy but of your willingness to part with data for your fix. If you are given anything but the answer you crave, you won’t continue to let them mine your data.

I don’t care one whit about your data being mined. That’s not the purpose of this post.

I care that you, like I, are seeking validation in a post on FB. I care that in so doing, you get that momentary high that dissipates as quickly as you got it and has you seeking more within minutes: validation you will also reach for by posting pretty pictures or stupid memes. (guilty) Validation you will seek from junk people in your life instead of finding it in your own heart. I care that this medium, more than any I believe humans have created thus far, because of its immediacy and ease, has stoked this fire of validation addiction* beyond recovery.

That I am putting this on my Facebook page is, indeed, some hypocrisy. That it belongs here, remains true.

That this struck me so hard this morning that I had to write about it immediately and then examine my own methods of seeking validation (not just social media) is a bit of a shock to my system.

I am hoping that no one reading this feels this to be an attack. I have played these games and required this validation a dozen times. And before you come back with “it’s just a harmless game,” it has always been that to me, as well.

It was until this morning, when years of being accused of one flaw or another came to a boil in one silly, harmless game.

I, you, none of us needs validation from social media.

Or anyone else.

*I am leery of posting links to any of the DSM-5 terms as I do not wish to add to the problems surrounding diagnosis or self-diagnosis. I strongly urge anyone who feels they or a loved one needs help in any area mentioned above seek counsel with a licensed professional. Note: many, if not most, church counselors are not licensed and have no psychology or medical background.

Health, Hope, and Mud-Dung Candy: Living in the Present

I came away from Facebook for a few weeks. I logged back in a few times not because I wanted to, but because I had to log in to some other damn this or that I had linked to (Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) at one time or another. And because every time I tried to do this one thing on my iPhone it splattered a warning on my phone that said I had to log into my Facebook account without explaining why, even though what I was doing hadn’t a damn thing to do with Facebook (or Instagram, or Pinterest, or etc.) .

I just wanted a rest. I didn’t like disconnecting from my friends and family, so I kept Messenger connected. Funny thing: It was hard for me to escape Messenger conversations prior to deactivating my Facebook account. After deactivating, I’d go two or three days without Messenger contact.  I didn’t mind the sudden “radio silence,” of course. It was just interesting. Out of sight, out of mind, I guess. I seem to be living in that phrase lately. If I stay away from television, Facebook, news sites, and even other people, I’m much happier. So, maybe it should be, “out of site, out of mind.”

I’m not suggesting being uninformed or disengaging entirely from the world. If anything, people like me need to engage and speak up in these times. However, I do think there is wisdom in first taking stock of what is healthy and unhealthy for each of us. What I found in my last few days before I first deactivated my main account, was that click bait, blaring headlines, and well-meant but unwanted hand-patting were unhealthy.

Below is a capture I found that illustrates one aspect of why I stepped away.img_0506 It isn’t really that the news is “fake” so much as that it is distorted. News bloggers (I don’t like calling them writers; half of them can barely compose a proper sentence.) take a grain of truth, layer mud and dung on it, coat it in sugar syrup, then wrap it in some pretty paper and call it “news.” We gobble that shit up. Empty calories with a dose of disease.

That disease was taking too much out of me each time I confronted it. Each time my friends and family confronted it, I worried how much it took and continues to take out of them.

I also began to look back on last year with immense sadness. I lost two of the loves of my life, my Momma and Daddy. With each new loss (oh, so many) of my generational icons, it felt like the world was just slipping away and I too would be slipping away with it sooner rather than later. This is what some people don’t understand about getting older and watching your heroes die. If they are so lucky as to get older, they will perhaps understand that looking at such loss is also looking at one’s own mortality. It’s selfish, perhaps, but as natural a part of grief as the sadness.

My grief brought on the old familiar frustration of not having accomplished the things I’d wanted to accomplish in life and fear of not having time to accomplish them. I looked ahead into an ugly future that would possibly be even further truncated. I lost hope. People attempted to give me hope with platitudes and religion, neither of which are any comfort to a skeptic in grief.

It isn’t that I don’t believe in a Something. Most days. I simply don’t believe it will hold us up above the flames. I have been in the flames plenty of times. I have also had great joy. I have been exceptionally fortunate. I am thankful, for sure. I recognize all the good things I have in life. But the good does not preclude the pain, sadness, grief, anger, disappointment, outrage. I am allowed those. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that repressing my emotions is at the top of the “unhealthy” list for me. I will continue to wail and cry when I am in pain. I will smile and laugh when I am genuinely happy.

I have found what is healthy for me.  In no particular order: 1) Dealing with my emotions on my schedule, with tools I choose, not what others set out for me. 2) Cutting out ugly television. No more Criminal Minds, SVU, war movies, or any such shows/movies. I’m tired of real people hurting each other. Why should I watch fictional people hurt each other? 3)Time with my family. 4) Time with my dog. 5) Time at the page. 6) Time with nature. 7) Time in the rhythm of my breath. 8) Each Present Moment. It’s a concept that’s hard to fully appreciate after fifty-two years of looking behind me and feeling regret and looking ahead and anticipating failure. But, I appreciate it a little more each day. With that appreciation comes the realization that I don’t need hope, I simply need to be and do. I think number 8 wraps up numbers 1 through 7.

To continue to appreciate the present moment, I must continue to live in it. To live in it, I must also forego the diseased mud-dung candy on Facebook. I do hope that those of you who aren’t already following my “author’s” page  will do so. Someone (thank you, Carol) has kindly accepted the task of keeping a casual eye on that page for me. As before, my Messenger will remain available. Until I’ve reached a point that peace comes readily when I encounter the mud-dung candy, my personal page is going to go dormant in a couple of days. It’s simply to easy to react to links. This dormancy could be two weeks or two years. Who’s to say? Also, grandchildren override EVERYTHING and must occasionally be afforded a log-in.

This is not a plea for attention, nor am I isolating. I’ll be on Instagram, still. I’m just bowing out of this particular spiritual poison.

I’m closing with a video I posted some weeks ago. I play this song often which means I cry often. There is method in that madness. Each time, this song reminds me not so much of what I’ve lost (though there is that) but what is important to me. Some things “got lost along the way” in the last thirty-five years, give or take, as they do for a lot of us. I’ve determined, at fifty-two years old, the only way to get them back is to live in the present moment. From my heart to yours.