Do you judge me based on my facebook profile? You should. You should judge how accurately, effectively & engagingly I am able to present my personal brand. Yep. That’s right. Even if you are not a business, or a business person, online: facebook & social media is STILL a Brand.
At the time of writing this my profile picture was of a ginger cat biting a piano… I had gotten sick of being judged by this medium. About a year ago I realized how sickeningly absorbed my identity & sense of self was wrapped up in social. And in my observation, the happiest fb profiles have sometimes belonged to the saddest lives. I didn’t want that to be me. It wasn’t real. I could tell & this lightening crack happened where I needed to separate me from it. I tried to get off completely, but Spotify wouldn’t let me. I took it as a sign to remain, but change. It was then I decided to brand myself online (in a professional capacity) and leave my personal identity to … my personal life!
After a year, I’ve softened into a personal brand. I’m also realizing that the difference between my Self & my avatar was always there, that everyone is actually branding online, and that we really need to understand that when someone sings a song, draws a picture, or posts a status—it’s an expression of their self & not an actual defining moment. In other words, people’s art isn’t WHAT they are, it’s merely WHO they are to the world at large… Facebook pages are no different. They’re a personal brand, a skin colour, not a character or a personality. It’s certainly not a connection—that’s why people don’t change strangers’ minds on fb! Fb itself recognizes this. It’s slogan is “stay” connected, not “get” connected.
Don’t get me wrong. I love fb. I love to cruise through the site giving everyone high-fives, like shooting out a thumbs-up from across the room: “Aw, hey Frank! Nice beard!” *like. And I’m sure many people have wildly active fb profiles and are truly loved and adored irl. I’m a giant fan of having a place people can grab some info about me on their own time and keeping in touch with people I meet from all over. But let’s be clear: your character does not fit into little white-spaced boxes with blue headers. And do not forget, fb was designed by a really neat, smart & talented… sophomore in university. It is software designed with the parameters of what a (19 yo) Mark Zuckerberg cared about. It really doesn’t define you. Or, anyone. It can’t even define Mark Zuckerberg anymore! (He’s cool. Read about him.) Even if it could give us real insight to his character, he wrote the code a decade ago!
I’ve spoken to friends who have existential crises over not getting likes… That’s an issue—social can’t provide any stable sense of identity & I really hope we aren’t judging people by it. I think I got 4 likes on my ginger-cat-eating-piano profile pic? It’s actually character building. To be face-ignored. Because it doesn’t really matter. If we’re going to draw a hierarchy between what matters concerning connection & relationship—fb presence, I hope, is not nearing the top. It’s fun, it’s important in our world, and it’s important (to me) to be authentically presenting myself in a public way … Facebook represents my public self.
A month after I drafted this article, my experience with it backslid a little. It’s a slippery slope, truly. When I opened a new Facebook account and dedicated my social to my public & professional lifestyle I had some minor exceptions to take into consideration, some people didn’t understand the switch, and consideration for them was more important (again) than anything on social. It was excellent switch for me, and tough for any one who counted on my public engagement to be personally connected to me & my life. But all in all it was an excellent move for me—I hadn’t looked back. I felt great about social. A month after writing this & proclaiming my strength in/against social, I noticed a slip—I found myself seeking connection in the app, with all of the invulnerability of being at home in my shell & none of the satisfaction of intimacy. And this habit rerouted me to trying to find personal meaning online again through the very actions I was taking to distance myself from it!
It’s a strange & troubling thing. When we’re reminded of the treacherous gaps in our connection by addiction & depression rates sometimes fatally affecting our communities, it is just so important to me to notice these things. To recalibrate and remember connection, confidence & comfort is found elsewhere. Truly.
It’s now been quite a few months since I initially wrote this… and I’m feeling pretty confident that social is just another form of art. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t think we necessarily judge people on their art aside form perhaps feeling like we’ve glimpsed their souls or their personal message to the world… Indeed, some of the greatest love song writers are the worst at love! We can’t necessarily imagine what people present is the opposite to who they truly are, but in the same vein we can’t really take for granted that we are able to judge who someone is based on their social. I’ve unfollowed people I genuinely enjoy spending time with because I don’t care for their posts at all! I hope that when people meet me, they’d be open to getting to know me. My social definitely reflects parts of me, but it isn’t definitive of my relationship to you personally—it speaks of little but my relationship to the world as a whole. It’s important, perhaps, but it isn’t everything.
Facebook isn’t life. It’s just a tool of the living. Dont judge yourself based on software. It’s inadequate. And please don’t judge me. It’s such a loss to do so—real life is flashing by every moment & so are our chances for confidence, comfort & connection.