As someone who spends realistically 75% of his time on Facebook, it may seem contradictory to say that I hate social media. But the truth is that I do; I hate social media in the same way I hate ice cream for making me fat. I think it’s a poisonous thing that promotes and celebrates self-indulgence and inauthentic behavior, and I think it has turned our social lives and friendships into charades that we have to keep up for our audiences.
It’s not a novel thing to say that social media gives us all inflated egos; Facebook and Instagram are basically the closest thing most of us will ever get to being on reality TV, and we all just love to post photos and share things that make us seem cooler and help us accrue more social capital. Whenever we post something to Instagram or Facebook, we do so knowing full well that others will see that message. When I write a funny post on a friend’s Facebook wall, I know that it will be seen by other people, and that there is a very real chance they will chime in on it. And I think that’s okay, I think that it is okay to flaunt a friendship, especially if you and your friend are publicly viewed as some dynamic duo or something. What I don’t think is okay, however, is doing that with someone you’ve been a shitty friend to. If you haven’t spoken to someone in months, it’s not okay to just post a photo of you and them to Instagram. It’s not okay to publicly put them in a compromising position by forcing them to make a choice between looking like an asshole by ignoring your artificial post and lying to keep up public appearances.
Social media was built for weak ties and artificial bonds. We’re all used to liking each other’s posts, and favoriting things we don’t actually care about, just because it’s an easy way to look good. And maybe it’s just the senile old man in me, but I just don’t feel particularly compelled to pretend things are different than how they actually are. If I’m not friends with someone in real life, I don’t want to act like I’m their BFF on Facebook. If someone invites me to their birthday party, a party I don’t plan on actually attending, I’m not going to write “HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU TONIGHT” because it’s dishonest. If you’re going to showboat, showboat something that is real. If you’re going to promote yourself, promote your talents or the things that you’re involved. At the end of the day it isn’t worth pretending to be something that you’re not, nor is right to expect recognition for something that doesn’t merit it. And if I’m right, which I usually am, people don’t actually give a fuck about what you’re doing with your life, so instead of spending your time pretending to be friends with a person, go read a book or donate to UNICEF or something.