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This is Life, Based on a True Story  

The Like-Me Generation

To “Like” or not to “Like,” that is indeed the question.

I’m talking about the Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Snapchat likes-and-views counter. These seemingly harmless numbers have become new measures by which kids — and adults — measure their popularity and in some cases, their worth.

A high number of likes must translate into many people actually liking me, right? That’s what some people think.

Kids are particularly at risk of falling into this trap. Most kids seem to get some form of social media account in the range of 10-13 years of age.

They soon realize the powerful feeling of posting a picture or status update and the heady rush one gets when you see you have dozens or hundreds of likes.

This has actually translated into some kids focusing their time and energy on becoming Internet and social media superstars.

For example, the latest and greatest is creating an Instagram account with tons of followers. For anyone who doesn’t know what Instagram is, it’s a picture-based social media platform.

You can post a picture and use a bunch of different filters to achieve a desired “edit” of the photo. Add a quick caption and a few hashtags, and you could be well on your way to achieving Insta-fame status.

Well, that’s the hope anyway. The reality though is that this type fame is usually reserved for an elite few. The same few who already have celebrity status – celebrities, sports stars and socialites.

So what’s the driving force behind kids (and adults) wanting to do this? It’s a combination of fame, money, and the chance to stand out from the crowd.

It’s hard not to want the perks-and-cash flow that come from getting a product endorsement. Look at any celebrity Instagram account and they’re littered with advertising from various sources.

The vendors know that to get their product to the forefront of people’s minds, they need someone perceived as successful to push it. They pay the celebrity to endorse it on their social media accounts because these people have millions of followers watching their every move, post and status update.

The most attractive thing about this set-up to a vulnerable kid is that you don’t need any special talent to do this. You just need to post a photo or funny one-liner and get enough people to share and like it.

But as with anything that seems to good to be true, this scheme has more than its fair share of negativity. The No. 1 being that anyone can follow you or your kid. And I mean anyone.

Now, I could go on about the dangers of the Internet at this point, but I’d rather take a different path and give you something else to think about.

To a kid, likes on a photo equates to likes in real life. It offers a false sense of popularity that these kids thrive on. Not getting likes on a post can create anxiety and an obsession with checking their post over and over to see if the like counter has increased.

Both my kids have told me many stories of people they know who will delete their post if they don’t get enough shares or likes. They don’t want the stigma or the embarrassment of being the person who wasn’t popular enough to generate more than a few measly likes.

The whole likes and comment counter thing has grown to a point where it’s directly impacting a kids self esteem. Everyone wants to feel heard and recognized, and for the upcoming generation today, it’s via social media that they’ll get this instant gratification.

And I get that, I really do. I too have fallen prey to this form of ego petting. Not only through things I might post on social media, but also through this column.

I get excited when I see have a few thousand views. In my head, that means a few thousand people are reading this column of mine. But as someone wisely pointed out to me, that too is a false sense of audience reach.

People may be clicking on my column link, but not necessarily reading it. Or they may just be reading the first few lines and backing out. Or they may have even clicked on it by accident.

The moral to this story is simple.

While likes and shares and comments are an indication of people taking a mild interest in your life at that moment, it’s not a measure of who your friends are, your popularity or your standing in this world.

It’s meant to be a form of entertainment and sharing tidbits of your life. Not the scale upon which you live your life. But for the record, I’m still going to continue to check my own column counts and Facebook stats too.

Thanks for reading.

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About the Author

Tanya Gunderson has been writing for the heck of it for many years. Her inspiration comes from her kids, their friends and the craziness of life. She takes great pleasure in exposing life for what it really is and has an open-book approach to her writing.

Her formal education and background include a blink-and-you miss-it stint in the radio and television industry, but it gave her an opportunity to write professionally on a few different occasions.

Email: [email protected]

 

 



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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