Boy am I glad to not be a teenager in the age of social media. I can only imagine the stupid shit my friends and I would have posted, not to mention the ridiculous arguments we would have gotten into via the Internet.
However, I’m a 36-year-old women, who’s living in a time in which my social cohort, not to mention some of my high functioning therapy clients, seem to take Facebook behaviour literally and personally. There are many dysfunctional Facebooking behaviors out there but most recently, it has come to my attention that people are specifically taking Facebook “liking” to a very personal level. Assumptions about people and their opinions are being deducted based on whether or not they “like” FB posts. For people with online businesses, this makes sense; you want people to “like” your product and more “likes” means more exposure and more potential customers. Unfortunately, FB “likes” don’t bring the same validity to personal relationships as it does to business relationships and it’s about time people start realizing this.
So, stop the madness right-frikin-now! Facebook “liking” behavior is not chronically indicative of a person’s position, opinion, thoughts or emotions on a subject. I’m always shocked to hear statements like, “She’s on Facebook all the time. As if she didn’t see my post about my kid having the stomach flu. She didn’t even care to express regret on my post.” I’m here to tell you that anyone religiously having these kinds of reactions has to realize that they are operating from an old psychological wound that yielded something called [insert drumroll here]: insecurity! They are taking a FB reaction, which is an indirect gesture (or lack thereof), to represent the true way someone thinks about a certain subject. They are then seeing this indirect gesture (or lack thereof) to mean that this person making the gesture does not care about them. Do you actually think it’s impossible that the person who neglected to “like” your post was possibly: a) away, b) off their phone temporarily, c) feeling under the weather, d) worrying about a work meeting, e) taking a nap, f) having a fight with their spouse, g) out having drinks with friends, h) having sex, i) watching a moving, j) breastfeeding, k) cooking, l) killing a spider, m) masturbating, n) backing up their iphone, o) doing their yearly budget, p) doing an exceptionally long meditation, q) planning a birthday party, r) getting stains out of white chair covers, s) in awe of Donald Trump’s narcissism, t) having a family reunion, u) shitting, v) shaving, w) showering, x) popping blackheads, y) dying their hair or z) just, plainly, not in the mood? None of these reasons, (not even the last one) signify that the person, who didn’t “like” your post, does not care about you!
People guilty of taking FB behaviour personally have a cognitive distortion called, Personalization. This pattern of limited thinking occurs when someone consistently assumes that they are the cause of someone else’s behavior or mood (behavior or mood that they perceive as negative). For example: “My boss is mad. She must be pissed that I came in late today.” In other words, the way they perceive someone to be behaving is all in response to them.
When you think about it, this is quite self-centered. The typical therapeutic phrase often uttered to these individuals is: “It’s not always about you!” I hate to be a cliché, but…it’s really not always about you! If you rarely take FB “likes” personally, or only do so when undergoing stress or something similar, you have nothing to worry about. However, if you find yourself doing this constantly and consistently and with a variety of friends, it’s time for you to call yourself out. Your insecurity is exercising power over you and is constantly winning the battle. You will need to seek self-help or therapy to conquer this very common human adversary. You are too good (and your time is too precious) to be analyzing FB “liking” behavior and harshly and inaccurately drawing conclusions about yourself (“Nobody likes me” or “I’m a failure” or “I’m not as good as them”) or harshly and inaccurately judging other people (“Ruby’s brother didn’t “like” her post, they must be fighting.”).
If you need support from friends or if you’d like to verify someone’s opinions, I have three words for you: TALK TO THEM. Using FB is a very passive aggressive way to get a message across, in addition to being very avoidant, immature, and inefficient method of communication.
If you are not sure whether or not you fall into the category of people who take FB “likes” way too seriously, here are 5 tell-tale signs.
- You are preoccupied with clicking on your “likes” to view how many you have and who is on the list.
- You are preoccupied with clicking on the “likes” of other people to view how many they have and who is on the list.
- You make gross generalizations and judgments about the opinions and positions about the people on the list simply based on the fact that they “liked” the post. For example, “Ha. Look Johanne “liked” Nikki’s post. She must really like and support Nikki and must whole-heartedly agree with what Nikki has to say.”
- You can’t help but react and get emotional based on these typically false conclusions. For example, “Joanne never likes my posts. I thought she said she was too busy. Ack, I’m so annoyed!”
- You are then left with a sour taste in your mouth and may passive aggressively use your “likes” and “comments” to “send people a message” that you are upset. “I should really “unfriend” Joanne. I’ll at least unfollow her or completely ignore any of her posts.”
Ladies and gentlemen, if you are thinking like this, you are placing yourself in your own personal prison of insecurity, misunderstanding, and negativity. What people post is absolutely not all about you and the sooner you realize this, the sooner you’ll actually find some freedom to enjoy Facebook and start having some fun.