For those of us who used to scroll down really fast so we couldn’t see how many followers we lost overnight — our blood pressure readings thank you, Twitter — Fashion Foie Gras blogueuse Emily Johnston has an intriguing proposition: Just stop checking. In a post published Thursday, she suggested we go on not a cleanse but a strike:
“[Try] looking at what life would be like if you weren’t focused on the numbers … [Share] pictures and comments on social without glancing back to see how ‘liked’ they all were and ignore the pesky statistics on your website or blog and just post to share what you love and want other people to experience.”
to break with reality stemmed from a revelation that she was letting figures dictate her happiness, an affliction we, as fellow citizens of the Internet, understand all too well. But even if we weren’t relying on uniques, hits and likes to earn our daily Au Bon Pain, could we give it up for some internal peace and quiet? Not on your life.
We use social media because we seek validation quantified as likes, retweets, favorites, reblogs, follows, and pins. We share stuff because we want people to tell us we’re smart, pretty, funny, and have great taste in highfalutin NYT articles we didn’t read all the way through. Unless you’re a lurker, aka a person with an account who just stands on the sidelines watching, anything you actively do online in a public forum you do to get a positive response. (Trolls exempted.)
So while Johnston’s hope that we keep uploading photos of ourselves singing “Kumbaya” — but not monitoring them! — is sweet, in practice, it’s rather specious. You just can’t continue to post things without acknowledging other people. For one thing, notifications. And for another thing, that’s like opening the door to a crowded room, shouting “Alexander Wang sample sale!” into it, then running away. Interaction is the whole point.
If you’re going to try this experiment, either do it properly and unplug completely, or don’t do it at all. Because burying your head in the figurative sand won’t solve the real problem: allowing others to determine how you feel.
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