I like social media. A lot. I feel like it was created for introverts like me – just extroverted enough to want to say things that make people laugh, but over all, desperate for quiet space. I like to read what my friends are doing. I like to see pictures of their pets and kids. I like to mentally cheer for my family as they accomplish something. I like to direct the thoughts in my brain towards other people. I love to congratulate people on pregnancies, and engagements, and promotions, and weddings, and graduations. I like to click the little crying emoji on Facebook when someone is heartbroken and I know that offering my thoughts and prayers will not be what is needed. I like taking videos of my kids, and then having them pop back up on my feed 3 or 4 years later, remember their big eyes, soft hair, and fat cheeks, frozen forever in time. I like being notified that someone I haven’t seen since high school is having a birthday. I like everything about it, and in fact am teased for overusing it.
It’s true. I do overuse social media. I check it multiple times a day, share too often, and like way too many pictures. But I genuinely like to like them. I have read articles about people’s social media addictions, and the phantom cell phone alerts. I know that getting likes lights up the dopamine or oxytocin releasing section of my brain. But that also means that I know that it does that for other people as well. If I know that I can do something that will temporarily, but measurably cause an improvement in someone’s day or mood, just by engaging with something that they posted online, why wouldn’t I do this? Why shouldn’t people know that their posting on Facebook through COVID-19 as the Star Trek Captain’s log made me smile? (Thank you, Holly! It’s awesome.) Why shouldn’t someone get 53 likes on a selfie of them with their engagement ring? They are excited and want to show it off. Why wouldn’t I double click on someone’s post about their ability to lift a truck? If it makes people happy, I like to do it. I like to make people feel happy.
Through the last few weeks, we have seen a lot of people reaching out to each other through social media. My friends and I have been doing online yoga and coffee dates. People are posting activities to do at home with their kids; posting pictures of their new COVID-19 foster/adopt pets. My sister is using the internet and social media to teach her son in Nova Scotia AND my kids in BC. My best friends and I have saved our sanity by sending each other memes that are either dark AF or inspiring depending on the mood. We are getting information, misinformation, and disinformation on Twitter. We are depending on social media for the social parts of our lives. Even the most introverted among us rely on people. We are social. It makes us feel good. We like each other. And so, right now, most of us are reaching for our devices and liking each other’s posts.
And why not? If we can do something right now, that makes our friends and family feel good, when we are all on edge on day 50009090023 of quarantine… (OK, more like day 12…) why not?