I can’t believe I’m quoting Gary Vaynerchuk for something I’m writing. Although I respect him for what he does (and I think he’s a kind human being), until recently, I mainly thought of him as a proponent of hustle culture and excessive self-portrayal.
This view was consistent with my opinion on most Social Media in general: Although I’m not one to generally condemn Social Media, and I’ve been a participant in most social platforms for a long time, I’ve been very critical (and judgemental, if I’m being honest) of a lot of it for many years. And I’m not even focussing on the wrong parts of the social web like hate speech and the spread of misinformation. I was mainly turned off by what I perceived as an exaggerated form of self-portrayal and egocentrism. The highly stylized and filtered (in every sense of the word) portrayal of perfect lives on Instagram (“Here’s me on this lonely beach, at least on this picture you don’t see the thousands of other people that are also here and the highway that made it easy for us all to get here.”), the never-ending stream of humble brags and virtue signaling on LinkedIn (“I’m so thankful to the universe for giving me the chance to pursue this $1.500 Harvard certificate and for enabling me to recognize the genius of this homeless person I recently hired.”), and the hyperbolic realizations and teachings on Twitter (“I recently won the lottery, here’s a thread on how you can do it too in 5 easy steps”).
If you are not communicating, you do not exist.
Before this turns into a rant, let me return to my original point: This view of Social Media has let me refrain from posting for most of the last years. I’ve had phases where I posted something here and there, but in the end, I’ve always come back to being a silent observer. I’m sure part of the reason is also a fear of judgment, especially given how judgemental I’ve been about much of the content myself. But I’ve been revisiting my view on this, and it’s changing. In a world where so many connections are purely virtual (especially now with the pandemic) and where Social Media is the only way for a lot of links to be formed or kept alive, I acknowledge that sharing (and sometimes maybe even oversharing) has definite value. The value, of course, is determined in the reader’s mind, and everyone will come to different conclusions. But as someone who communicates, it is probably a mistake to apply too strict of a filter which, on the extreme end, might lead to not communicating at all. In his talk "How to Get Over Your Fear of Judgment on the Internet,”, Gary says (referring to Social Media): “This is the real world.” And I guess he’s right. It’s a different world, but it’s real. It might have different dynamics, and it definitely has parts that I might not like or agree with, but so does the “old real world.”