“Thank you for accepting me into your group.”. “This is my first time posting, so please go easy on me.”. “I’d appreciate any feedback you have, but please refrain from any criticism.”. “I’m so happy to belong to this group.”. “I appreciate you allowing me to join.”. “What do you think of ____________? Did I do it right?”. “I’m brand new to _____________, so I hope I did okay.”. “Forgive the stupid/silly question, but…”.
Lately, I’ve noticed a LOT of comments similar to the ones above on social media group feeds and it leaves me wondering about these people’s self-esteem. It would be wrong of me to assume that all of them think lowly of themselves, but the obvious need for acceptance is a bit concerning. Yes, we all need and want to be validated for who we are as individuals, but I’m not so sure that social media venues are the places to seek out approval. After all, we know how nasty comment threads can get with ‘trolls’ looking for opportunities to showcase their own insecurities by attempting to belittle their fellow human beings. Yet, there appears to be cry after cry from folks hoping for likes, encouragement and bucket-filling types of words/phrases. While it is nice to hear compliments despite many pretending to be abashed at receiving them, isn’t it contrived if we are outright asking for them? Wouldn’t it be more meaningful if any positive comments that came our way were unsolicited and genuine? Better yet, shouldn’t those types of affirmations come from ourselves first and foremost?
How and why did we as a society get to the point where we are willing to turn to complete strangers or mere acquaintances on questionable platforms for confirmation of our worth? The term self-worth is deemed such because feeling ‘good enough’ should come from within. Searching for approval from the outside in is only likely to result in a let-down since how we feel about ourselves reflects how others see us. In other words, if we feel that we are ‘less than’, that is often how we will get treated in return.
It is sad to think that there are a good many grown adults in the world around us who are struggling with their own acceptance. Granted, we’ve all been through a roller coaster ride this past year which has turned many of our realities upside down and then some, but the truth is that all of this blatant validation-seeking began long before COVID-19 invaded our lives. The scary part is that if grown men and women are feeling this way, just imagine how it affects our youth and children who look to us to set examples. If we feel badly about ourselves, there is a really good chance that they will feel the same way. No wonder bullying and suicide rates are of increasing concern nowadays for them. Our little ones are looking to their outside environment to find their place and unfortunately, it is the influence of social media that they are turning to, much like their parents.
The good news is that awareness of what’s going on is the first step toward change. Hopefully, those individuals who are ‘happy to be accepted’ into various groups have a chance to pause and reflect on their purpose for being in the group. If it is solely to share and admire in breathtaking landscapes, classic recipes or artistic expressionism, then great! However, if the intention of joining is to simply gain popularity or approval, maybe a post like this one will cause them to think twice. Just our being here means we are worthy. We need not look outward to anyone or anything since true acceptance begins with us. No amount of likes or shares can truly fill up our tanks in the same way that we ourselves can. We are whole as we are—we do not need others to complete us. Friends and loved ones can certainly enrich our lives, but they aren’t here to give us meaning. Meaning lies within and it’s just waiting for us to uncover it. My advice: Chase after passion and purpose in real life and leave social media where it belongs… in a virtual world.