Monday, August 24, 2015

Awkward: Looking, Liking, and Lurking

The reality of our world today is that we live our lives online. Even the most conservative social media users still have an internet trail of some form or another. It’s almost an expectation that once you have someone’s first and last name you Google them to learn more. If it seems you’re likely to be connected in any way, then you usually connect on social media. The thing about social media is that it satisfies exhibitionist and voyeuristic needs. People like to share and over share. People also like to passively observe and people watch. Admittedly, if we’re honest we’ve been in both camps. So what do you do if you realize that you’re the creeper?

If you’re anything like me, then on a bored weekend night with nothing to do you surf. You frequent the same pages of people you follow. Perhaps it’s your hair crush and you follow for styling ideas. Maybe it’s that hot, fit friend who posts crazy workouts of the day. Maybe one day you'll be able to deadlift that much and do walking handstands. Maybe you follow someone you have feelings for and even though you notice and want to like everything they post within minutes of them posting it, you hold back to not not seem like you stalk their page 24/7. Meanwhile, you read each and every comment from their friends, visit their pages, and inadvertently gather personal information about their best friend’s partner’s cousin.

After an hour or so of mindlessly wandering from page to page, it dawns on you, can anyone see me? Is this one of those intrusive sites that obnoxiously informs the person who’s viewed their page, screenshot their posts, or how frequently they visit? If so, I need the earth to just open wide for me right now and swallow me whole because I’d be mortified. Can’t anyone lurk in blissful anonymity anymore?

If you’ve been there (and I think many of us have), then how do you handle it? I think it’s just important to remember that social media is made for engagement and ideally serves as an icebreaker for real life interaction. Therefore, don’t be afraid to interact with people. Don’t hesitate to like and comment on posts. Tell people how attractive their selfies are or how impressive their work out of the day is, or how you really appreciated the honesty of their caption. Jokingly but candidly share how much you admire them and have a big crush on them. If it’s delivered the right way, most people will be flattered. Authenticity has a powerful way of diffusing social awkwardness. Bottom line, don’t hide in the shadows and lurk. That’s weird and only fuels feelings of shame and isolation. Engage and relate. After all, isn’t that why you connected in the first place? Next, we will conclude the series with Awkward: Making Friends. 

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