Social Media: The COVID-19 Handbook We Don’t Need

During this time of unexpected change and uncertainty, we are creating new ways to live. We are finding alternative ways to work, communicate, socialize, shop, and spend our time in general. Blah blah blah… yea, we know. As our social norms are changing, it’s essential to acknowledge the mob mentality that influences these cultural shifts.

With more time on our hands, many of us turn to social media and use it as our handbook to guide us out of this pandemic and to adapt to social distancing. We are posting our survival tactics for other people to see, thinking it’s our way of doing our part. When in reality, is it genuinely altruistic? Or do we just want to confirm our existence digitally as that is, in many cases, our only option for visibility?

To me, this is problematic because what we consume and share on social media is a filtered version of reality. I’ve written about this before in a previous blog post, Branded AF. Many unintentionally compare their lives to others, and social media makes it all too easy. The issue with the comparison is that the lives we see on social media are illusions, whereas the lives we live are real. When we compare our lives to the idealistic lives people portray on social media, we are ultimately comparing apples to oranges.

I love giving advice and sharing my survival tactics for life in general (…I have a whole blog about it). However, I’m not sure how helpful it really is. I don’t believe people seek advice that contradicts their original plan. Instead, they seek reassurance and validation. If I give advice that goes against someone’s original idea, I bet they would not take it. They would find someone else to reassure them that they are on the right track, and/or ignore my perspective altogether. There have been times where I’ve received advice, maybe from my parents or a trusted mentor, where I’ve already had the same idea myself. So, while some may say I took their advice, I would argue that they just reassured me that I had a good idea or that I am on the right track. That said, I’m currently wracking my brain trying to think of an instance where I had an idea, someone advised me to do the opposite of what I was planning, and I completely changed my mind through the act of taking their advice.

So, what is the point of giving advice online? Truthfully, I don’t need anyone’s quarantine survival tactics that they share on social media. I know how to take care of myself. Sometimes I seek ideas online such as home workouts and recipes. However, I seldom find those items on my Facebook feed. Instead, I do a google search. I believe there is a difference between searching for specific information and aimlessly scrolling through social media to see what others are up to.

Now, I’m a total hypocrite because just last week, I shared the following on Facebook and Twitter:

Out of everyone who saw this tweet, I bet zero actually took the advice. Did I do it because I wanted to help people? Did I do it to add to my personal brand? Did I do it so people can see what I’m doing? Maybe my intentions were all of the above. I’ll admit this realization took a dark turn.

I see a bunch of sh*t on the internet, and when it comes down to it, do I actually take the advice that I read? Not usually. I end up doing my own thing. For example, a few days ago, I watched a whole video of an elite level figure skater make “healthy cookies” so she can “stay in shape” while she’s quarantined. These cookies contained funky and presumably expensive ingredients, and I believe referring to this recipe as “healthy” is a grand claim. Cookies are cookies. The thought makes me laugh because I know myself and I know that if I am going to put in the effort to make cookies, then they are going to be real cookies with traditional ingredients, thank you very much.

So, why do I find myself scrolling through my Facebook feed to see what everyone is doing to survive? Why do I share what I’m doing? I don’t have a good answer, and I think it is a waste of my time.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a bump in all of our roads. We have clear instructions to follow collectively (stay home, stay 6ft apart, wear a mask in public if you can, etc.). On the other hand, individually, we have the freedom to adjust to the new circumstances in our own ways. As Robert Frost would say, “take the road less traveled by.” Social media is an interesting tool that allows us to keep in touch digitally, but should it be our main source of inspiration on how to live our lives? If we solely use social media as our handbook to guide us through this mess, we are limiting ourselves. Personally, I think there’s something enticing about figuring this out on my own and following my intuition. I see COVID-19 as a tunnel on my scenic route. While there’s a lot of darkness around me, I see the light ahead.

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