A note from Joelle...
This is something most people bottle inside and rarely discuss, but I think it's time to have a little discussion about our obsession with online popularity...
We've all done it: stalk someone's Facebook profile and judge them on their pictures, 'likes', groups and even the amount of friends they have. You'd then refresh your page to see how many 'likes' your new status got and then keep tabs on the comments on your new profile picture. It's a great ego boost and we feel as if we are a part of something.
But does all this stuff really matter in the long run? Is someone's popularity really determined by the number of Facebook 'friends'/like/comments they have?
If you were to ask me that as a 15-year-old back in 2009, I would've said that Facebook friends do determine popularity and how 'cool' you are, but I've grown up since then and have realised that that way of thinking is really damaging (especially to young people).
Although it can be a great ego-boost to know that you can potentially reach hundreds (if not thousands) of people with just a click of a mouse, some people actually get hooked on the constant need for 'likes' and comments. It is as if it's a drug they need to survive - so scary.
Our popularity used to be just a spoken myth, but sites like Facebook and Twitter have turned it into a virtual scripture for all to see and act upon.
The more 'friends' we accept online, the larger the audience we have to keep entertained, so that they won't find us boring and un-friends us. Pressures like that are natural, but it can turn into paranoia and obsession quicker than you think! For example, sculpting out the perfect Facebook status (with many drafts) and publishing the version you think will get more 'likes' is odd behaviour, but it happens.
You usually get Facebook at 13/14 and add your school friends and a few family members to begin with. But then when you get older, you seem to get requests from people you drunkenly brushed past at parties or met briefly through an acquaintance and it becomes a scramble for 'friends'. You don't know these people, but you don't even think twice about declining their request as you want to boost up your friendship numbers. Sound familiar? If you said no, you're lying!
But the truth is, it's all bullshit and can ruin lives if you read into it too much. Our constant desire to be seen as 'normal' and 'accepted' used to be a physical thing but it is now a virtual thing too, which is a really huge issue.
Some people are so obsessed with being 'popular', that they are spending real £££ to buy fake friends to boost their numbers on Facebook! Is this really the world we are living in right now?
*ACTUAL EVENT ALERT*A few months ago, some guy (who I'm not even that close to) asked why if I had low self esteem. I was really confused but then he went on to explain that he noticed I hadn't uploaded pictures of me clubbing at uni, so therefore came to that conclusion that I hated myself. WHAT A DICKHEAD. I was really offended, but just brushed it off because I didn't want to make a scene.
This guy had the audacity to stalk my profile and then practically call me socially inept just because I don't post pictures in Facebook albums anymore.
On my personal Facebook, I have about 555 friends. To some, that is a lot and to others it's a pea-size number. But who actually cares about these numbers and takes them so seriously?
Does it make me unpopular because I don't have over 1000 friends? Does it make me a loser, uncool, awkward, anti-social because I don't upload new pictures into albums? Nope, it means I have a life outside of cyberspace and want to live it without hundreds of people knowing every detail.
The truth is this: we don't know everyone on our Facebook page and we never will. The average person (US study) has about seven close friends in real life and that is okay!
There is no correlation between how many online 'friends' you have and the number of friends you have in real life, as it's just down to who you accept.
These are the people who really care about you, love/know you and will be there for you no matter what.
So, if you are a young person feeling unpopular/pressured into increasing online friendship numbers, just remember that it's not a big deal and a power cut/virus will easily wipe out everyone's account one day.
Having thousands of online 'friends' won't get you anywhere in life and it's not like you can write it on your resume. So don't get obsessed with the numbers and just live your life!
Frankly, we are not in 2009 anymore and I am not going to let a social media site determine how I feel about myself or the content of my character. I just do not give a fuck anymore and you should do the same.
(oh, the irony)
I'd love to know your thoughts on this. Please leave me a comment below and join the discussion!