We each have our own bones to pick with social media. Whether a scroll through your feed leaves you feeling like you need to revamp your wardrobe, your career, or even your physical appearance, we can all agree that in today’s age of over-sharing, rising above social media’s negative effects is easier said than done. But while the conversation around the topic — and there is a lot of it — tends to revolve around how we absorb and digest what others are putting out there, there isn’t nearly as much commentary on what healthy and unhealthy behavior looks like as it pertains to posting and sharing.
Do you ever stop to think about what’s actually going on on Instagram these days? Around the office, we joke that 15 years ago, if you saw someone spend 30 minutes taking photos of themselves, you would think there was genuinely something wrong with them. Today, discovering a profile filled with solely photos of oneself is totally normal, and in fact, that self-obsession is often rewarded. Herein lies the aspect of social media that I personally take issue with: our newfound need to persistently self-promote.
When I think back to the virtues that I was raised on, humility is pretty high up there. “Bragging” was something I never wanted to be accused of, and to this day, speaking candidly about my own successes makes me feel uncomfortable. Now, let me stop myself to clarify: I’m no Mother Teresa. And, I’m probably just as self-absorbed as every other millennial out there. But the distinction I’d like to make is that being humble, to me, is still something to which we should aspire. But with social media norms as they are, it seems that sentiment is quickly becoming a thing of the past, and instead, self-promotion is the standard. Thinking about this led me to wonder: Is humility dead?
Here’s where it gets tricky. As a marketing tool, social media promotion really works. And if you’re trying to grow a business, there’s no better way to draw eyeballs to your cause. But what if you’re not? What if you’re just a regular person, who doesn’t have “a personal brand” (cause why should you?), and who’s not trying to sell anything? Is social media there for us to tout our successes? All that we possess, which others do not? It’s certainly starting to feel that way.
As for me, I’m going to keep trying to straddle the line between the two, aiming to keep up with the cool kids, while still living in a space that feels right to me. When it comes to humility, I always come back to this quote from Shakespeare’s King Lear: “Have more than you show. Speak less than you know.” I wonder what our feeds might look like if we all tried to live by that advice?