The dot com age

Somebody unfollowed my son on Instagram, and he was sad about it; asked me, why I think the person did it. He began to wonder if he had said something or done something wrong. And when he couldn’t think of something along those lines, he began to entertain the thought that he wasn’t cool enough, perhaps even boring.

Instagram, with its incomprehensible and ever-changing mechanisms, has become another place to feel rejected. A generic act by an acquaintance (or a complete stranger) is all it takes to begin to question yourself, if you are a young or delicate soul.

I am unfollowed by hundreds of people every week, sometimes every day.

Does it bother me? No.

Do I wonder why? No.

Because I am an adult with thick skin, and popularity on social media has absolutely NOTHING to do with my likability. Hell, I know people who follow somebody they don’t even LIKE. I can have a million followers and be a complete arsehole. I can have 5 followers and be the resurrection of Mother Teresa.

Your followers don’t follow you for YOU. They follow you for THEM. For what THEY get; Inspiration, entertainment, a laugh, some kind of satisfaction. Make no mistake about it. It’s human nature. And it’s fleeting. It takes NO commitment or effort to follow somebody or to throw “likes” around like fucking confetti, or to unfollow somebody just because.

We let our children loose in the no-mans land that is social media with – at best – a few warnings and no real guidance. Social media speaks directly to the limbic brain system which supports feelings and emotions, but does not send an explanation to the cerebral cortex that likes and followings are often just a reflex of the hand, a spontanious act – alas, meaningless.

And those other meaningless validations (IG verification – and large followings), which work to give people a false sense of importance and power, only have significance, if we GIVE them significance. I believe it’s human nature to jump on a bandwagon. We all need to belong and build relations, but there is no actual relation between us when we hide behind a screen. There’s no trust. And trust is the very fundamental condition for a relationship.

We have become addicted to the acceptance of the masses, people we don’t even know and never will, because that meaningless “like” gives us our daily dopamine fix whether we consciously know it or not, and the collective opinion of the masses has become the truth.