Today I want to talk about a topic that’s been on my mind for a while and that’s the concept of validation in social media as it relates to happiness and creativity. We live in a world where we’re constantly judged to a certain extent by how likable we are, whether that’s how many likes, loves, wows you get on your Facebook post, how many retweets and favorites you get on your Twitter post, how many hearts you get on your Instagram picture, etc. the list goes on and on. Though it’s fun to share with your friends the important events that happen in your life, your proud moments, your sad moments, I think at least for myself, and maybe some of you reading this, we begin to attribute our self-worth and value based on the validation we receive from others in the forms of these social, virtual reactions. It becomes almost like a game where we try to post things that we think will garner the most amount of likable attention from our friends and Facebook’s algorithm, further propels this idea where rich posts become richer. It’s easy to lose your sense of self in this world where you’re constantly feeling an obligation to receive validation from others and this can often affect people’s happiness or unhappiness.
Recent research shows that your “social network may have a negative impact on your self-esteem.” This article further states that,
One recent study examined the links between Facebook use and wellbeing. “We found that the more you use Facebook over time, the more likely you are to experience negative physical health, negative mental health and negative life satisfaction,” says study author Holly Shakya, assistant professor and social media researcher at the University of California, San Diego.
I think most of know this in the back of our minds but in our day and age, it’s such a deep part of most our worlds that it’s not really something we can get out of at this point. Yes, we can minimize the amount of time we spend on social media and that will help but I think as humans, we have this natural desire to connect with other human beings and this is just a very convenient and hassle-free way to do so. For a while now, I’ve been trying to change my mindset and post things that I truly want to post, that I care about regardless of if it receives attention or not.
Validation and Creativity
As a designer of sound and music, I think this is also a very critical concept as well. Within your palette of skills, it’s important to know how to create art, sound, music, or whatever form of media you’re working on for others, whether it be clients, projects that caters to the masses because we don’t always get the luxury to choose what we want to work on in order to get paid. However, it’s also important to take on projects for yourself, that you truly care and are excited about, whether those projects be popular and garner a lot of public attention or not. If we base what we do solely on the concept of receiving validation, we’re limiting the bounds of your creativity by only creating things that are fall into the formula of virality. That’s not to say that you can’t create something that is truly innovative that goes viral (which is the best of both worlds) but popular music and media often follow formulas. Just think of some of the most popular songs out there; they probably all follow a similar chord progression. Or if you think about movies, there is a certain formula to Michael Bay’s films that will just naturally garner likes. A lot of these popular forms of media employ formulaic elements to them because in general, people like things that are familiar to them and that are in their comfort zones.
Summary: Screw the System
So in conclusion, I think that whether it’s creating a social media post, a piece of music, a project, try to think outside of the validation bubble we live in. Screw the system. How likable your post or design/creation is doesn’t determine your value and shouldn’t dictate your happiness. I know this is something easier said than done, but like anything, it takes practice to develop this type of mindset and the first step is always to develop an awareness for it. Focus on what you’re actually passionate about and that will naturally make you happier, more creative, and in turn improve your emotional and physical health.
Side note: I do think that social media algorithms do have an important part in the world of e-commerce and running a business, which I’ve been exploring lately, but that is a different topic, which I will likely save for the next blog post. 🙂
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