The Addiction To Validation
July 12, 2016
It's hard to argue with those who feel that social media has become the biggest addiction of our generation. In fact, having just recently come off of a self-imposed 30-day social media "cleanse," I can attest to how difficult it was to quit cold turkey.
In fact, the first few days were almost panic-inducing every time I stepped onto my elevator and couldn't check Facebook. What was I supposed to do after deleting the app from my phone? Would I actually have to make eye contact or, God forbid, conversation with a stranger?
Oh, the horror!
As the month went on, there were multiple times that I found myself experiencing something beautiful. Yet, rather than simply being in the moment and enjoying it, I wanted to reach for my phone to document it, upload it to Instagram, and watch the likes accumulate.
I'm ashamed to admit how much my identity was wrapped up in social media during my radio career. I recall a former co-worker and I being out at a bar where we were hanging out with a D-Level female reality TV personality. She and I took a picture cheek to cheek, appearing flirty, after which I was encouraged by my friend to upload it to Facebook immediately. Why? We decided it was a "good look" for my Facebook page. In fact, the co-worker mentioned he was jealous he didn't get the pic for his page.
I mean... who does that?
But it illustrates the deeper issue. The addiction is not so much about social media as it is the need for validation. Social media has turned us into a culture that is thirsty for instant feedback.
We are the "notice me" generation.
And while it's easy for us to pass judgment on the Kim Kardashian's and Justin Bieber's of the world for naked, attention-seeking Instagram photos, most of us have been guilty of equating our "likes" with a sense of self-worth.
In radio, we run imaging practically begging listeners to follow our stations on every platform. More often than not, we offer no tangible benefit as to why they should. Most of the time, we don't reward them with compelling interaction when they do. Go look at most station Facebook pages and count the number of posts that get single digit likes if you don't believe me.
So what do we do?
I recently came across this quote from Lao Tzu, from The Tao Te Ching:
All streams flow to the sea because it is lower than they are. Humility gives it its power. If you want to govern the people, you must place yourself below them. If you want to lead the people, you must learn how to follow them.
He explains that the deepest and most powerful waters are the oceans. Because they lay low, all streams and rivers flow into them. It's a beautiful metaphor.
And couldn't we all afford to have that same level of humility?
What would be the impact if you put down the cell phone this week? What if you gave up the need to be noticed in favor of being present? What if you abandoned the need for love from online strangers in favor of being more loving in your real life relationships? How much more connected and abundant would your life feel?
What if your radio station was less concerned with amassing followers and focused more on following your listeners? What if you took the time to respond to ALL of their feedback, even the negative comments? What if you actually created a plan to implement their suggestions without dismissing them by saying "they don't get it?"
Like the sea, can you lay low and be humble?
Significance is one of our primary human needs. We all want to feel important, loved, and unique. However, lasting significance happens through giving to others, not superficial likes on social media.
Go to www.creativesoulcoaching.net and sign up for a FREE training video where I share the #1 tip for connecting to your life's purpose. Plus, you will receive my weekly self-development emails delivered to your inbox every Sunday!