Kamilia Khairul Anuar explains how we all made our dairies public
There’s plenty of scepticism about the impact that social media makes on, well, society. And these scepticisms and criticisms range from social media being full of pretentious fakers who only want to project a certain image of themselves, to people orchestrating things to post on their News Feeds, to accusations that it is gradually replacing real-life interactions, giving us more excuses to profile-stalk rather than talk to the profile owner directly.
These are all valid claims, with very strong arguments to support them. But there is one aspect of social media that has not been talked about yet – one that counter-intuitively, perhaps, suggests that social media enhances our quality of life beyond just allowing us to form and manage bigger social networks efficiently.
Your News Feed is your canvas. It’s not your life canvas, but a canvas nonetheless. You can post as much, or as little, as you like. People post about pretty much anything that’s even remotely interesting (or not) that goes on in their lives – the meals that they cook, the holidays they take, the projects they’re doing, the articles they’ve written.
The compulsion to post things on ones News Feed may be driven by a variety of possible reasons. Most cynically, you could say that people are driven to making Facebook posts in order to get virtual ‘Likes’ and obtain that albeit temporary, if somewhat illusory even, boost of affirmation. For some, it may be a genuine desire to keep loved ones updated on the goings on in their lives, and the News Feed, with its capacity to reach thousands of people simultaneously and non-invasively, is a great tool to achieve this.
Whatever the motivation behind it though, there is one fundamentally good thing about social media: people are making posts.
As a writer, and long-time journal and blog-keeper, I know exactly why this is a good thing. When you write about the things that you do, or the things that happen to you, you allow yourself to process the events better. You give it better meaning, reflect on it more, and ultimately, you appreciate things more. The fact that social media encourages us to stop and ponder on how we feel about the things that happen to us, and express it in words or photos, and that these creations are then shared to others, effectively means that more and more of us are keeping online journals in the form of regularly-updated News Feeds.
The positive psychological benefits of journaling are well documented. Psychologists often encourage people to document their feelings and thoughts during challenging periods of time because it is cathartic – instead of having your anger or jealousy swirl around in your own head all day, you could write it down somewhere – and it’s different from talking to someone about it, because sometimes, all you want to do is vent. You don’t want anyone’s input on how you feel, because you know that however irrational they may be, your feelings are completely valid, and one way of validating them is to put it in writing so that you have something in front of you that tells you that they are real, that they exist, that those words came from you.
Of course this is a big contrast to what the average person – in particular the average young adult – would post on social media. But the point still stands. When you make posts on social media, akin to when you journal, you are doing two things. First, you chronicle your life. You stop to pay attention to your thoughts and feelings more, and concretise them in the form of posts. Secondly, you communicate – you let people know how you are feeling, and in so doing you are yourself acknowledging and validating your feelings.
No longer is it true that only the lonely kids journal – now, the whole world does.
Featured image credit: Kévin Couette