Oh, the world of social media. People desire tons of followers, but not as many people want to lead.
Selfies, TBT (throw-back thursday), FBF (flashback friday), pictures of friends and family, social gatherings, and loads of other adventures fill Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, and the list goes on and on. I will not lie; I would like more followers too, but recently I have been wondering if I am using my platforms to show and share what is of value or if I am falling into the tempation of sharing what will get more likes and shares. What is valuable and meaningful should become the most liked and shared things on social media; but let’s get real, it often is not. People share what others want to see and hear, and often times that does not equate to the most meaningful message(s).
In no way do I want social media to become so serious that it no longer acts as the escape from life I sometimes so desperately need. But, as a person that works with the younger generation everyday, I can’t help but wonder and be concerned that the majority of the images and messages they consume on social media are not always of the greatest substance. Naturally, I wondered if my contributions to the “look at me, like me, share me, laugh at me, me, me, me” world of social media includes enough of the message(s) that actually makes my “followers” “better.” Then again, maybe that is just too much pressure and responsibility; it’s easier to just encourage people to “watch” me but harder to ensure I am someone worth watching. Or, maybe I am just overthinking all of this and I just need to lighten up. I just can’t help think that technology has advanced to the point that we can keep in touch with our families, friends, and strangers all over the world, and yet most of what the youth sees and consumes is garbage (in my eyes). But, can we really blame them? Maybe the majority of the “loudest” things we encourage the youth to consume and those “loudest” things shared in society are garbage. We encourage people to “follow” us but where are we leading them?
I will never forget watching the social media statuses of 33 year old Yosra El-Essawy (Beyoncé’s World Tour photographer) throughout her year-long battle with cancer, which unfortunately she recently lost. Her positive attitude about cancer, her life, and reference for God was infectious. Even though I never met her in person, I interacted with her through social media with a “I’m praying for you” here and a joke or two there to help keep her spirits up. She chronicled her struggles and shared her fight, but she indirectly always found a way to convey a profound message through her updates. The amazing thing is that it seemed to me that she was only saying what she lived, practicing what she preached, and sharing what she believed long before cancer. She WAS a walking message and touched many lives through her photography, career with Beyoncé, and even in her death. To be honest, she probably would not say she “lost her battle with cancer,” but that she conquered a life worthy of Heaven and God’s embrace. Maybe, Heaven really couldn’t wait for her. I never knew Yosra, but she still impacted my life through her social media.
I am not asserting that we should all be Yosra, or that we should even make social media that “deep.” The question I am really asking is are we capable of showing those we know and those that follow us on social media anything worth “watching?” In a world where we can share our voice with the entire world, we are really quiet. A lot of people have questions – questions about life, love, hurt, complexities, confusion, and sorrow, and they are looking for answers, not just someone to look at. Some people want to be listened to, some people want inspiration, others want guidance, some love and laughter, others clarity about this complicated overwhelming world. Can you be the/an answer? Or, are you only good for a great picture? The answer can be a laugh, a smile, a positive message, hope, or truth. Sometimes people just need to know your testimony, the real you, the unfiltered you, the un-perfect you, the scarred and scared you, and the real “throw-back” story of your journey. They need to know that they’re not the only people with unfiltered, imperfect lives.
When it comes to social media we tend to only want to show off the good and never the bad, well at least I do. We want people to think that we are stronger than we often sometimes portray. But, people are not looking for a person who has lived life perfectly, but rather a person who has responded to life in a manner that made the end result “perfect” for them. You have something to offer whether big or small and it starts with opening your mind to more than the “selfie.” So, make sure that the people who are watching and following you at least leave your online presence with something more to hope for in this world. They’re watching and they’re waiting; maybe you have something they need.
Rest in Peace Yosra!