Counting the Facebook post likes – what message am I sending to my children?

So today while casually checking out Facebook, I found myself comparing the pitiful likes I now get to my Facebook posts, with those of my friends.  What is this sad and pathetic person I have become?!!  (To be fair I have never been someone who posts regularly, when I do post, I don’t give much away, so it is not a surprise that people lost interest). Time to accept that my life has moved on and deal with it.  But then I started thinking about how my older daughter likes me to post a photo of her and then constantly nags me to go back and check the number of likes.  I try to explain that I don’t get many likes anymore and though my virtual friends were all once real friends and are real people…. honestly; we have sadly lost touch and even the power of Facebook can’t keep the now virtual friendships alive.  Over the years, I have done many jobs and moved house more times than I can remember, during those nomadic times I met so many amazing people, who I felt lucky to call friends.  Sadly, distance and lifestyle separated us and the promises to keep in touch and meet up came to nothing.  Life took its twists and turns and found me here.

Initially I thought Facebook was this amazing way of keeping in touch with people and what was happening in their lives.  To start off with, we regularly liked each other posts and made occasional comments, but then the un-friending began and my number of friends started to decrease.  I can’t blame them as we went our separate ways, it doesn’t devalue the experiences and friendships we had, it is just life.  To be fair, I unfriended a few myself when the girls started checking out my posts, as the language could be a bit lively for little eyes.  I made new friends in my new lives each time a new adventure started, some joined me on Facebook, but some didn’t. I realised a few years ago that I had become this voyeur, watching people living their lives and wishing wistfully I could be there too on their travels. Now, I am fully aware that people post the highlights, some bravely post the low lights, but they are a rare breed.  I have joined many a local Facebook group, as the shared information can be really useful, but it is shocking how these ‘brave’ people choose to mock, abuse and threaten people from the safety of their invisibility cloak that is social media.  Why people feel the need to be so offensive and cruel is a mystery to me.

I have joined some of the other social media ‘clubs’; Twitter is not for me, I just can’t be witty in that few characters, or at all!  I dip in and out of Instagram as I love taking photos, that one seems a bit less invasive, as it is just a picture with a short caption.  I feel that pictures offer less interpretation than words, so it is more simple.  Snapchat is a huge favourite in this house as the girls are always on the camera, but I purposefully have very few friends on it, so that they can’t publish the hideous photos they make of me.  Me with a terrifying pumpkin head is just not what the world wants to see. I am keen to stay in touch with technology, as I want to be able to understand the world my children are growing up into, but when the virtual social circle is rapidly shrinking, it makes it hard to keep up.

I want my children to be the whole package; love the simple pleasures of the real world, enjoy the hands on experiences, as well as delving into cyber world.  Mostly though, I do not want them to fall into the trap of peer pressure formed from these unrealistic expectations of social media. If a post is not liked by people on Facebook, does that take away your experience?  Does it mean that you enjoyed something less because cyber world didn’t value it?  I have always been so concerned with what people think of me, but realistically, are they even thinking of me at all?  If they are, then great, but what they are thinking is all them and nothing to do with me.  If I can do anything at all in this minefield of parenting, it will be to bring them up to love themselves and not crave validation from others.  Social media is an amazing tool and brings the world together, but is it real?

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