Rambling on validation

This is one of my LESS CLEAR LESS GOOD ESSAYS.

Do you judge other people when they post on social media?

I do.

Does that say more about me or them?

Why are they posting if they do not want to be judged?

You probably—and this is an assumption—interpreted my statement of judgement as negative. You ~probably thought that I was judging them negatively as bad people. But I never said that. What I said was that I am judging them posting.

So who is the judgemental one now?

The above mental gymnastics was weird to write out but, hey, this is stream of conscious style writing—why not articulate what I am actually thinking. And that is what I am actually thinking; I am not sure with my own judgements and thus I am going through an idea maze of sorts thinking how to let these thoughts sit in my brain more comfortably than their current mess that is taking up space.

I am not a social media creator. I do not mean the capitalized Creator (the person I am defining as the person who uses social media to make a living, i.e. they make money from posting on social media). I mean creator in the more casual sense. I do not POST things on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok and Snapchat. (Over the years, I used to be more of a creator on those platforms but over the last 2 years I have completely fallen off them, and for it, I feel better).

As of me writing this, these are the biggest social media platforms in the world. Most of my friends only really CREATE on Instagram (and a smaller percentage on Twitter) and they do not really engage with the rest. Even so, most of them do not create much on Instagram, but instead do spend a lot of time consuming. (I do not have Instagram, so I do not consume OR create on Instagram).

But back to the winding thoughts going through my head—I am both interested in understanding A) what my judgements are and B) why am I making said judgements (returning to the original question of if I am really projecting my own emotions and seeing the world as a mirror OR looking at the world for what it really is).

So starting with A)—when I see people post pictures themselves on the internet, I generally feel like they are optimizing for VALIDATION (not really for connection). The latter notion—connection—I think was perhaps the original intention of “social media” but I do not see it as the primary use. I mean I guess it depends on how we define connection, but I see social media today primarily MAKING PEOPLE FEEL LESS LONELY by CONNECTING THEM ON THE TOPIC OF VALIDATION.

The train goes a bit like this: I WANT PEOPLE TO THINK I AM COOL, FUN, RICH, SEXY -> therefore -> I post an image of myself on the internet.

Is this reality? Is that a fair judgement to make (more on this in a second)? Where am I wrong?

So when I see a person post, I do play that story in my head…are they lonely? Do they want attention? Do they want people to tell them…like them…is it a call for I NEED VALIDATION? Is that what a lot of this life is about? About escaping the default loneliness via THE DOPAMINE DISTRACTION OF GETTING VALIDATION FROM ANOTHER PERSON ON THE INTERNET?

(NOTE I AM NOT DOING THIS ALL THE TIME)

Different people want validation from different types of people. On twitter, perhaps? (and this is a big perhaps) it leans intellectual (at least in the circles I follow). On Instagram, it leans hot and rich. Where you post may impact who you want to VALIDATE YOU.

But slow down there—this is me telling myself to slow the brain down for a moment—is this not a bit hypocritical? Right now, LITERALLY RIGHT NOW, you are publishing an essay (that you are writing right now!)? You say it is for external processing and learning, but then why publish it on the internet? Do you not want validation? Do you not want people to think about you in a particular way?

And this brings me to point B) what does this reaction say about me?

I think, starting with my own intentions, the reality is YES—I DO HAVE A DESIRE TO ESCAPE LONELINESS. And that me publishing on the internet is a bit of a call to the world (and to myself) that HEY IF YOU WANT TO UNDERSTAND ME, I EXIST AND YOU CAN READ ABOUT ME HERE AND YOU CAN EVEN, IF YOU REALLY WANT, CONNECT WITH ME DIRECTLY.

The opening is my brain and that is what I am sharing with the world. My thoughts. MY BEING.

I think what I judge in others is that opening revolving around ~materialistic~ things like HOW MUCH MONEY YOU HAVE, HOW COOL YOUR TRAVELS ARE, HOW HOT YOU ARE. But what is the story in my head and where does it come from?

There is likely a part of me—probably one that changes in size depending on the mood and season—that is INSECURE WHEN I SEE PEOPLE WITH THINGS I DO NOT HAVE.

Even saying do not have is probably not accurate—there are things I want to have or CANNOT HAVE (or at least have not proven my ability to ascertain). When I see people fawning over them, I get insecure.

I get insecure both because I do not have them. And then I tell the person fawning over them (fawning is just another word for drooling of sorts) that THEY ARE STUPID FOR PLAYING THAT GAME.

And I think that judgement could be ~fine to make. I could make the reasonable assumption—perhaps not that they are stupid—but rather that they are STUPID FOR ME. That we do not have aligned upon values.

That if you want to entice your CONNECTIONS with ~pictures of you as your default mode of receiving validation, then you are NOT THE PERSON WHO SHARES VALUES WITH ME.

And in some ways, my body FEELING GROSSED OUT WHEN I SEE PEOPLE DO THAT is a natural defense mechanism to protect me (and my feelings/emotions) from people WHO ARE NOT MY PEOPLE.

So doing something for the validation—that is not inherently a bad thing (I’m not the arbiter of bad but that’s a place my mind can sit on for now). It can certainly work for some people (myself included). How long it can work? Well that’s a question worth exploring another time (how sustainable is validation as a source of energy?).

But is everyone a SELLOUT FOR POSTING PICTURES OF THEMSELVES LOOKING GOOD ON INSTAGRAM?

I do not think that is a fair RIGID conclusion/GENERALIZATION TO MAKE.

I sometimes think about what history would teach us about the human pursuit of validation.

  • Would Einstein post on Instagram?
  • Would Li Hongzhang post on Twitter?

I do think it’s a reasonable judgement to make that people want validation. And I do not think that should be viewed as SUCH A BAD THING. People do not want to be lonely all the time. And these outlets can provide temporary relief. (Again how temporary is a separate question).

So where do I end up here…I do not quite know. In general, I am thinking about going with the flow more. I am thinking about having less rigid judgements of others. But I am also thinking about being more selective about WHO I LET INFLUENCE ME.

And recognizing that I attract people who are likely a reflection of me in some capacity. So when I meet people I dislike, I should ask myself why I dislike them. What am I insecure about? Do they have qualities I wish I had? Are they (perhaps unintentionally) provoking an emotion that I have yet to wrestle with?

Not my clearest essay, but an essay nonetheless. Onwards.


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