People come to me with their confessions.
I am not a priest. I am merely a scholar who researches social media use, and an educator who teaches about it. When people hear what I study and teach, they confess.
The confess their true feelings about social media.
What do they tell me?
- I hate Twitter. I tried it, and I hate it, and I just don’t get the point of it.
- I had to delete all social media from my phone. I couldn’t help myself, I was just spending too much time on there.
- Reading the comments on <insert account name here> is one of my guilty pleasures.
- I couldn’t possibly blog because I have nothing to say.
- I have Snapchat so I can take photos with that filter that makes me look really good.
- I’m pretty sure I’m too old for social media.
- The train wrecks! I love to watch the people whose lives are train wrecks! It makes me feel better about myself.
- Is it horrible that I am just not that interested in other people?
- Social media is fake, and I know that, but it still makes me feel bad about myself and my life. I can’t stop myself from comparing my life.
- Social media is too much pressure. I don’t have time to read and like everything.
- I pretend I’m not on social media and never post, but I cyberstalk a lot of people.
Sometimes they brag a little bit, too
- I have XXXX followers on Instagram.
- One time <celebrity> retweeted me.
People tell me what they tried and didn’t like … or didn’t understand. They tell me why they are online or, more often, why they aren’t online. They tell me how social media scares them, or secretly interests them.
When they confess to me, sometimes I sense their guilt. Other times I sense their pride. Occasionally, I feel their relief at having told someone — a so-called ‘expert’ in the field, no less — that some part of the social media experience isn’t working for them (or that they don’t even want to try).
It is the job of the confessor to offer reassurance. When people share their social media secrets with me, I often find myself telling them that I, too, can be reticent about pointing online. I have my reservations and my regrets. I never swipe the correct way in Snapchat, enjoy the voyeuristic aspects of peering in on other people, sometimes experience schadenfreude, worry about oversharing online, and at times wish I could be invisible online or take it all back. I think it is these humbling and uncertain parts of participating in the medium that make it so interesting for me to study it. Perhaps my biggest — or at least surprising (to some people) — reciprocal confession is that I don’t actually spend that much of my time on social media and can easily walk away from it for days at a time.
So, what’s your social media confession?