Usually, my Facebook feed is filled with the latest clickbait or semi-news article talking about listeria filled hearts of romaine lettuce.
In the last few days, I saw these headlines instead:
- Share your favorite photo from 2018!
- What are your resolutions for the new year?
- What was your favorite vacation from 2018?
- What was the funniest thing that happened to you in 2018?
- What hurt you this year?
Facebook on New Year’s Eve
These were all things that floated by on my Facebook newsfeed this New Year’s Eve. People asking honest questions to their friends, genuinely curious of their answers. In fact, they were so intrigued to learn about the answers, actual conversations transpired online. These conversations took thought, heart, and a little bit of effort; going further than an emoji reply or a status “like.” It was refreshing to witness and be a part of. I learned about friends that I hadn’t spoken to in a while. I learned real things about them, other than their political opinions and their willingness to share clickbait articles. In about 5 minutes of scrolling, I learned that a friend traveled to Belize, one had a baby 2 months ago, one was expecting her first baby, and one lost a grandparent. These were all pretty major life events that had somehow slipped past in the everyday shuffle that is Facebook news feed scrolling. Ask me the political stance of any of those friends? I know it in a heartbeat. Ask me if that particular friend is pro-vaccines or not, I definitely know that answer too. I also know which of those friends enjoy political memes and which enjoy sharing posts about missing people. Why is it that I know about these things, but somehow I missed the birth of a child, the death of a grandparent, and an epic 2 week family vacation to Belize?
On New Year’s Eve, people suddenly become nostalgic. They consider what truly matters in their lives, instead of sharing articles on how much bacteria is on a door handle. For a moment, fear-based articles take a back seat, and we instead begin to see into each other’s real lives. The parts that pull on our heartstrings and elicit emotion. We forget about Trump’s latest tweet and choose to instead share about our loved ones. The good, the bad, and the ugly. The success, the triumph, but also the devastation and the loss. People begin to think about their year as an emotional timeline; joy, sorrow, love, happiness, to name some. Suddenly, floods of emotions overcome them and instead of instantly sharing that article on salmonella ridden avocados, they share the human stuff. The real stuff that takes more than a share click to appear to our social media circle.
Emotional Content: the human element
We want to read emotional content. Why? Because we are humans and we are emotional. No matter how dramatic an article about listeria on lettuce may be, it still lacks substance. It lacks the raw, honest, true human element that we all crave – either consciously or subconsciously. In a word, it lacks HEART. Across the board, I believe our social media world lacks consistent heart, empathy, love, passion, and truth. Tonight, I saw glimpses of these things fighting their way to the top of my feed and it was like a breath of fresh air.
Change the landscape
Social media, for many, encompasses the bulk of social interaction with friends on a daily basis. If this is as true as it seems, then we need to work on creating a realm of social media full of honesty, truth, and vulnerability. I am not saying to turn our backs on politics or the reality of contaminated foods harming us, but I do think we need to ask more questions to each other. Reach out more. Send a message to a friend who is grieving, send a message to a friend who just had a baby. Ask a friend how she’s doing after the death of a loved one. Don’t just tag these people in articles shared by thousands, but actually reach out using thoughtful words that are intended for only that person. A REAL conversation, initiated by you from your core. In 2019, we need to share from our real hearts more than we share from our listeria-filled hearts of romaine lettuce that happen to be on recall.