My grandpa always says that life is what you make of it. His simple mantra, though it may sound like something embroidered on a pillow or seen on Pinterest, carries an enormous weight in my life. My attitude in any given situation strongly affects my behaviors in reacting to that situation.
With that in mind, if life really is what I make of it, I need to look at all of the outlets where I articulate my attitudes about life. More often than not, I find myself expressing my thoughts through social media. Putting my thoughts and emotions into 140 characters and shooting them into cyberspace makes my opinions seem valid. My sentiments are validated even further when others “like,” “favorite” and “retweet” what I have to say.
Unfortunately, many of my comments online are negative. When I’m upset about something, I want everyone to know. The cynical or sarcastic posts also generally receive the most feedback from those who share common enemies or appreciate the negative humor.
For example, last year a Twitter feed was created to voice “Augie Problems.” With over 300 followers, the feed specialized in witty reiterations of common student complaints and inconveniences. The “Augie Solutions” feed created in response managed to gain only about half as many followers. Admittedly, I appreciate a good jab at the establishment as much as the next gal, but there’s something intriguing about the tendency to emphasize the negative on social media.
If someone knew me based solely on my Twitter feed, they would probably get the impression that my life consists of little more than problems and self-promotion. They would see that I had an awkward encounter with my roommate or that I would almost always rather be napping. Since my life is what I make of it, why do I choose to make my life on social media so trivial? At some level, my attitudes on Twitter must seep into my attitudes in the “real world.” I often find myself recognizing insignificant problems in situations because they would make for a humorous tweet and the further validation that I am, in fact, endlessly witty.
However, none of my musings spur change. Commenting that the hike up to third floor Humanities would wind an Olympic athlete does nothing to improve the condition of the steep stairs or make me better equip to endure such a trek. Posting my discontent with that which I cannot change does nothing but spew meaningless conflict with no real intent to find resolution.
Additionally, social media is not conducive to productive discourse. Rather than broadening their horizons, many people have used social media to seek out information that only confirms what they already believe. If I got too annoyed with my Facebook friends posting their political views, all I’d have to do is “un-friend” them and continue to spend my time following only those friends that share my views.
Even when social media does spur conversations, the usual give-and-take of a face-to-face interaction is replaced with the mentality that one party has to be entirely right and the other entirely wrong. I fear that our reliance on the ability to instantly connect with the world has, in fact, prevented us from really connecting with anyone at all.
Ultimately, the way we communicate is constantly changing, but what remains constant is our control over our attitudes toward communication. As our world becomes more and more indoctrinated with social media, we have to make sure that we can maintain positivity. We need to emphasize the big picture rather than getting caught up in trivialities. Most importantly, we need to remember that we all have the ability to spur change once we recognize that life truly is what we make of it.