My phone pinged again. “Hey girl! Pls share this for me? Xxx” a Facebook link was in the message. I locked my phone and dropped it on the bed.
This was the second time today Sasha had sent me a message asking me to share something she’d posted online, and I was irritated. I understand this is a fine line to tread – of course I want to support my friends no matter what – whatever they need, I got them, and I’m rooting for them.
But I can’t be is an enabler for those in need an ego boost in the shape of some likes for their own social validation.
It may seem petty, but my Twitter account is a virtual – and very public – representation of myself. It’s is an amalgamation of my thoughts that tell the world who I am, as a person. When I die, it will still be there, floating around the web – all my depressive thoughts, my hopeful moments, my (shit attempts at) jokes, my rants, my writing work, my interactions with others. I know, I know, it’s not that deep – but actually it kind of is, and I just don’t want to be told what to share. ‘What’s your problem’ I hear you ask?
Ultimately, this issue I have with constant requests to share content on my profile is that my social media platform is rare aspect of myself, albeit digital, that I can control. I have 100% licence over how I am represented on my social platform. I may not be able to control the trains being late in the morning or the weather or how other people treat me, but I can control my online persona. I only need to share what I want to show.
It is empowering and if you use it right, it’s a positive outlet where you can connect with people who you relate to in a way you never have with people who are physically in your life. I’ve had wonderful online chats with writers from all over the world, from Lahore to Brooklyn. We’ve given each other feedback, empathy and support that our friends in different professions (whilst wonderful people) just simply can’t provide a writer, and it’s precious.
My mate Sasha works in fashion – she is awesome, hosting events and jet setting here there and everywhere – she’s worked hard and she damn well deserves it all. But outside of what is required in her profession in terms of being a good networker, she craves popularity. To be loved. And man, I really do understand that. But when I see her tweeting influencers she tells me she doesn’t really like, etc, it makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. I know her social media platform is there to provide opportunity, so it isn’t 100% genuine, and that is fine – she’s using it to make it work for her, and that’s what it is there for. As I said, your social platform is under your control; it is up to you how you use it. The only issue I have is when you try to dictate mine.
Sasha first asked me to share her Facebook post about an event a couple of years back, and I happily did it. This became a regular occurrence, and I was good with that – I was proud of what she was putting together, even if these promotional fashion RTs did look out of place on my profile, which was otherwise filled with mental health content and existential musings. But when Sasha asked me to share a post she wrote about an opinion she had on a viral topic, I got pissed off. “Repost this please hun” became a regular message I received.
It isn’t just me who has experienced this – I’ve spoken to friends who have been asked to share content even though they don’t want to, but they feel they have no choice. Sometimes it’s easier to share something that makes you cringe than to tell your friend ‘no’. It’s become another form of social pressure, as if we didn’t have enough of that already.
Friends will post things they’ve been guilted into sharing and be left with resentment that the person asking had no consideration as to how they even felt about sharing it, because they’re only thinking of their own brand. But in this day and age, everyone is a brand, and everyone owns the rights to their own online identity. If you want a friend to share your content regularly they’d probably appreciate you asking what they think of it, and if they’d be cool with sharing it. Do you even care for their opinion, or is it just another avenue of exposure? Sure, you may think your content is good and sure, it doesn’t cost anything to share and sure, it doesn’t even take much time to share content – but that is not the point.
The point is that if I want to share something, I will. It’s not like I have never asked a friend to share my work before (“HYPOCRITE”, I hear you scream) – but it’s rare, and I always ask they are happy to share it and what they think of it. It’s never taken for granted.
So next time you send a broadcast asking for shares, please understand it is not anyone’s responsibility to share your content in a mission to validate your own ego. While I understand the hunger to get your content shared in order to progress in life, please remember not to take your friends for granted – they’re more than your free promoters – so maybe just ask for their opinion next time.