As I take my daily scroll through my Facebook newsfeed, I often encounter a status that says, “LMS FOR TRUTH IS!!” (LMS standing for “like my status”). It is these posts that make me want to through my laptop out the window and hope that the Internet dies (insert gun emoji here).
Pictured above is an extreme example. But I hope you can feel my frustration. (screenshot by author)
In my opinion, these statuses are a result of people’s newfound self-righteousness that has resulted from the increasing popularity and usage of social networking sites. Sites such as Facebook have made us more and more self-absorbed. We post hundreds of pictures of ourselves on vacation, at parties, and rocking out at concerts all so that everyone else can see, and be jealous of, the good times we’re having. We check-in and geo-tag our posts so everyone can know where are and wish they were there too. And on top of that, we want all of our friends to tag us in the activity that they post so people can see even more posts about the fun things we’re doing. By posting these “truth is” statuses, people give off the impression that their opinion is so valuable that it’s only reserved for those who take the time to “like” the status. And as the number of “likers” increases, it only inflates the poster’s feeling of empowerment. It is as though they are so important that others are vying for their true thoughts. Perhaps the posters imagine their Facebook friends eagerly sitting at their computers waiting for their response, crossing their fingers, and saying, “I hope they like me,” “I hope they think I’m cool.”
These statuses also bring up another common problem related to social media: honesty. The statuses create the impression that we really don’t know what others think of us. In other words, they are being “fake” when interacting with us in the offline world and it is only online that we can find out their truthful opinions (of course, we must like their status first). Michael Wesch (follow him on Twitter! @mwesch) touches on this topic in his Youtube video. He talks about our want of “connection without restraint.” We want to have the freedom to express our true feelings regarding our relationships with others without having to fear the social repercussions or anxiety. It is truly disappointing to me that we have to hide behind our keyboards and computer screens in order to be honest. We subject ourselves to hiding behind these digital masks in order take possession of our right to think and express whatever we want. In the offline world, if you don’t like someone, I say, SCREW IT! Don’t be friends with them then! Don’t play nice and then wait for them to like your Facebook status to let them know that you actually hate them.
The fact that people are resorting to these types of statuses really makes me fear for the future of the millennial generation. *Disclaimer: This is a large generalization. Thought I use the inclusive pronoun “we,” I obviously recognize that there are members of my generation that are not guilty of these things.* Nowadays, we go to lunch with our friends to catch up and spend the a large portion of the meal checking our phones. We struggle with writing formal letters without using smiley faces and abbrevs. Wait, what’s a letter?! Correction: formal emails. (See what I did there?) We are losing the ability to communicate comfortably in face-to-face settings. It’s getting harder and harder to be our “true selves” without the protection of our Facebook profiles, Twitter handles, and Tumblr pages.
Interestingly, although many responses to “LMS” are sent via private messages, some posters choose to post their responses publicly on their likers’ Facebook wall. It is these public responses that defeat the whole purpose of their honesty-seeking statuses. Going through many “truth is” responses on people’s wall, I’ve noticed that a lot of them sound very similar. Posters often tell their friends how much they miss them, that they should catch up sometime, that they think they’re pretty, or how glad they are that they’re friends. Though these all sound like positive responses, the uniformity of the responses, devalues the poster’s individual relationships with those who like the status. It shows their friends that they are not a unique friend; you feel the same about them as you feel about any of your other friends. There is nothing to distinguish your specific relationship from anyone else who liked the status.