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The Disturbing Side of Social Media’s Response to COVID-19

If I see one more celebrity sharing bikini selfies from quarantine in their mansion, I’m going to scream. I’m sorry, did I say “bikini”? I meant colorful dental floss. Gag me with a spoon!

But I digress.

What I actually intended to write about is our culture’s addiction to social media. And I’m preaching to myself here because it’s both a blessing and a curse in my own life.

This self-isolation thing may be a blessing in an unsuspected way. A golden opportunity to re-learn how to be comfortable just being ourselves without broadcasting it. Learning to exist without other people’s acknowledgement lending credence to our existence and activies. Which leads me to 1994. (No, not 1984…that’s different.)

I found myself asking, “How did we live in nineteen ninety-four?”. Some of you young whippersnappers might not have existed yet in 1994!

For one thing, my family had never even heard of the Internet. My dad’s company had only recently installed computers at his office. Every computer was installed on a Lazy Susan and pivoted so it could be shared by two employees. In fact, I vividly remember my confusion when Dad attempted to describe something called “a mouse.” A mouse!?! I was absolutely flummoxed! How funny to remember it now!

So what did we do all day long in 1994?

My family talked to each other. We had conversations over meals and while we were doing housework and projects. We listened to the radio and talked about what we heard. Sometimes we played games or did art projects. We worked in the yard and weeded the flowerbeds. We went on bike rides and picnics. If we were interested in a subject, we jotted it down during the week and then checked out books on the subject on our weekly Saturday trip to the library.

When I was just six years old, I remember sitting on the floor, my arms resting on the windowsill, watching the robins hunt worms for hours and hours. I watched the wind in the willow (the tree, not the book), the squirrels, the clouds and the shenanigans of the eccentric bunny rabbits in our neighborhood. (Yes, the bunnies actually were unique. They all had odd growths coming out of their heads but they were happy little bunnies and scarfed the cabbage and carrots we left for them.)

My family still didn’t have TV, a VCR or video games so I read. Copiously. Constantly. What I read so long ago informs what I write now. Sometimes I feel like Katherine Hepburn in Desk Set: “I associate many things with many things.”

There’s one thing I don’t ever remember in 1994: being bored. It just wasn’t a thing! So I’m flummoxed by all these rich, famous, adult celebrities posting ever-more-stupid pics and videos because they’re “so bored” at home.

We have more entertainment venues available in our own homes than ever before in the history of world…and they’re bored!?!

Perish the thought.

Yet to be honest, sometimes I get bored too. Oh the shame! The Queen Mother said that, “Nobody is boring. If you find someone or something a bore, the fault lies in you.” I allow myself to become bored not for lack of educational, absorbing and interesting things to do. No, the fault lies in not availing myself of them. Of allowing my mind to become too hyper by being on the computer all day long so I can’t concentrate on reading a book.

In 1994, no one except your closest family and friends knew you existed nor cared what you did. You didn’t document every moment of your life. The word “selfie” hadn’t been invented. If we took pictures at all, it was of each other on our birthdays, stiffly posed side-by-side on the couch. Hey! Kodak film and development at Target (matte, please!) were expensive!!!

There’s a wonderful freedom when you can just live…not live and document your life on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, SnapChat or Whatever-They-All-Are. With forty upon me, I can tell I’m getting old because just the word “TikTok” fills me with angst.

The worst part is that I’m addicted to Facebook…and right now, I hate myself for that.

No, that’s not quite true. I try to only share posts that are uplifting, educational, heartfelt or humorous with the occasional rant and pictures of our pets with humorous captions. I like to think my Facebook gives something to you…not just take, take, take. If you learn, if you’re uplifted, if your world is enriched, if you laugh then I’ve done my job. (Not having a smartphone makes selfies impossible, thank goodness.)

On the other hand, social media can be an incredible blessing. While you may not know your actual next-door neighbor, social media fosters a wonderful sense of community, especially during this vexing time. We can all pray and support each other in ways unheard of in 1994.

Maybe that’s my point: It’s one thing to share what you have to bless others and help them get through this difficult time. I applaud the celebrities who are live streaming free concerts from their Living Rooms. Beautiful! That’s magnanimous and generous. That’s social media at its finest hour!

It’s something quite different for other celebrities (who shall remain nameless) to tweet the millionth bikini picture or bathtub photo with a few bubbles arranged to barely satisfy Instagram’s Nudity Guidelines. It screams, “Look at me! I don’t exist if you’re not thinking about me! I have no identity, no talents, no creativity and nothing positive to contribute so here’s some T & A.”

Well, guess what? We all have Ts and we all have As. The time to get over yours is at puberty. So kindly keep them outta my face. If I want to see them (and I don’t), I’ll seek them out (actually, I won’t).

Instead, show me your God-given talent. Sing us a song. Make us laugh. Play us a tune. Teach us a card trick. Tap dance…that always puts a smile on my face. Do some networking, putting those in need in contact with those who can help them. Go through your apartment building, wiping off each door knob with Lysol as a friend of mine is doing. Do something kind. Don’t just jump up-and-down screaming, “Look at me! I’m naked!” like a toddler.

And now, fully aware of the irony and hypocrisy, I’m going to go post this article on, you guessed it, social media!

Okay, rant over. Sulu, you have the conn. Lenora out.

The Disturbing Side of Social Media’s Response to COVID-19


Lenora Thompson

Lenora Thompson is a syndicated Huffington Post freelance writer and food blogger. Her readers call her the "Edward Snowden" and "Wikileaks" of narcissism because of her no-holds-barred-take-no-prisoners approach to writing about narcissism. “Narcissism Meets Normalcy” is the real-life, ongoing story of her healing journey from being held “hostage” by a multi-generational, cult-like narcissistic family. It's gritty and real, bloody and bruised, humorous and sarcastic. Lenora Thompson considers herself a “whistleblower,” shining a spotlight on narcissistic abuse so others can also claim their freedom and experience healing. To learn more about Lenora, her husband Michael's heroic battle with Pulmonary Alveolar Proteinosis and to read her writings about food, please visit www.lenorathompsonwriter.com. Thank you!


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APA Reference
Thompson, L. (2020). The Disturbing Side of Social Media’s Response to COVID-19. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 27, 2020, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/narcissism/2020/03/the-disturbing-side-of-social-medias-response-to-covid-19/

 

Last updated: 1 Apr 2020
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