Cropped Out: 5 Times I Felt Invisible on Social Media
Social media has practically become our online diary. We use it to tell everyone what we're doing, who we're with and what matters in our lives.
But sometimes social media doesn't always reflect the truth.
In today's world we have two selves: ourselves and our "cyberselves." If you never leave your house, you're essentially invisible to the world. Likewise, if you aren't represented on social media, you're invisible to the web.
It's upsetting when our presence doesn't make its way online. Here are five times I felt invisible on social media and what I learned from the whole disappearing act:
How it felt: One time I was on a camping trip with all of my friends (I'm talking besties and extended acquaintances). We were goofing around by the lake when someone took an adorably candid photo of a few of us laughing. The sunset was almost as vibrant as our smiles and all together it made for a totally Instagram-worthy photo. Later on one of my friends uploaded it, and to my utter shock and embarrassment, I was cropped out. You could still see a little bit of my arm, but that hardly counts. I started to wonder if she thought I wasn't pretty enough or if she didn't like me as much. It was a huge hit to both my ego and my feelings.
What I learned: After letting the disappointment settle I realized that even if that photo hadn't been taken, I would have still been laughing and splashing with my besties by the lake in one of the best weekends of my life. Pictures may capture memories to look back on, but what's really important is being apart of those priceless moments in the first place. My cyberself only exists because of the memories I make in reality.
Tag, You're Not It
How it felt: One time I was browsing through my Facebook newsfeed when I came across a long status that one of my best friends wrote. I dove right in, smiling. She was recapping this hilarious memory of all my best friends from a few years back—a unanimously decided best memory. When I came to the end I realized that she tagged all of us in the status. My eyes grazed everyone's name but mine. She left me out. It seems silly but I felt like crying because I was forgotten. In that moment I felt like my friendship was insignificant.
What I learned: For the rest of the day I plotted my next move. I thought about texting her directly about my hurt feelings, I thought about passive-aggressively commenting on the status, and I nearly unfollowed her from my feed. But then I realized that I was completely overreacting. Maybe she didn't forget I was there, but just forgot to tag me. Our friendship isn't as fragile as one slight on social media.
Relationship Status: Single
How it felt: Confusion. Heartbreak. Disbelief. My boyfriend had changed his relationship status on Facebook to single. This wouldn't be a huge deal if he was my ex, but we were still dating! And to top it off I thought we were totally happy. Was this his way of breaking up with me? Was he just trying to seem less attached? What were his motives and why on Earth would he make this passive-aggressive jab without talking to me first??
What I learned: When I called him to confront the status change he didn't have a good excuse. He claimed that he hadn't done it on purpose but I knew very well that it's impossible to accidentally change your relationship status. Initially I wanted to lie to myself and believe this was a mistake but in my (breaking) heart I knew our relationship was over. What he did was disrespectful and I respected myself too much to let him treat me that way.
How it felt: Any time we post on social media we hope for a bunch of "likes." Sometimes when I post a photo on Instagram I get much fewer "likes" than I think my picture is worth and it sort of stings. You start to question the composition of the photo or the filter you used. But when your main squad doesn't even give your 'gram the attention is seemingly deserves, it cuts deep.
What I learned: Value isn't determined by the number of "likes" you get on social media. Getting less than ten of this silly senses of validation doesn't mean anything in reality. There are dozens of variables, down to the time of day you post, that go into the desired double-tap. I used to delete a photo if it didn't get enough attention, but now I proudly leave it up. If I like the picture then what does it matter who else expresses their mutual appreciation? To be honest I've been able to enjoy social media much more since letting go of the posting pressure.
How it felt: My friend called me up to rant that she had been defriended by another friend on Facebook. I couldn't believe it and signed on to check it out for myself. My jaw dropped when I saw that the same thing had been done to me. When someone scrolled through this person's friends-list, I wouldn't be there.
What I learned: We confronted this friend about the bold move and he said he unfriended a bunch of people he doesn't talk to anymore. Sure, it was true, we hadn't talked in a long time and we stopped hanging out. I guess in real life we weren't really friends anymore. But for some reason that didn't seem like a good enough excuse to betray our online friendship. After the initial burn, I came around to the idea. If we weren't friends in real life then we didn't need to feign friendship on social media. Friendship isn't contingent on appearances. Real friends are there for you during hard times and accompany you during the good. I was happy to reevaluate the meaning of friendship because it added a much greater value to those I call my besties.
It's never fun to feel invisible, especially when it's documented on the web for everyone to see. Blow off a little steam with THESE common excuses people use to exclude you from their social media.