Striving for Recognition

I don’t think the problem is just social media, but social media does amplify it. I see so many struggling with it, and I do too. It’s that desire for recognition, to feel like we’re being seen and heard, to feel ‘successful’ and feel like we’ve made it, whatever that means.

(And I don’t know if anyone really feels like they’ve made it, although some do act that way. How many YouTube videos are there with a title like ‘How I got this success’ or ‘How I make so much money’ or ‘You too can be successful like me’? But many will also admit to imposter syndrome too, that feeling of not belonging or deserving any recognition they do receive.)

I do think it’s natural and normal that we seek recognition. But I think we seek it in the wrong places and that’s what causes the problem. Here are a few thoughts that I’ve been putting together that I think give a much more healthy perspective:

  1. It’s not all about us, whether are success or progress is large or small. Most of us have some privilege, maybe a lot, some luck and circumstance, and often a helping hand.

  2. We should seek recognition and response, but from God. He wants to be that loving Father who celebrates their kids efforts. People, no matter how well intentioned, will always let us down sometime.

  3. If something good is done, that’s a good thing. It really doesn’t matter whether I did it or someone else.

Seth Godin wrote an excellent post about the social media trap. “The algorithm needs to send attention somewhere, and for a while, it sent it over there. But it almost certainly won’t last.... We have a chance to do work we’re proud of, and to do it for people who care. And maybe we can do it in a way that will lead them to tell the others. Traffic from an algorithm isn’t the point, it’s a random bonus.”

I wonder how many of us social media is harming? Whether we’d be more creative and happy without it. I’ve considered deleting IG many times, but there is still that element of connection. I don’t want to create in a vacuum, but then Facebook and IG are designed to take our time and attention and dollars. So to use it efficiently, as a means to publish and connect, we’re always going to be fighting the design that tries to suck us into watching ads or other unproductive nonsense.

I think too that social media harms us because we look to it for what we can get from it, rather than what we can contribute. We like to tell our kids that it’s better to give than receive, but we repeatedly chose to act as if the opposite is true.