The only ‘Like’ that matters is our own.

The recent change in the Whatsapp Terms & Privacy Policy seem to have sparked a bit of a backlash, and it prompted me to reflect on the effects of social media on not just myself, but also my friends, family, and my clients.  None of us are immune to the pull of the internet, whether it is to connect with others, to buy goods and services or for general information.

But by changing their Terms & Privacy Policy, Whatsapp has triggered something in an increasingly distrusting public.  The general public seems to believe that they own their social media and that social media is there to serve them.  WRONG!  The growth of data collecting technology and developments in data mining mean that these online platforms can exploit their huge user bases for a variety of purposes.    

One friend called me to tell me he was moving from Whatsapp to Signal, a reportedly ‘free, more private and more secure’ platform.  Whilst it might be more private (who am I to assess this?) than the current change in Whatsapp terms and whilst it might be more secure (who am I to ascertain that?), the word FREE kind of says it all.  Again, there’s that belief that social media is there to serve us.  Again, there’s that sense of entitlement. 

Another friend messaged me, aggressively asserting that it should be her decision whether or not anything in a Whatsapp message could be shared with Facebook.  In my head, I compare this to owning two properties.  If I owned two properties (if only!) and I had a nice painting that would look nice in the other property, I would immediately put the painting up on a wall in the other property.  The difference here with the online example is a) I don’t own the platform and b) I am knowingly relinquishing control because everything that is being shared is digital, just like this blog post.

Even if you left social media today, the posts you have shared would continue to be used for various data mining exercises to help drive activity online.   

The bigger issue here is that people feel that control is being taken away from them, so what does social mean to you?  Last Summer, I deleted my social media accounts.  No more Facebook, no more Twitter and no more Instagram.  I kept Whatsapp so I get the best of both worlds – a way to stay connected, but without the marketing and endless comments from people I didn’t actually know that well.

When I suggested to my friend that she keep Whatsapp to stay connected, but delete everything else, I wasn’t too surprised by her defensive response.  What we are also dealing with here is addiction.  An addict believes that have a right to a substance, and on their terms.  The terms have now changed and the addict is now reacting. 

In my client work, I have seen the negative impact social media has had on people.  It is easy to say it, but the most powerful thing you can do is stop powering the social media platforms with your content.

As counsellors, part of our work is to explore a client’s locus of evaluation.  We come into the world alone, and we will leave the world alone, so why do we spend so much of our time on earth worrying about what other people think?  Why do we need those comments on our social media feed?  Why do we crave validation?  Counselling helps to explore all this, and more. 

Our locus of evaluation is where we get our sense of right and wrong.  An external locus of evaluation means we are evaluating the world around based on what other people have told us.  For example, a over-protective mother [not always a bad thing, by the way] can leave a child with a lifelong fear of dogs because the child may have been taught that all dogs are dangerous (based on the mother’s unfortunate experience). 

A healthier way of being is to develop your own internal locus of evaluation where you judge the world – and yourself – based on your own gut instinct, by acknowledging and accepting how you feel and your own accumulation of personal beliefs.

After many years of training, I have learnt that there is only one ‘Like’ that truly matters.  And that is my own.  

Book a session with me and let’s work together to help you get there. Contact me here.

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