Are We Losing By Posting Too Many "Wins"?
As I was doing the promo of my book, I was thinking that I shouldn’t overdo it on the “winning” posts. Posts where I’m smiling hard with a long-winded, inspirational caption about how “happy I am” the book is out. One, because during most of the process of publishing, I was not smiling from cheek-to-cheek at all. I was chronically refreshing my Gmail, waiting for editors and designers to get back to me so I could meet deadlines. I was leaving DMs unopened so I wouldn’t have to deal with the stressful questions I couldn’t answer yet. The who, what and where in regards to the book. You should’ve seen the answers to my 1 am “wya” texts. Where am I? Not in bed with you, that’s for sure.
The other reason why I wanted to hold off on posting too many “winning” posts is because I feel like they’re cool in moderation but, even with the artists I love, when they post too many of them, I get sick to my stomach. Well, let me reiterate. My ego gets sick to its stomach. You know how this goes right? It feels like it’s in direct competition with every fly on the wall, every speck of rice on my plate. And it grows envious and insecure when it sees even my favorite, most beloved artists shine too hard on social media. I’ll be honest. I can’t take it, and because it happens to me, I wonder: Am I just one ‘winning’ post away from getting my “fans” to turn from supporters to haters too?
What's the point of all these ‘winning’ posts anyway? How did we end up doing them? Why do they make up most of the way express ourselves online? And more importantly, what effect do they have on people? On our supporters? Do they help as much as they hurt? I’ve spoken to a few friends about this and of course the “you-should-be-able-to-shine-freely” topic comes up. I’ve worked hard they say. I should be able to scream about how proud I am—when I am. I shouldn’t dim my light just because there'll be haters who can’t take it. And to all this, I agree.
But I still feel like the use of the “winning” posts should be questioned and used with consideration, with strategy. Many of my readers are writers, and there’s nothing that raises the hair on a writer’s neck more than watching another one publish a book. If I rub it in their face, I think, solely because it's in traditional social media style to do so, will it unintentionally aggravate them? Trigger their very human and natural insecurities? Even if they want to be happy for me, would me pushing the limit, basking in my success, break down the part of themselves that they try to hold together? What if I catch them at a bad time? I think. Can't my exaggerations of life—only exercised to honor the inherent vanity expected in social media in the first place—cause even my most loyal readers to feel like shit? If so, what's the point of doing it?
That shouldn't matter!—they say. You shouldn't have to walk on eggshells when you want to share a win Alex! Don't hold back! Post as many as you want! To which my response is: things that shouldn't matter end up mattering all the time. Plus, my argument isn’t that I shouldn’t shine. It’s just that as an artist and a person who can’t unsee the influence of branding, of social media, I have to figure out how these things impact people. I ask these kinds of questions because, well, I know you're probably like me. A person who still falls victim to their most immature self on a daily basis out of pure human nature. Not because you are a bad person, but because you are: a person. I know what my intention is on social media, and it’s not to make your relationship with your ego even harder.
So maybe the question isn’t ‘Why do we post so many wins on here?’ But rather—is it working? During the time artists like Beyoncé or Usher were building their fan base, they couldn't really "post wins". All we could see were their interviews and red carpet showings. Did that help make them more lovable? The fact that we only had to eat the yummy meat and the potatoes of their work (the music and performances) and not the superfluous appetizers we’re forced to eat from artists today? The poisonous posts that exaggerate how great their life is, how cool their friends are and how many third-party publications agree. How does it benefit me, or the artist, to feel less connected energetically with their work at the fault of glitzy, showy captions that distract my love for them—that get in the way?
Because as much as I’d like to depend on the confidence of random people on the internet to connect with me via gusts of victorious uploads like that, I just think it would be stupid to expect it. It would be stupid to underestimate the depths of insecurity that I know is in my culture, and even in myself.
And how is it possible to love an artist’s music, TV show or fashion but slowly start to hate them after being exposed to their extravagant, seemingly flawless lifestyle online? Why is this happening? Shouldn't I love them either way? I have a few theories. One is that I am an insecure human with an unsatisfactory grip on my ego. Remembering to separate it from my soul still feels like full-time work and I don’t imagine this ever getting less tedious. And because my ego is pulling me around like a muscular pitbull, going into a favorite artist’s social media can feel like I’m playing in a landmine. I’m happy for a second but one scroll in the wrong direction and BOOM my self-worth gets an arm blown off. And I know they're only showing the good parts, but still, it's too big of a bite for my pride to chew. Who do you think I am? I still pick the bigger side of the sandwich after and cut it in half.
And I know if I’m having a hard time with this, the people who follow me (the people who follow anyone) are having a hard time with it too. And I don't want to step all over any self-love you're building. I don't want me showing off on social media, just because it's normal or expected to do so, to complicate the already tiresome maintenance I know it takes to manage your soul. Not in the name of typical Instagram behavior and definitely not in the name of this-is-how-everyone-uses-it-so-you-should-too. I ask these questions because I want to be sure that I'm not posting like a sheep but posting more—I guess you can say… like a Wolf.
I want it to feel good for people to follow me. If it doesn’t then my livelihood is at risk. Not just financially but emotionally. The whole point of being a writer and a social media artist is because I enjoy the feeling of connecting with people. If I’m not conscious about why I post what I post then I’m liable for disconnection which is another way of saying: a psychic hell. An energetic swamp of isolation and pain. I’ve been there before, not trying to go back there again.
And yes, from what I can see, there is a difference in using your social as a medium solely for shining verses for sharing. We fell in love with Cardi and Issa not because they took their outer world and showed it off online but because online is where the celebration was! The accounts themselves were the party and all you had to do was follow them to be invited. Following them, their thoughts, their creativity, their originality felt good and that’s why their brands took wind. I wonder if over-exposing ourselves to the wins of artists like them (and others) have diluted the connection we built during their "golden eras." And if that’s the case, then really —what’s the point of following it at all? Isn’t there too much to lose?
It’s special, the bonds we build through an artist's work, and they don’t deserve to be tarnished by the human’s inability to take on numerous “look-how-great-my-life-is” posts. I don't know how we expect it to. The volume of contrived winning posts the average millennial has to handle a day—not even just from celebrities and artists, but friends and family as well—is toxic for even the most humble of spirits. And it makes me ask an even weirder question which is: To feel better connected to my favorite people, am I going to have to freaking unfollow them?
Anyone who has a win deserves to shine, I know that. And I also know there are real supporters who want to see you shine no matter who you might end up blinding, and that's great. But for the rest of us, which is the most of us, are we just sucking it up and praising others because we want them to do it when it’s our turn? Are most of us double tapping so that no one can point a finger at us when it's time? So no one can accuse us of being a hater, envious, jealous, even if we actually are? Also, what if it will never be your turn? Like, what if your wins won’t be transferable to Instagram? Then what? Even weirder, what if it is your turn and the confidence you depended on your supporters to have to cheer you on backfires? What if your win won’t feel like falling back into a pillow but more like fucking up a soufflé? It's happened before.
This is usually where people place a hand on my shoulder and say that I’m right. That we shouldn’t just post the wins Alex. We should post the losses too.But I don’t really know if that’s the solution. Posting losses can be packaged well enough that they reflect back the same energy of wins. Look at you, people think. You’re so brave for posting a loss. It’s a different hand, but still the same pat on the ego’s back.
I don’t really know what we “should” be posting to be honest. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that we got to a point where posting wins is a normality at all. And if constantly posting what feels like forced, manufactured "wins" bitters the bonds we’d like to keep, then why do we keep exposing ourselves to them? And more specifically, why do we post so many of them ourselves?
My cousin Danny kept a tattered shoelace dangling in-place where the switch to his ceiling light should've been; a reminder to myself that there is more than one way to use something. Are there other things to share besides our accomplishments? Like our thoughts, our jokes, our epiphanies? I’m sure you can still taste it in your mouth, the years that social media was where the young kids used to go to flirt and chat. But today it’s become the source for not just young kids, older ones too—and not just to flirt but to fight, fawn and very audaciously, flaunt. Maybe it’s time to see what else this shoelace can do. Maybe it can help us do something else—like turn on a light.