If Social Media Doesn’t Like Your Memory, Neither Do You

Social media has opened up ways for us to interact and share our experiences with others. It lets us connect with people around the world and keep up with people through their posts, pictures, and memories. However, it can also be discouraging when we experience low response rates from those we thought would like our posts. Not getting any likes on our posts can feel like rejection, which makes us feel unappreciated and ignored.

A 2021 study in Quantified Nostalgia: Social Media, Metrics, and Memory revealed that sharing personal experiences on social media could have a negative impact on how people feel about those memories, if the experience doesn’t get many likes. Study participants acknowledged that likes did impact the value people attached to memories, and low likes became part of the memory. 

Alison Huff, editor in chief of The Roots Of Loneliness Project, says people tend to have two approaches to social media sharing: one view all online interactions are real, while others consider such interactions worthless, as they are not face-to-face. She explains a lack of favorable response to a social media post can ruin a memory for individuals who value online interactions, just as it would if the conversation took place in person. 

“When the experiences we share on social media go largely unnoticed by others, » said Huff, « we take that personally as a reflection on ourselves — the same way we would if we were chatting with those folks in person and no one batted an eye”.  She sees social media as a complicated space. People post with the hope of engagement from people in their social circle. She added, « there are many factors at play here, including our own attention spans and what we expect to discover when scrolling through our feeds. Sometimes people want an easy way to scroll without any interaction – which can leave us feeling ignored. » 

Michelle Fishburne, author of Who We Are Now, notes age is an important factor that could affect how one feels about social media. « I’ve observed my youngest become distressed by the low like numbers when she posts memories and not photos of herself looking stunning, » said Fishburne. « Those are the mom moments, the teaching moments. If many people like you in a red-hot photo, but don’t like you when you are cuddling with your dog with your sweats on, well, then you have just answered your own question about whether the number of likes matters. »

Jerry Han, chief marketing officer at PrizeRebel, see both good and bad sides of social media. “Sadly, the value of pretty much everything posted on social translates into shares, comments and likes,” he notes. When people share their memories on social media, he realizes they want others to interact with them about it. « However, when the responses are minimal or nonexistent, our own memory of that moment is actually ruined, because we no longer get joy from sharing it, » he added. « Having others validate it is important for us. »

Dave Pedley, editor of YourCub.com, says depending on age, one might seek validation from the number of likes they get, and refers to his teenage nieces who turn everything into a “popularity contest.” However, he notes “attaching negative feelings to an unrecognized post is a bit extreme. That is a sorry state of affairs, and hopefully not prevalent in self-respecting, well-balanced adults.” Similarly, Marilyn Gaskell, founder of TruePeopleSearch, has a hard time understanding “people who attach meaning to a specific memory based on how many ‘likes’ it gets from people who weren’t even involved in the making of said memory.”

Social media has become an integral part of our lives. The response to shared posts affects mood, depending on how many likes we get. However, experts remind people that the value of any memory is not determined by how many people like it.  

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