Life’s stressful changes – exposed on social media

I’ve heard that the four most traumatic changes in life are: death, divorce, losing/changing jobs, and moving.  If social media is a portal to sharing experiences, it would follow that these events would be shared. Interestingly enough, this isn’t always what happens.

On Facebook, for example, one sees mostly upbeat posts: funny, moving, or marketing posts.  As I’ve written previously, people like to present themselves to others in a positive light so it seems like everyone is either on vacation or their families are beautiful and happy and getting along, all the time. This can lead to Facebook users getting depressed, seeing the wonderful lives that their friends are leading. There’s even a name for the idea of not being on FB and missing what’s going in the world or with friends called “Fear of Missing Out” – FOMO.

Only rarely does one see something stressful or tragic – such as an illness or a death. They are shared but often late in the process (of illness) – or even after the fact. The saddest posts I’ve seen are Facebook pages that have been kept up by family members to honor someone who has passed away; it was ironic and tragic to see someone’s birthday commemorated – “send best wishes! said Facebook” – when they had passed away a just few weeks before.

LinkedIn, as a professional networking site, is the key place for people who are changing roles or jobs, seeking new opportunities, and reinventing themselves. If losing one’s job or changing work is a stressful event, then LinkedIn is the place where you’ll see it. But not from the stress perspective but rather from the positive, future-thinking perspective.

Twitter is not a place where people typically talk about anything difficult; it’s hard to summarize one’s feelings in 140 characters. I use Twitter for more “news” or business-oriented content. It’s a place where I go to learn and share good information, ideas, and examples.

And yet, to broadcast to my friends that I am making two of these major changes myself (move and job), I chose Facebook. That’s where most of them are. It seemed the most efficient way to broadcast – via Mark Zuckerberg’s well-polished megaphone – that I’m making a change. Here’s what happened:

  • I posted, Sunday evening, that I am leaving the Northeast and moving to Florida. (I have be back frequently, visiting clients and family, but my home will be in the sunny south.)
  • 25 people commented, over a span of two days
  • 57 people either liked or loved the post (using Facebook’s new choices)

Similar to celebrating my birthday on Facebook, I was surprised and delightfully pleased at the number of people who saw it and wished me well.

Of course, the Facebook algorithm worked in my favor, too. The more people who reacted to it the wider it traveled, so that even people I’ve not interacted with on Facebook in a while were alerted to the post. This is where the algorithm really does pay off: if enough people see significance in something, it is shared more and more widely by the site. Success breeds success, as it were – or, for these types of posts, it seems as though it takes on a life of its own.

Have you had this type of experience? Have you shared an event – good or bad – and been surprised (and/or pleased) that it “took off” and reached many people? Or have you been disappointed? It’s amazing, to me, how social media now plays a part in how we manage and cope with life’s stressful changes.

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