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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

VIEW | Will people like me online? The role of social media as indicator of social acceptance at a glance.

The dominance of the digital age and the internet era has since spawn new waves of social norms and ways of thinking. And the existence of internet technology has broken physical divides and provided an avenue for people from all over the world to see various movements take shape and advocacies thrown under the spotlight.

For any marginalized individual, group, or sector of society, this means having a great opportunity to fight for equal representation and societal acceptance. The flexibility of Facebook and Twitter among social media websites, Tinder among dating apps, and Youtube among video streaming sites has then given the community (-ies) or individual a bigger voice to promote and support the issues and rights concerned.

However, an underlying question anyone will ask is: are you (am I) valid online? Am I likable? If you’ll take a look at the sites that you use, there are a number of ways to determine whether or not you and your posts and/or comments are socially acceptable and valid.

But, what makes an opinion or perspective acceptable and valid? Perhaps, having an opinion that does not hurt or barrage anyone? Or a view that does not cut through the general norms of society. Here is a list of criteria that can guide you in evaluating people’s perception of you online.

First, Facebook’s upgraded like button enables anyone to properly express how they feel about anything (e.g. your post). Aside from a like button, they can award you an angry smiley, a sad face, an excited and enthusiastic look, or a happy emoticon. This definitely makes you aware of how others feel about your thoughts and generates a negative impact as much as a positive impact could. It will either pull down your self-esteem or make you more confident. 

Another aspect to look at is the comments box, not only provided by Facebook, but also by Youtube, news agencies, and blog sites, that allows you to see how people respond to your posts. It also gives you a hint of how reactive people are in your online circle.

The third criterion that can be of help to you is the number of match you make on dating apps like Tinder. The other person’s swipe significantly tells you that someone’s interested in you. The more swipes you get, the more socially accepted you feel. This does have an effect on your morale and self-esteem. Getting no match is the worst that you can get.

The number of retweets and shares that you get---may it be in Twitter or Facebook respectively---with your post also helps you keep track of your influence. More than the number, it’s the sentiment, message, or post attached to its tweet or share that will give you an idea of how well-perceived you are online.

All of these criteria tell you where you are currently placed in the social acceptance spectrum.

But, perhaps the question of social validity and acceptance should need not be raised or overemphasized no longer, as in essence, acceptance does not need to come from others. It comes from within. Because no matter what happens, and no matter who you are, people will always have something to say.

Perhaps, the questions “Are you valid online?” or “Will people like me online?” are not necessarily what you should seek an answer for, regardless of your age, looks, and even sexual orientation. The more appropriate question might just be, do I need to be?

Someone once said, “Don’t lose yourself in the search for acceptance by others.”

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