I am obsessed with numbers. Not in a smart or beneficial way, as you may expect from a good little engineer, but in a destructive and demeaning way. I am like the Hillary Clinton of social media. I follow trends that are popular and will garner attention, even if it isn’t always what I care about. When I post an Insta pic, I tend to only do it in the early morning or late evening; that is when the picture is likely to get the most traffic from my followers. I keep tweets in my draft folder for weeks-unless it is about a breaking event- and often edit them two or three times before sending them out into the world of my followers
Tweets I generally send out at any time the sun is up, and lately I’ve been trying to tweet mostly pictures with some witty caption. If I am about to fall asleep, but then think of some crazy saying, I will rip myself away from my blankets and pillows, fumble around for my phone, and type it out as quick as I can. The only time I allow myself to post something unfunny is generally when a national tragedy has happened or an upsetting policy (probably cooked up by some Republican) hits the newsstands. I censor myself, and delete evidence of when others did not respond as enthusiastically as I anticipated.
This is not okay. I am leaving some of my happiness up to the opinions of other, and dependent on a number. Leaving it up to a number is especially dangerous because there is going to come a day that I hit my peak, and that I will never reach again. I shouldn’t expect continuous growth forever, but when it comes to numbers, it is an extremely easy trap to fall in.
This is probably where old people chime in and say “This is how social media is ruining the younger generation!” Woah, there, Bob Barker, that price is not right. Who is creating and pushing all the standardized tests to public schools? The government, which, unfortunately, is still mostly run by crusty old white guys. The people obsessed with test scores are likely not the same people who know what Instagram has the most likes (mine is from when I was homecoming queen; followers like ‘life events’ like that), but the people who run universities and are hiring college kids.
My ACT score does not define me and I really hope my GPA doesn’t define me-I definitely wasn’t a better person in high school than I am in college-but it certainly feels like it living in the middle of a college campus with finals coming up. I try and remind myself of this as I stay up until three or four in the morning, knowing I have to wake up before 8 am, and it does little to soothe me. I’ll take a distraction over crippling anxiety, thank you very much!
Honestly, keeping my social media aesthetic can be a bit of a burden sometimes, but it is much better than constantly checking my test scores and never leaving the library to get a ‘perfect’ number that probably won’t matter once I am a job or two into my career. I will probably stay obsessed with numbers, but take a grain of salt every time I think about deleting a tweet that only my two best friends favorited. The validation I feel when I receive a retweet or a handful of favorites is sick and fickle, but it does comfort me in times of stress. There are some tweets I keep, even if they receive little attention, because everyone has some pride, but most that are unpopular I am likely to delete. At least now I am up front about it and more introspective about it.