In a world where we’re growing increasingly afraid of real human interaction, that little colored box at the top of your feed means everything. While a genuinely paid compliment from a close friend is always welcomed, somehow, ten Twitter favorites from complete strangers that require the smallest possible amount of thought and energy mean more.
Notifications have become everything. It started in the early years of Facebook when your birthday rolled around and suddenly you came to know the thrill of dozens upon dozens of wall posts. Is this what famous feels like? I died a little inside when Facebook changed their notification process. That little red box used to boast the number of individual birthday messages, and at the end of the day, you went to bed basking in the presence of a red blip that read “47” and you never felt so big in your entire life. Now Facebook lumps all your wall posts into one notification, and while clicking on it to see that your mom and 46 others wished you a happy birthday comes pretty close to opening an actual present, 47 individual notifications makes you feel like Scrooge McDuck in the opening credits of Ducktales, and that’s just plain better.
Then came Twitter, where the thrill of notification became even more complex. Suddenly notifications didn’t just denote whether or not someone you know was thinking of you, you had followers, likes, retweets, and the most thrilling of all, more followers. This. This must be what famous feels like. You become vaguely aware of what everyone has come to understand about the value of a Twitter notification:
If you like me, you’ll favorite. If you love me, you’ll retweet.
Because just as we’ve been taught by 80s teenage romantic comedies, quiet appreciation pales in comparison to the grand gesture of screaming your appreciation from the mountain tops.
And once someone even remotely celebritous gets a hold of your tweet, the grandiose sense of accomplishment that took little to no effort to achieve is drug-like. You walk around light and happy. You gush. You get congratulatory text messages from those real world friends you vaguely remember. And the bar is set even higher.
In seeps the self loathing of a poorly performing Facebook status. Six likes? Is that it? Only six people are sitting at home admiring my musings with a smile and a knowing nod? I’m such garbage.
The soul crushing moment when that little red box is only letting you know that you’ve been invited to play Farmville, an unloved Instagram photo that only receives an itemized list of admirers and not that delicious blanketed note of 11 or more likes, the birth of a thousand unanswered questions when you lose a Twitter follower…this must be what Meatloaf felt like when VH1 aired his episode of Behind the Music. You call a real life friend so they can actually tell you you’re actually great.
And this is the world we live in. Where your love is coldly quantified by hearts and stars and thumbs-up icons.
So now I leave you contemplating what’s truly important to you, and what was simply awarded to you by an apathetic, slack faced stranger with click-happy fingers, but please know this: the entirety of my self-worth is measured by whether or not you share this article on Facebook.