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Allee McKown

Are You Good Enough?


When people say that you as you are not good enough it hurts. When our fellow humans tell us that we are doing things wrong--that we are dumb, sad, lonely or ugly--its like a slap in the face. But what about about when corporations or social media portray that same message, does it feel the same? You may be thinking, Ive never had a corporation tell me that Im no good. Facebook or Twitter have never said I dont have enough friends, my profile says that I have 236 friends. Everyday, social media networks and corporations tell us that we arent good enough. Social and promotional media are constantly creating the same social judgements that obliterate all hope for happiness. If you think about it, what is the point of an ad except to make us unhappy with what we have. This is the argument Annie Leonard makes in the Story of Stuff. And when you think about it, shes right. Advertisements tell us that we are out of style, that our house isnt big enough or that our kitchen is outdated, that what we have isnt good enough, and that we can fix it all if we buy their product (Stuff). They tell us that we aren't good enough. Social media does the same thing. It tells us that we are inferior. When you log on to Facebook and you see that your sister has 437 friends and you only have 236, you are really just looking at a screen that is screaming You aren't good enough. How? When you're on a site like Facebook, you get lots of posts about what people are doing. That sets up social comparison you maybe feel your life is not as full and rich as those people you see on Facebook" (Facebook). These are the insightful words of John Jonides, a University of Michigan neuroscientist. Compare these to what Annie Leonard said about adversing and the message is the same. Both are comparing you, to others who own something better or who are doing something better, and stating that you too will be better if you have this or do this. That type of propaganda creates social judgments, by comparing you to others and then making a perceived judgement that you are lesser. Being inferior does not makes us happy, U.S. national happiness has been declining since the 1950s. That was around the same time that economic theorists decided that we need to consume at an ever-accelerating rate and weve since been targeted by a plethora of advertisements- an average of 3,000 daily- that set up judgments and decrease happiness (Lebow qtd. in Stuff).

The average Facebook user checks Facebook 14 times daily, and are shown an instant and continuous stream of how happy other people are (Marche; Subbarman). That too creates social judgments as people create positive social personas and post only the cool things that they do, causing others to see themselves as lesser (Monin qtd. in Thai). On social media cites happiness is put front and center, creating a contest of who can look happiest in the virtual world of social comparison. Go ahead, put this down and go check Facebook. Do you see many Im really sad, disappointed, depressed posts? No, because we hide our negative emotions so that we will hold up well when faced with social comparisons and judgements (Monin qtd. in Thai). Because of this situation, many people who turn to social media cant get support in hard situations because they cant admit to having those negative emotions for fear of social judgment. So really, not only is social media making us less satisfied, then it keeps us from seeking support and the sociality of it forces us to look happy. This concept of showcasing happiness dominates our lives as we are bombarded by social and promotional media telling us that we arent good enough. In our country happiness is so much of a social norm that the pursuit of happiness is enshrined into the Declaration of Independence (Marche). But the truth is The more people value happiness, the more they strive to be happy, the less happy they are (Iris qtd. Lombrozo). Advertisements too make us less satisfied. By portraying people purchasing and implying that it improves their quality of life, consumers feel pressured by social comparisons, to buy the things that according to the propaganda will make them happy. Than not only creates social judgment but also increases stress, as consumers feel pressured to spend their limited funds (Geewax). With todays globalization, the propaganda that is reducing happiness has become a world wide phenomenon. As we can connect the globe through social media, and product placement has expanded national borders, the lack contentment created by social and promotional media, has penetrated the whole world. The wide spread globalization epidemic that roots capitalism at is core and the exchange of information as its medium has done all but hinder the dissatisfaction that comes with social and promotional media (Barber 3). In fact the onslaught of globalization, the overarching international system of our time, encourages the open communication of social media and the returns that stem from advertising (Freidman 3). However, at a cost, the happiness, judgement and increased stress of the people of the world. Is that what you want? No, so take a step back, remember whats important, the new car and the status update, or family and friends, of the flesh and blood variety. So next time, walk out of the room when that Subaru commercial comes on, because you know that it has only one thing to tell you, ignore those friend requests, from far off acquaintances, because they however inadvertently will only bring you down. And hey, while youre at it, maybe just delete that Facebook account. Excuse me while I do.

And may I say, that those adds and social media sites, they are wrong: you are wonderful.

Word Count: 993 Works Cited Barber, Benjamin R. "Jihad vs. McWorld." The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 01 Mar. 1992. Web. 27 Feb. 2014. "Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Well-Being." PLOS ONE:. Ed. Cdric Sueur, Institut Pluridisciplinaire Hubert Curien. University of Michigan, 14 Aug. 2013. Web. 01 Feb. 2014. <http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone. 0069841> Freidman, Thomas L. "Tourist with an Attitude." The Lexus and the Olive Tree. Farrar, Straus Girous, 1999. Web. 27 Feb. 2014 Geewax, Marilyn. "Sharing Matters Most When Trying To Buy Happiness." NPR. NPR, 09 Dec. 2013. Web. 04 Feb. 2014. <http://www.npr.org/2013/12/09/249731897/sharing-mattersmost-when-trying-to-buy-happiness> Hu, Elise. "Facebook Makes Us Sadder And Less Satisfied, Study Finds." NPR. NPR, 11 Oct. 2006. Web. 02 Feb. 2014. <http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/ 2013/08/19/213568763/researchers-facebook-makes-us-sadder-and-less-satisfied> Lombrozo, Tania. "Human Emotions Explained In 60 Short Interviews." NPR. NPR, 15 July 2013. Web. 04 Feb. 2014. <http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2013/07/15/202193063/ human-emotions-explained-in-60-short-interviews> Marche, Stephen. "Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?" The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 02 Apr. 2012. Web. 05 Feb. 2014. <http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/05/ is-facebook-making-us-lonely/308930/> Story of Stuff. Dir. Michael O'Heany. Perf. Annie Leonard. Story Of Stuff. Dec. 2007. Web. 29 Jan. 2014 <http://storyofstuff.org/> Subbaraman, Nidhi. "Smartphone Users Check Facebook 14 times a Day." NBC News, 28 Mar. 2013. Web. 10 Feb. 2014.<http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/smartphone-userscheck-facebook-14-times-day-study-says-1C9125315> Thai, Jenny. "Social Networking Leads to Negative Self-image." Stanford Daily. Stanford University, 7 Jan. 2011. Web. 11 Feb. 2014. <http://www.stanforddaily.com/2011/01/07/ study-shows-social-networking-sites-can-lead-to-negative-self-image/>