Social currency

This has come up a few times recently talking to my veteran patients. Yesterday, one of my vets who suffers with PTSD (which most do), told me he follows some fellow vets on YouTube and he finds it so helpful listening tell their stories, and especially when they’re being honest about their mental health issues, in other words, being vulnerable. How much he appreciates them opening up about their struggles and how much he can relate.

We talked about social media and how the majority of the posts are all about how great everyone’s life is. The perfect family, the perfect vacations, the perfect careers. But in actuality, this is a far cry from what is truly going on in their worlds. Research has shown that most people post and share things on social media that makes them look best in everyone’s eyes. This is called “social currency”, or “influence currency”. There’s a monetary value to a brand’s followers, likes, comments, shares and views. It is the extent to which people basically share the brand information – or lifestyle, for those influencers who share part of their everyday lives.

I know I’m at fault for this. I still find myself looking at someone’s feed and think “dang, they seem to have the PERFECT life”!! So when it comes to being honest with yourself, the thought of sharing something personal that might be perceived in a negative context can be absolutely frightening!

When I shared my story of addiction on Facebook, I was a little afraid of what people would think or say. I had debated about sharing it for weeks, but, for one, it didn’t seem like anyone’s business, and, two, why would I want to share something so personal with many people who really are only “acquaintances”? But when it was encouraged to share my story and stop hiding by the sober community I follow, I decided it would be helpful to post it on social media. And I’m so glad I did.

I was vulnerable. I posted something very personal and shared my story of alcohol addiction and something amazing happened. People actually read it! I had people reach out to me who’ve struggled, too, and what they did to get out of the grips of addiction. I had a couple high school friends reach out to me for help because they’re struggling, too. And just like when I joined and followed the sober communities, I found I was not alone.

I challenge everyone to share some of your own vulnerability. It has really opened my eyes to human kindness and has definitely helped me along my journey to sobriety. I am not alone in my struggles and in sharing my story, I now have more support than I ever thought possible and I truly believe my story is helping others with theirs.

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