Tag Archives: twitter

The Power of Likes on My Sense of Self

As I eat my breakfast in the morning I give Facebook a cursory read, then I don’t check it again until after dinner. I don’t care who likes or shares a post or picture, I use it to keep up with faraway friends and family.  I post pictures on Instagram and forget about them. I’m not in it for the likes but for the filters that make the photographs of an amateur look great.

In a bid to get under the skin of our teenage girls I’ve spent today immersed in the world of social media. And ith as been hard!

I’ve spent a lot of the day responding to the beeps of my phone calling me. I expected texts and emails but instead I found Facebook posts, comments and likes, as well as Twitter reposts and favourites. These constant interruptions are an annoyance, but not as much of an annoyance as discovering I’d not got nearly as many likes or reposts as I’d have liked!

Out of 400 FB friends only 5 of them could be bothered to like my carefully structured, taken and posted selfie.

At one point I looked at the clock and it was 11.40am. I’d done nothing for almost four hours but faff about on Facebook, witter nonsense on Twitter and strive to take the perfect pic for Instagram that I could then repost on both Facebook and Twitter.

While WhatsApp pings pierced the quiet far too often – I don’t care if you’re drinking coffee in a hipster café in London just like my pic!!

“19% of girls aged between 13-23 say they have kept checking their account for likes, as a result of not getting enough likes for a photo.” Dove Self-Esteem Project (DSEP)

I’ve realised I don’t like these popping up pings. They drive me nuts and make me anxious as I wait for the next one. They invade my real life forcing me to stop in the middle of writing an important letter, pause the news, put down my coffee and pick up my phone because I cannot ignore the call of the ping.

I know now why I keep my notifications turned off – I like to be in control of when I see who has posted or responded online.

“The average girl takes 9 photos before putting one picture online and 69% of girls with low body confidence avoid posting photos of themselves if they don’t like how they look.” DSEP

When I’m not at work I don’t wear make-up but today to keep up with the picture ready teens I invested half an hour of my precious at home time making up my face and doing my hair. After all that work I spent God knows how long finding the best place in the living room to get the best light for my selfie shots. Turns out in front of the window with the sun streaming in on me was just right.

“The average UK girl receives 24 likes on a photo. In fact, they would prefer 5 times this number to feel validated.” DSEP

I posted a couple of these pictures on Instagram this morning, so far they’ve got only four and three likes and it’s 3.45 in the afternoon.

I put five selfies on Facebook at around the same time with the hope that I’d at least get 24 likes. I watched the notifications desperately all day. In an hour they’d got between 3-5 likes each. By lunchtime I was feeling quite inadequate as the likes grew to a mere six apiece with the same people liking every photograph.

What’s wrong with my pictures? Why don’t more people like them? Why is it always the same people who like them?

By 4pm this afternoon I remained disheartened. My selfies hadn’t managed to get anywhere near the 24 likes I wanted: one got seven, another nine, and one managed 11, with the other two receiving just 14 and 20 likes respectively. And all of them managed to raise just one slightly different comment on each one but from the same mad auntie who comments on everything I put on online.

I feel quite despondent this evening. One comment? Nine likes? What did I do wrong? Why don’t people like my selfies? What is wrong with me?

I’d no idea how the power of likes could impact upon my sense of self.

50% of girls say they are using social networks ‘all the time’.” DSEP

I’m a grown woman, nearly a middle-aged woman who should know better but those likes are like a drug dragging me in, feeding the feelings of inadequacies we all have, amplifying them and negatively changing how I see myself.

If I’d got 50 likes today I know I’d be feeling something akin to euphoria tonight. As it was my rather low likes dropped a black cloud of despondency over my head making me feel old and inadequate, making me consider how I view myself – am I actually looking as good as I think I am?

This exercise has left me with more questions (about myself) than answers. But the one answer it has given me is that is hard to be a teenage girl in a world where social media rules everything. When I was at school all I had to deal with were the ‘mean girls’ but I left them behind as soon as I went home.

Nowadays girls are always switched onto the contrariness of the likes and comments of other teenagers. It cannot be good for their self-esteem or their mental health. It definitely wasn’t good for mine.

“24% of 13-23 year olds have said they would rather receive 50 likes than a hug.” DSEP

The #NoLikesNeeded campaign was launched by Dove at the Women in the World Summit in London on 8 and 9 October to encourage girls to realise the only like that counts is their own.

The Dove Self-Esteem Project is the global sponsor of Women in the World and the exclusive sponsor of the new girl-focused platform ‘Generation Girl’.

Together their ambition is to help inspire and encourage young women and girls to recognise their potential, pursue excellence and be undeniable by showcasing real role models for real girls.


Parents, teachers, mentors, etc., can download educational tools carefully prepared by the Dove Self Esteem Project. The tools are designed to help boost self-esteem and increase body confidence in young people. You can download yours at www.selfesteem.dove.com

Here are some quick tips from Dove on how to talk to your daughter about navigating social media and the negative feelings it may bring:

  • Talk about how easy it is to become ‘addicted’ to checking for updates on likes and how things can change.
  • Have a conversation about the reality of people’s lives compared to what’s posted online. Explore the difference between ‘edited highlights’ and real day to day life.
  • Do other people in the family spend a lot of time online and on digital devices? It might be helpful to include them in these discussions.
  • Create a home social media agreement that all family members sign.


Disclaimer – This is a “sponsored post”. The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only write about products or services I believe my readers will be interested in.


It’s Good to Talk

It’s been a long, quiet week with the silence broken only by some loud music, some short talks and the tapping of computer keys.

Teengirl is surprisingly good.  After just a week off school and very little sleep, she is dealing with her friends suicide incredibly well.  But from my pragmatic little girl, I should’ve expected nothing less.

When she did talk to me it was almost void of voice and filled to the brim with sad silence.  Her tears tripped over her bottom eyelashes and her nose got red from crying as she gulped back the words that she couldn’t form for me.

Her fists clenched on her lap and her jaw was set square and hard.  Her eyes shone grey in sadness.

I watched her anger creep up until she couldn’t keep it down anymore and she slammed her little fist against her leg.

That was Wednesday last week, just a couple of days after her life changed.

Now it’s Sunday and she’s still angry, but now it’s just pulsing from her like electrical currents.  It’s slowly beginning to dissipate as she addresses it.

We spent a while talking about anger (or rather I did) and how anger can taint your life if you don’t deal with it.  But how to deal with it?

Teengirl talked to her friend via the computer keyboard every single day.  The anonymity this provided made it easier for them both to open up about things they couldn’t speak aloud, especially her friend, who had kept so much inside for so long.

So we worked out a solution that would allow Teengirl to express her anger, her guilt, her sadness and her hurt in an honest way that wouldn’t require her to hide any of her feelings for fear of judgement or causing pain to anyone else.

Teengirl put on some very loud heavy rock music, sat down at her computer and tapped away at her keys.

She wrote as though she was talking her to friend once again, as if she was still on the other end of the fibre optic cable.

Her fingers screamed out the question: “WHY?” to the internet ether.  And then she began the conversation with her friend that would help her heal her own pain.

She ‘told’ her friend how angry she was that she’d left her the way she had, she SHOUTED at her for being selfish and she cried her tears in words of missing her and lonliness and sadness.  And she asked her friend if she could have helped her, stopped her, saved her.

And with each sentence she wrote, she paused for her friend to answer.

Teengirl filled those pauses with the words she thought her friend would have replied with.  The words that would help her begin the long walk along her healing path.

It’s good to talk.  It doesn’t matter how you do it – with your mouth, your fingers, your tears or your actions.  Just do it.


talk with your fingers

it doesn’t matter how you talk just do it.

Teen Suicide

As i looked out the window last night the clouds were dark and sat low in the early evening sky. Across the horizon the dark blue clouds were separated by a pink cloud fizzing between them.

Just one text is all it took to blanket our home in darkness, to wash it pink and blue and purple, to leave it bruised and battered and dark and haunted.

Teengirl’s friend took her own life on Sunday night.

And teengirl is racked with guilt, her heart is bruised and her soul is battered. Her eyes are haunted and edged purple. Darkness has descended upon her and blackness covers her like a scratchy wool blanket.

Her friend is an internet friend. I spoke about her in my last blog. Teengirl has only met her briefly a couple of times. But they talked constantly online. Both of them sharing their normal teenage pain over the wires at first, then this troubled, damaged soul opened her heart to Teengirl and shared the pain of feeling neglected by her mum, ignored and emotionally abused by her stepdad, bullied at school, left out by her so called real world friends and feeling totally isolated.

On Sunday night she sent Teengirl an online message saying goodbye. Teengirl was, unusually asleep at the late hour. And she didn’t get the message until she was in class at school.

And this time, her friend had succeeded, she had taken her own life.

And Teengirl’s life has changed overnight.

Please know that I’m not in any way writing off this poor girl’s pain by writing about my daughter’s pain, I can only write about my own child, but my heart goes out to the family who have lost a daughter.

At first yesterday I felt there was something wrong, something I just didn’t get like it didn’t feel real when I collected my distraught teengirl from school. I couldn’t understand why I wanted her to confirm it to me, to provide me with details of this friend.

I know now that it’s because I’m from a different era where all our best friends are made face to face in the real world, we may keep in contact online, but we know them originally in real life and we make a point of meeting up.

In teengirl’s world best friends can be found online, soul mates lurk around every corner of the fibre optics that snake around the world wide web. They share more with each other online than they ever would face to face and they may even know these friends better than we know our real world friends. These friendships are so very real, it just took me a while yesterday to get my head round that.

Teengirl is just 13, how can she deal with this at 13? I was 15 when I lost a friend to natural causes. I have friends who were with him when he died and to this day they still blame themselves because they should’ve been able to save him. When in reality we all know that there was nothing anybody could do.

The day he died we lost the part of us that thought we were immortal, the part of us that gives teenagers that joie de vivre, that crazy edge, that belief that they can do anything because nothing can touch them.

Teengirl’s friend reached out to her online on Sunday night and she missed the message because she was asleep. She said to me yesterday in that monotone voice of shock: “I would’ve stayed up with her every night to stop her doing this. Why did I have to go to sleep when she needed me?”

I had to tell her she could’ve stayed up with her every night for six months but one night she would have to sleep and that would be the night her friend would take her life because it was what she wanted to do. That her friend didn’t want to live, that she was in so much pain that she didn’t want to be alive and feel that pain anymore.

“I helped her stop cutting herself, I could’ve helped her.” teengirl sobbed.

“No sweetheart, you couldn’t have helped her. You can’t control what someone does. You can give advice, you can hold their hand but you have no control over another person’s choices.”

“She asked me late one night, ‘mums are supposed to love you aren’t they?’. If her mum had loved her more than her stepdad she’d still be here.”

Oh the pain of being a teenager hurts enough without any extra pain that us adults cause them.

I held teengirl for a long time yesterday. And she slept in my arms on the couch as I watched the clouds turn dark and fall down into a deep blue depression over the hills.

When your child comes home from school tonight, hold them close, tell them you love them no matter what. Please do this for me and teengirl.


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