The Social Media Game


41 going on 14

Eight reasons why living as an expat in Tokyo is similar to being a teen, when it comes to the social media game.

The proliferation of social media has created what many Gen-Xers believe is a “Thank goodness we didn’t have Instagram when I was going up” sorta world.  I used to say it was unimaginable for me to truly grasp coming into your own while being so digitally connected.  I couldn’t fathom the crazy pressures social media creates for teens. 

But here is the thing.  Maybe I now kinda get it.  Just a glimpse.  Just a taste.  

Here are my top 8 reasons why living as an expat in Tokyo is similar to being a teen, when it comes to the social media game:

  1. Connection - I keep in touch with my friends through social.  I don’t pick up the phone.  I comment on their posts, message them and stay up to date with their day-to-day through their stories.  This is how we connect.  

  2. Meet-Cute - I now have real friends that I officially met on Instagram.  How cool is that?

  3. Inclusion vs Exclusion - I don’t post a lot of pics of the time I spend with friends here.  It’s because I am overly self-aware that others in my Tokyo circles might feel bad about not being included.  Just like in school, there are different cliques.  That means that not everyone, is invited to everything, every time.  Gulp.

  4. Do They Like Me? - In the same breath, my ego takes a blow when I scroll through my feed and see friends out on a Saturday, together at lunch or laughing on their day trip outside of the city.  Why was I not included?  I thought I was part of their crew?  Yes, 40 is the decade of self-actualization, but I am still human.  Gasp.

  5. Forever and Ever - My friends and I went to the Kanamara Penis Festival last weekend.  We have the cutest pictures of us sucking on penis shaped lollipops.  Did I post them?  Nope.  Don’t want that following me around the e-universe in perpetuity.  In this case, at least my 41-year-old brain knows better ;)

  6. FOMO - I know the new FOMO, is JOMO (Joy Of Missing Out).  And it is often a victory for me to say no and just hang at home, but 1 in 5 times, I am jealous as I wake up to hysterical pics and think, dang, I so should have gone too! 

  7. Friends and Followers - It’s a tangled web.  Everyone is connected.  “Hmmm…her name sounds familiar.  Let me look her up on Facebook.  We have 11 of the same friends and I don’t know her?  How is that possible?  Oh yes,” I say as I scroll through her pictures, “I totally know her but don’t KNOW her, know her.” 

  8. Perfection - Whether you are 41 or 14, it is human nature to want to share the good stuff.  Let’s be honest, 23-hours of the day are a hot mess, but you share the one-hour of goodness, which creates a false sense of reality.  But I am ok with that.  I want social to be a place that refills my sunshine tank. 

I am growing up here in Tokyo - stretching and challenging myself in new ways I didn’t even know were possible. 

I love that on social media, my friends curate the world news for me, keep me up to date with the happenings in their own life and help me understand both sides of a story.  It’s fun to go to bed in Tokyo and wake up to a whole new set of musings from the other side of the planet. Yes, the updates are a little different in your forties than in your teens, but they are still life-updates even if they are the latest vacation they took, the new house they bought and how crazy fast their kids are growing. (They are legit getting so big - some even teens now themselves!) 

For me, social media creates a sense of togetherness and community - especially when I am so far away, from a place I called home for so long. I feel beautifully blessed to be virtually surrounded by such incredible (and good-looking) humans, with open minds, empowered voices and generous 40-year-old hearts.

Melissa BertlingComment