In a presentation on social media I heard recently, the speaker theorized that Facebook interactions — particularly liking and sharing quotes and photos — indicate an internal (and sometimes unknowing) need for social status. When he made the statement, my face scrunched up in consideration. His theory was based on survival programming going all the way back to when humans roamed and foraged for food and shelter and competed for mates in order to reproduce. Still, as I tried to get my head around his argument, I resisted. I considered my interactions and the social media behavior of others I know well. I concluded that, while some people are aiming for social status — marketers building a brand — most Facebook interactions are about the desire to be understood and accepted. Liking and sharing are actions broadcasting to the world, “Here! This is me. Please read so you can know me better!”

When I share content it almost always falls into one of two categories: humor or inspiration — either of which may be sprinkled with dogs in bow ties or cats in ridiculous poses. Social media allows me, through liking and sharing, to tell everyone that I love to laugh. Because I am also an introvert and somewhat shy when first getting to know people, my sense of humor can go undetected. Humor is a way I can connect easily with others. Not only do I love to laugh, but I want to interact with others whose funny bone resonates with mine.

My Facebook activity also indicates my positive outlook on life and my desire to encourage others to live joyfully. If I were to make an album of all of my shares, someone who didn’t know me could easily surmise that I’m a perfect face for this quote by Maya Angelou:

I have a feeling that I make a very good friend, and I’m a good mother, and a good sister, and a good citizen. I am involved in life itself – all of it. And I have a lot of energy and a lot of nerve.

Which brings me to another point made in the social media presentation: the most oft shared content is an emotionally charged photo combined with a positive quote — preferably by a famous person. When I reviewed my timeline and noted my shares, I realized yet again that I don’t fit the social status profile. Clearly, I’m doing Facebook all wrong.

While I do share lots of quotes, they are not typically attributed to anyone famous. The last quote I shared by a famous person was nine months ago when I posted “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” — Charlie Chaplin. The quote wasn’t attached to any emotionally stimulating photo, but the words were set across a solid persimmon background.

I’m better at sharing non-attributed quotes like:

“Life is better when you’re laughing.”

“Everything is made in China. Except for babies. They’re made in VaChina.”

And the one I posted just for Thanksgiving:

“This year, let us give thanks for the existence of stretch pants.”

Truth is, I really need to understand and leverage Facebook to build my author platform. The social media presentation I heard was impressive, in spite of the fact I didn’t agree with the basic theory of why. But, I insist on some amount of separation. On my personal account, I will continue to share what screams, “Yep, this is me! Aren’t I funny? Don’t I inspire you? Aren’t you glad we are friends?” As for my author page, now that I’m armed with a better understanding of what drives interaction, I’m going to implement a few changes. If people want famous quotes, I can’t think of a better person to start with than Maya Angelou.

In honor of this amazing woman and the powerful words she shared with the world, here are five of my favorite Maya quotes.

I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels.

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.

Whatever you want to do, if you want to be great at it, you have to love it and be able to make sacrifices for it.

I learned a long time ago the wisest thing I can do is be on my own side, be an advocate for myself and others like me.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

And, because an authority told me posting photos and famous quotes would engage your participation, I’m expecting all of you to click right over to my Facebook page to like and share!

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