Why installing a “cringe-meter” on social media can boost joy

Do you cringe while scrolling through social media? When have you ever felt better after scrolling?

If you feel like social media is a net-loss for collective mental health, you’re not alone.

We post in superabundance with flailing emotions. We flaunt our duck-faced selfies with smooth-faced filters until we don’t even look human. We hammer our political stances down the throats of others until both sides are fuming. We show off our eighth-graders consolation sports awards as if they were the NBA finals. We highlight all of our greatness under a golden spotlight and ignore the flaws. The cringe-factor on social media has reached profound levels.

We’ve all done it. We’ve all made cringe-posts.

I’ve looked back at posts I’d made and had to cringe. You know the ones…

“Congratulations to me!” is the underlying theme of a cringe-post.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with self-promotion in the modern age, but these cringe-posts typically cross the line into “corn-syrup”. Cringe-posts are void of substance and social nutrition. They highlight thy self while providing no value to anyone else. Cringe-posts merely add to the noise and inject more “corn syrup” into the social media diet of others.

It’s a post made from a place of desperation or vulnerability. And it’s not our fault.

Those Instagram, Facebook and Twitter algorithms aim to exploit us when we are most vulnerable. We know this now. They nudge us to post more than we actually want to. And when we post too often, we run out of things to say. When we run out of things to say, we make posts without substance…cringe-posts. It’s not a good look for us as individuals.

This is why I have installed a cringe-meter into my social media. The meter runs 1-5.

1 = tiny bit cringe
2 = uncomfortable cringe
3 = gross cringe
4 = heavy reputation harming cringe
5 = unbearable career-threatening cringe

How does it work?

A close friend of whom I deeply trust will post a 1-5 in the comments of a “cringe-post” I make. And I will do the same for them. I call this person my “cringe-meter-monitor” (CMM). The goal is not to chart at all (no number posted in the comments).

It’s important to find a cringe-meter-monitor who will give it to you straight—someone with high self-awareness and higher social-awareness. Someone you really trust to critique you. Note, if they are posting several “cringe-posts” on their own social media, they are not the monitor for you.

So far, social media has been the old Wild West. And the cringe-meter is a system of checks and balances to restore some calm in the saloon.

Even if the cringe-meter can decrease cringes by 10-15%, I believe social media will be a much healthier and tolerable place: Less “corn syrup” posts. Less selfish posts. More posts made from a peaceful mindset. Quality over quantity.

Hey, the cringe-meter may not save the world, but it’s a solid start.

The good news is, social media has been exposed. At its core, it is ultimately not our friend. And with this new awareness, we can be more self-aware in how we present ourselves online. It’s all going to get better.

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