As a blogger and millennial, I don’t think I need to point out that I spend quite a lot of time on social media. In this day and age, it’s practically a requirement. If you’re around my age and you don’t have social media, expect gasps and a barrage of questions, because it’s just not ‘normal’ anymore.
After studying a Media based degree, I can really understand the importance of what social media can bring to our lives. To connect with others around the world at the touch of a button is incredible. To see parts of the world we were never likely to see before is fascinating. But, we are living more than ever in a digital age whereby everybody is living some form of second life online. Whether this is an accurate portrayal or not largely depends on the person, but I think it is fair to say that we are all guilty of tailoring our posts to show the best or most interesting aspects of our lives.
For most of us, social media is a kind of added extra to our daily lives. It is not something that necessarily crosses our minds anymore. But for some younger generations, social media representation (particularly Instagram) is equally important, if not more so, than how you appear in real life. It is almost more important to get the most likes than to hear an actual compliment in person. So is Instagram a dangerous platform of self-expression? Does it promote unrealistic and un-achievable bodies?
Research has suggested that women who base their self-worth on their appearance are likely to post more pictures of themselves online as a form of validation. In turn, they are more likely to have a large number of followers and are also more likely to consider angles and lighting in their photos. So is it surprising to know that many women feel envious of those they follow on social media? When do we, as women, acknowledge that we all have insecurities and that no-one is perfect?
It’s so easy to turn that two minute scroll into an unhealthy obsession, whereby you begin to compare every aspect of your life to this seemingly ‘perfect’ online world. I’m sure we have all had moments of jealousy where we question why we don’t have that figure, or how do they get their make-up so perfect or why can’t I afford to travel to wonderful places all the time.
But it is so SO important that we all take a step back and remember that it’s not all real. It’s specific, styled moments in someone’s life that they have chosen to share with you. And it’s also important to remember that these images can be edited within an inch of their lives. Apps such as FaceTune, filters, lighting, Photoshop etc all play a part in framing the ‘ideal’ image and it is all fake. (Now I am not criticising those who edit their photos, but considerations should be made for the implications that this can have on others). It is not realistic to look like this day to day and yet so many of us, myself included, scroll down the explore page getting more depressed and envious that we don’t or never will look like those girls. It is a mirage and I think it is important to highlight that Instagram can be just as fake as the glossy magazine covers that line the shelves.
Our social media is the one thing we can truly control; we can choose what aspects of our lives people see and what people know about us and it doesn’t need to be absolute. You can be as happy as you’ve ever been and enjoying every second of your life and not need to put a filter on every one of those seconds. Hell, if you’re having that much fun, then I urge you not to get your phone out! Live in the moment and create those memories for yourself.
It’s always important to remember that behind every Instagram, every Tweet, every blog, there is a ‘behind the scenes’. There’s a human (like me) who is no doubt comparing themselves to others too and or maybe even struggling to find their place in this ever-competitive digital world.
For me, it’s time to focus on the content that I want to create. No, I won’t ever take the perfect flatlay or look unnervingly candid in outfit photos, because that isn’t me. I’m awkward and goofy and I like to dress how I want, not how I’m expected to. My pictures are average, and I’m okay with that. Because they’re real and they’re me.