What was the first thing you did before you got ready today? Be honest here. You probably checked all of your social media accounts right? Because what could have happened in the 8 hours since you went to bed last night that’s so impossibly important that it needs to be the first task of the day?
As soon as that alarm goes off, most of us instinctively open up Instagram, check Twitter and browse Facebook. Before we’ve even got out of bed to start the day we’ve filled up our first waking moments with social media.
The power of social media can’t be argued. It’s infiltrated our lives and changed behaviours more than any of us thought possible. Yet, we’ve become so reliant on using social media to boost our self-worth that we’ve become our own worst critic when it comes to our online personas.
What did we do before social media became such an important part of our day to day lives? Sure we didn’t know so and so from school is pregnant/engaged/married (delete as appropriate), but why do we even need to know this information? It just ends up with us comparing our lives to the next person and forgetting to celebrate our own personal victories.
I always remember a lecture I had during university from a guest tutor and he spoke about being careful with what you like on social media. He said that we’ve become a nation of ‘likers’. We like because other people have, because it’s the popular thing to do. We’ve become so immune and normalised to liking everything in our feeds; do we even know what we like anymore? It’s become something we expect. We expect to be liked and be popular online.
How did we become so obsessed with being liked on social media that we’ve started to do things just because it might look good on our social media profiles? I myself am guilty of that crime.
For me it’s Instagram where I commit most of my social media sins. Because why wouldn’t someone what to see what I’m having for dinner #foodporn, my new shoes or where I am in the world. It’s the bragging tool that’s started to rule our lives.
Deleted a post because it didn’t get many likes? Guilty. Panicked and Instagrammed an old holiday shot because I’ve not posted anything in at least 3 days? Guilty. Planned a photo opportunity because it’s the must have Instagram shot from my holiday destination of choice? Guilty.
The list goes on too. I’ve rearranged tables to get the perfect flat lay of a meal, taken bulk images to make sure I don’t run out of Instagram worthy snaps and gotten cross with my boyfriend when my outfit doesn’t fit in the grid. And do you know what all those things have in common? They weren’t fun.
Social media is forced fun. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to capture and document a moment but when it stops you from actually living in the moment that’s when the moment stops and the battle to be liked on social media begins. It’s a toxic head space to be in.
I end up not posting the ‘real life’ stuff that actually happens in my everyday life because, hey don’t want to mess up my Instagram theme now do I? It must be full of #ootd shots, delicious cocktails at fancy places and the odd holiday shot thrown in.
And let’s not get started on comparing ourselves to social media superstars. Because do you know what secretly, deep down I bet they hate how obsessed they are too.
But what if we all posted our real lives on social media? Shared what actually happens in our lives rather than those contrived shots. I bet we’d all start to do a happy dance inside rather than seeing our feeds filled with images that look like they stepped straight from the pages of a magazine. Of course there’s nothing wrong with sharing beautifully created images but when it becomes detrimental to our wellbeing and stops us having fun in real life that’s the moment it should probably stop.
Social media isn’t real life. It’s our dream life we create on a little grid or in 140 characters. We’ve seen the good social media can do. It’s an online diary. It unites us in a time of crisis. It allows us to share our thoughts and our adventures. It helps us stay connected to friends and family across the world and even make new friends. It’s an incredible tool when used positively.
But there’s a time when we all need to break free from those shackles we put on ourselves and post what the heck we want. It’s a platform to share the good, the bad and the ugly, we just need to be confident enough to do so.