I don't doubt for one second that social media has changed our world significantly. We can't exactly forget that it's there, or deny the fact that it is slowly reformatting the way we work and live our lives.
I'm talking about communication, advertising, marketing, business calls; you name it, it's probably available through some social media outlet. Even I, being the anxious little soul that I am, admit that I would much rather use the easier, no-contact method of messaging someone, over simply picking up the telephone for a chat.
However, one thing I've failed to recognize in the past, and that others may too so often forget, is how much social media can shape us, and how we feel about ourselves.
Nowadays, it's all about how many “likes” we can get on our pictures on Facebook or Instagram. Or always wondering who is looking at our Snapchat stories. Don't lie to yourself, you know it's true.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words right? But why does the picture seem to mean more than the important words beneath it? Well, that's because we live in a superficial, egotistical world.
Admit it, every time you take a great selfie or go on some life changing adventure, your immediate thought is, “I have to post these photos ASAP.” But why?
It truly baffles me. I know that I take most, not all, of my photos for me and only me. I truly cherish the memories. I can spend hours going through all of my old photo albums. I live for remembering the amazing memories I've created that now only live buried deep in my subconscious or in the form of a one-second snapshot. The rest of the photos, though, I do post because, yes, I want people to see them. I'll admit it, whatever.
But what ever happened to good ol' sharing with mom and dad though? Now it's become the whole world's concern what you did last weekend. Why do we care so much?
Our social media pages can so easily create this facade, of sorts, of who we are as people. Someone you hardly know can figure you out through a series of clicks, based on your online profile. We are able to create ourselves on social media. You can be someone you aren't. What you write, and the photos you upload, can say a lot about you as a person.
I, for one, have definitely been guilty of being one of those people who cares way too much about how others view me. I've posted pictures in the past because I've wanted everyone to see how talented I am, how great my hair looks or how awesome it is that I am a cheerleader. Guilty, guilty, and guilty.
Now on the other hand, I don't think I am the first to admit this, but most of the time the only thing social media does for me is make me think less of myself. Prime example: If I don't get a enough likes on a picture, or if I start comparing myself to all of the other gorgeous, skinny girls I see on my timeline, it all goes downhill from there.
I start beating myself up, thinking things like “I'm not as popular as them,” or “I'll never look like that.” I recently learned that this phenomena, in fact, has a name: the happiness paradox. It's the theory that everyone else seems happier than you are, just from viewing others' social media. Granted, the theory is said to usually affect more unhappy people than happy people, but still, it has the potential to affect all people. Think about it, and how it affects you, personally.
Honestly though, who cares? I've come to realize how ridiculous it all really is. At the end of the day, the amount of “likes” I get on a picture changes not one thing about my life. Sure, it's a quick ego boost, and I might get a few compliments, but nothing more. In all honesty, I'll forget about it a week later.
So, because of all this, I decided to make a little change in my life. As of lately, I don't allow myself on social media longer than a few minutes. I use it to catch up with old friends, or to peek the latest photos of my family who, sadly, live hundreds of miles away from me. If I catch myself slipping, then I'm like, “Nope, close out the app, Linds.”
I post and re-post things to spread a message or to show something that I think would be helpful or funny to others. I upload photos because I want to show the friends and family whom I don't get the pleasure of seeing every day, not to win the next popularity contest. I refuse to be one of those people clinging to their Facebook and Instagram accounts every second of every day, only to see who the next person to hit “like” will be.
I can tell you, just from removing the extra few “fluff” hours of browsing through my social media, I feel so much better about myself as a person. I have no one to compare myself, or my life, to. I look in the mirror, knowing damn well I may be 10 pounds over my “normal” weight, or may have some acne here and there, and I accept who I am.
I don't think I've ever been able to say that about myself. Sure, I have my days when the mirror doesn't always reflect the person I want to see. But for the most part, I am proud of who I am. I think that partly comes with growing up, and gaining confidence, but making little changes to your life can eventually make a huge impact. So start now.
I dare you to think about it. Really, think long and hard about why you post things, or why you spend so long scrolling through your timeline. Who do you want to see what you post? What are you missing that you need your social media to validate for you?
Validate yourself. Post something that makes you proud. Who cares if anybody else likes it or not? As the saying goes, everyone else's opinion is none of your business. So put down your phone and live your life, people.