Social media: connection or comparison?
Listen up fellow Facebook friends, Snapchat swarm, Twitter tribe, LinkedIn lookers and Instagram inhabitants. Social media and our self-worth is an important topic for most people in 2019 (excluding my lovely father who still refers to Facebook as ‘The Pagebook’). So what is social media doing to our society?
Our day-to-day lives seem to revolve around social media use, from optimal Instagram photo posting times to companies promoting their business through Snapchat filters. Logging onto Facebook can often feel like a game of emotional roulette. When I open my feed I am – more often than not – bombarded by streams of endless celebratory posts from my Facebook friends. Whether this is getting a new job, getting engaged, or getting an article published in the Telegraph; everything reminds me of just how stagnant my life seems to have become. I feel like an extremely average student who will barely scrape through my first year of university.
Social media platforms like Facebook began as a way of sharing everything, from new song lyrics to a delicious meal at a fancy restaurant. It allowed people from all over the world to connect by sharing their lives. In the past decade or so, it has since evolved into a platform exclusively for sharing the most intimate, remarkable and meaningful moments of our lives. This is not only because we feel a strong urge to post content that will gain us numerous likes, but also because we know that many others may be looking at our page – from employers to exes – so we feel as though we have to impress.
Social networking has changed from sharing everyday moments e.g. what you had for breakfast to instead beautifying and amplifying life’s big moments. We use image crafting (we’re all guilty of a cheeky filter), or the process of posting deceptively exciting and beautifully staged photos to portray a seemingly perfect life on social media. I mean seriously, how do so many couples get these cute candid photos all of a sudden?
I’m not saying that knowing this means we can stop comparing ourselves. We can try to, of course, but it is, after all, a natural human instinct to judge our success in life by seeing how we match up against others. However, we need to realise that in an age preoccupied with social media, we are now comparing ourselves to a perfectly crafted and sometimes exaggerated representation of people’s lives. We don’t see the engagement ring that doesn’t actually fit, or the fight that took place before the totally adorable couple went hiking in the Himalayas. As a result, we risk comparing our seemingly ordinary lives with ones that seem thrilling and ever-changing, leaving us feeling inferior.
Social media has made us so obsessed with narrating our lives online that we sometimes forget to actually enjoy the everyday. We should be relishing in every second of life, regardless of whether we get that Insta worthy selfie or not. It’s important to take notice of what actually makes us happy, rather than what we think should bring us joy.
Hopefully, this post can serve as a reminder to every single one of us that, although it is great to be able to share our lives so easily, we shouldn’t let social media control our lives or influence our thoughts about ourselves. The amount of likes you get on that Instagram photo or Facebook post doesn’t define your self-worth. You can still enjoy something even if you didn’t post a picture of it. It’s also good to learn to take other people’s social media posts with a pinch of salt. The next time you are tempted to throw yourself a social media-induced pity party, remember that nothing is as perfect as it seems.
By Emma Robinson