Social media harms your mental health, particularly Instagram.
They say it’s a digital platform that sets unrealistic expectations and creates feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem.
I see it a little differently.
You see, one of the hardest things to come to terms with in life is some of your misery is your own fault. You have to actively choose to change your situation & how you see things.
That means to stop comparing yourself & start loving yourself, doing things for you & only you. It means manifesting a positive reality.
In a perfect world…
Your social media should be an expression of yourself. Everything you post should be for you and not for anyone else. I think some of us get caught up and consumed in the toxicity of the digital world but honestly, it's only really toxic depending on how you use it. Idealisation is dangerous. Every person is just a person and the very people we want to impress or be are just people, even if they seem imperial and everything we're not. We only see the final product with the messiness strategically edited out and unnecessarily drown ourselves in our own self-loathing and exceedingly high expectations of the person we want to be.
We start using likes as validation of our self-worth’s and as a tool to make sense of our own identities.
We fabricate and portray our lives based on the opinions of others.
We betray ourselves in order to be something that we're not.
I started thinking…what would life be like, in this perfect world, without the mounting pressures of social media and without our own digital highlight reels?
I can’t help but assume that based on the reality of our society, the majority wouldn’t survive. We’ve become too dependent and the need to develop ourselves physically and mentally IRL is largely unnecessary.
You see, we’ve become artists; sole creators of our own exclusive galleries.
We’re drowning under the pressure of maintaining an elaborate illusion and manifesting a negative reality based on validation from people we hardly know.
Fair enough, I guess. Appearances are at the forefront of our culture, founded on materialism and face value. The desire to achieve perfection is an incurable disease that plagues us. We’re stuck, playing the ideal version of ourselves. It’s not even what people expect us to be, but perhaps who we want to be.
At the end of the day, no one ever forced us to download Instagram, make a profile and share our photos online. It’s a conscious decision we’ve made. No one seems to take responsibility of that and we unfairly divert blame onto the platform.
We ultimately choose what we want to share and what we don’t.
There exists a blurred line between public and private. Funnily enough, to some there’s no line. We willingly subject ourselves to constant surveillance. To survive and keep afloat, we paint a saleable picture.
It’s important to remember, there’s really nothing stopping us from deactivating and going offline but our own burning desire to fit in, be in the know and remain relevant. I think that’s one thing people have to understand. That sheer need for admiration and acceptance consumes us.
We never want to acknowledge that we cause this misery on ourselves and that our self deprecation is ours to own.
It’s that simple.
I recently read Emma Hope Allwood’s post titled the Dark Side of Social Media. I found her perspective quite thought-provoking as she discusses how embedded social media has become within us and the importance of developing the self-awareness to acknowledge this dependence and detach.
It got me thinking…the first thing people usually ask you for these days is your Instagram handle. I’m sure you’ve noticed it if not done it yourself.
Personal branding emerges as a dominant theme throughout and the integration of social media as a core contributor to professional success. Now, we’ve been introduced to the term ‘influencer’; social beings (not always in the literal sense) who’s primary role is to maintain a public persona to a standard that’s attractive to us. We thirst for it, demand more content and more and more access into their seemingly flawless lives.
The picture they paint seems to be so much more illustrious than anything we could ever fashion.
We want what they have.
We crave it.
We’re not alone in suffering from this self-inflicted pressure either. Most of us feel the same regardless of who we are.
“She looks better than me”.
“Does this look too edited?”
“Will people like this?”
Again, the decision is ours. We willingly scroll our feeds endlessly observing other people’s lives. It’s that need to know, that desire to aspire and dream of the life we wish we had.
Then there’s couples. The ones you see on Instagram who constantly broadcast every occasion in which they enjoy each other’s company. ‘Instagram couples’ as I like to call them…
Delving deeper, it’s not always as it seems.
It’s a marketable image, no longer just a relationship between two people. We buy it, oblivious of the true extent of how real and raw the emotions behind the scenes are, unaware or probably unbothered by the fact that these emotions may not even exist.
No one ever broadcasts their weaknesses & whenever they do it’s usually just surface level…just enough to pull on heart strings but not the real deep stuff that’s enough to truly leave people floored and overwhelmed... the type you tell your therapist as you’re sat on that couch drowning in your own tears. It’s a fabricated final product, as I said before, with the messiness edited out. Yet, we still manage to develop this preconceived idea that it’s everything we’re not, either want to have or don’t have.
Nobody’s perfect, that’s just what they want you to believe.
I’m curious as to where this personal brand thing ends and where our true personalities come in? For me, it’s important that I present an authentic representation of myself.
I see my Instagram as an avenue to express myself and what I love; to share special moments that make me feel. Whether you take it as a whole and true representation of who I am is up to you. I like to think I try and be as genuine as possible. However, these are just carefully crafted snippets from my life’s diary and there’s always more to the story if you’re inquisitive enough to read between the lines.
Yes, at times I’ll hesitate before I post a photo and buckle under the self-inflicted pressure of what everyone will think but then I have to take a moment, ground myself and realise that the only one I’m posting for is me. I realised how much more stable I became mentally when I started to doing things for me and only me.
And hey, I realise all these things are just words on a screen and I’m someone you barely know pretending she’s wise without actually knowing anything. But I feel like I do know a thing or two…from past experiences. I’ve been there, I’ve felt that pressure to be someone I’m not and I’ve certainly felt like I wasn’t good enough based on image. I succumbed once and it’s so very easy to. I did the whole detox thing, thinking Instagram was the root cause of my problems but I realised it was just the way I was using it, to impress an image upon others that wasn’t true to myself.
I changed my mindset. I had to, because well yeah, social media was affecting my mental health, I’ll admit that. That person I portrayed is the person I created thinking was what everyone else wanted to see.
I felt this was an important conversation to be had especially leading into a new year.
It’s vital that we take a step back, especially at a time when everyone’s trying to reinvent themselves and become this new and improved, ‘wholesome’ person who seemingly has it all.
I think we need to think better to do better...
In a perfect world.