Virtually everyone with access to a computer, phone or tablet has had their lives vastly changed by the presence of social media. We receive information at unprecedented speeds. The world is literally at our fingertips. But is this a good thing? Apart from the obvious negative of wasting time looking at a screen (maybe like I am now?) and not spending your life actually living, there may be other ways that social media disrupts the way we interact with the world around us.
Something that will always remain is our constant need to affirm ourselves in comparison to others. The nosey neighbour has always, and will always, be a constant in society. However, has social media changed the way this happens, and caused levels of competition that are more skewed and uninformed?
Through their Facebook and Instagram feeds the world creates a reel, depicting their best bits, and excluding the bland, inadequate and upsetting times they endure. From this, the onlooker, sees their peer’s life highlights, and only the highlights. Why would we want to hear about a day when Sally did nothing but sit around at home eating hummus and watching Netflix? The ease of access we have to the positives people are having, causes us to notice a stark contrast to our own lives. In our own lives we live and breathe the mundanities, the tragedies and disappointments, that the rest of the world doesn’t see. As the onlooker on social media, we find it a lot harder to deal with these issues in our own lives, because we are stuck in a losing battle, comparing with what we think are everyone else’s lives.
The social media generation is swamped by information. However this information is arguably making us less informed. The quest to impress really does have damaging effects on our satisfaction from life as well as our perception of how we must be. The idea that it is ok to be sad, ok to feel worried and ok to feel upset is lost on social media. Day-to-day you’re having a really hard time but you’re going to a restaurant tonight? Post an Instagram picture of yourself having a great time! You don’t want to show people that your life isn’t perfect, do you?
The idea of these platforms is to offer methods of communication. However, we are shaping what is deemed adequate for them in a dangerous way. We are caught in a vicious cycle of being pressured by the constant highlights of others to only post our own highlights, which in turn causes others to feel the same way. But what happens when someone is feeling lost, is feeling like they are different to the rest of the happy people they are ‘friends’ with? They lose the understanding that it is ok to feel this way, it’s ok to be depressed, to hurt. Stigma to feelings of sadness therefore also means stigma to mental health conditions. Conforming to a platform where the etiquette is to not speak about issues that are effecting us negatively only leads to less chance of people speaking out when they seriously need it and seriously need help.
Why do we post to social media? Do people actually care about how you went on holiday last week? Of course they don’t. We post for recognition, for our own self-interest. To show people that are lives are great and better than everyone else’s. When we are not even suffering badly, we are being fake, cutting out any negatives and telling the world we’re fine. So when we are really suffering and really need help, what do we do? Continue to post about how things are good and how we’re fine.
I don’t really know the premise of this post and its reason for existence; I’m not telling you to give up altogether with social media. But I would say think before you go on it, before you read or post. Is what you’re writing a true indication of your life? Because it’s unlikely what other people have posted is their whole story. Strive to acknowledge that you never see the whole picture through your phone; people’s lives have far bigger and more complex dimensions than a 6 inch screen.