The concept of faking a “perfect” life on social media has been around nearly as long as social media itself. Yet no matter how hard we try, no matter how much we lament on the inauthenticity of our online selves, the curated and edited content just keeps on coming.
The truth is we all wish our online selves were our authentic selves to some extent, and we’re good at pretending they are.
Parody Instagram account @SocalityBarbie does a good (and hilarious) job of satirizing the way we all hope to live “authentic” lives in the most beautiful, well-photographed way possible.
If Socality Barbie were a real person, she’d understand that truly authentic, non-staged moments are priceless and special and important, but they don’t get you Instagram likes. (Side note, Socality Barbie has evidently quit Instagram.)
Most of the Instagram accounts I follow are curated, minus the ones that belong to friends and family. I follow photographers, models, travel bloggers, and beauty influencers who all post gorgeous, interesting content that inspires my creative side (or simply entertains me when I should be doing homework).
No, social media is not real life, but the fact that it’s fake isn’t the problem.
The problem lies not in WHAT we post, but in WHY.
We now live in a world of instant sharing, and that world has created a culture in which our self-love comes from the affirmations of others instead of from somewhere within ourselves. Connected as we are, we never have to be alone.
There won’t ever need to be a moment where we look at ourselves long and hard in the mirror and say “this is it. This is who I really am,” and decide for ourselves whether or not we like the person we see.
There’s no need for that anymore; a handy device in our pocket can quantify just how loved and wanted and valued we are, one like at a time.
If we acknowledge that social media is not real, we can begin to disconnect what we see online with real-life expectations. We can separate social media from our sense of self-worth.
It’s OK that social media is not real life. It’s OK that it’s a fictional world made of Gucci belts and avocado toast.
Just remember that self-love doesn’t come from that world. It comes from the real one.
The real you.
So what can we do about it?
In a previous blog, I wrote about my experience in taking a social media detox. I would challenge anyone reading this blog right now to do the same.
Yes, that means deleting your social media apps and using your phone to call/text only.
It’s not about giving up social media forever; it’s about giving yourself the time to figure out what makes you truly happy on your own.
If you’re not ready to give up social media just yet, consider the following suggestions:
- Start paying attention to the moments you mindlessly open Instagram or Facebook. Is it when you’re by yourself for a minute or two? When you should be working or studying? Be more mindful of the time you spend habitually browsing.
- Turn off your social media notifications. This will keep you from wasting those 3-5 minutes of social media scanning every time your phone buzzes. You can go in and check your feeds periodically, but it will be a much more mindful action and you’ll have more control over your time.
- Put your phone away when you’re sharing a meal with friends or family (or if you’re spending time with another person in general). Channel your energy into building real, face-to-face relationships.
- Remind yourself often that what you see online is not a standard by which you should grade your life.
Do you feel like social media has affected your self esteem? What have you done to combat those feelings? Do you think giving up social media is the answer?
Facebook: Social media is not real life, but that’s not the real problem https://wp.me/p3QRy0-mGL
Twitter: There’s a problem with social media – and it might be you