Five years ago, I made a choice to give up all of my social media accounts for lent. As you can probably imagine, as a millennial, this was a very painful decision temporary though it might have been. You see, I was as bad as they come when you’re talking self absorbed social media addicts. Phone in hand at all times. And so…I suffered through the first few weeks, unable to share my perfect selfie with the world and tormented with the inability to see what Kylie Jenner ate for breakfast. With each day it seemed to get easier. I realized that I almost felt happier, not burdened with the task of coming up with the perfect caption for my picture of last night’s dinner or obsessing over how many likes said picture had gotten. By the end of those 6 weeks I decided that I could do without Twitter and Facebook for a little longer. Today, five years later in 2019 I’m probably the only twenty-something who’s not on social media (except LinkedIn – ya know because employment).
Now, I can understand your reaction when I say that I don’t have an Instagram, Twitter, Facebook etc. I’ve gotten the same reaction from most people for the past few years – pure and total disbelief. Even I admit that I’ve taken a more extreme approach than other people out there who see the damage that social media is doing to young people. I think it’s important for me to say that I’m not “anti social media” at all. This is a personal decision that I’ve made in the last five years of my life, and who’s to say I won’t change my mind tomorrow. I think the concept of social media is great; the positive impact it’s had on society is undeniable. However, the negative impact of social media can not be ignored, particularly on the mental health of young people.
It’s my opinion that social media has morphed into something that was never intended by its creators. Its become an alternative to interaction in the real world. As more and more parts of everyday life become impersonal, I think we’re bound to be a society of lonely people. We’re able to connect with more people than ever before via social media, however this is only an illusion of community/relationships. The world is moving in a direction that’s forcing a generation to value ‘followers’ over friends.
Images we see on social media aren’t real. They have been hand selected to show one’s self at their best and are almost always edited to enhance one’s appearance. I mean really, when’s the last time you posted a picture without doing as little as whitening your teeth? Someone’s social media selves aren’t really a reflection of their life in the real world. You can be made to believe almost anything. There’s a recent trend, in which social media influencers post edited pictures of themselves appearing to be on exotic vacations. They post a series of pictures over the course of a week or so before revealing that they never even left their own back yard. This is done in an effort to show that what you see online isn’t always what it seems. It shows just how deceptive images can be. If a common person can use this type of deceptive editing to fake an entire vacation, how can you trust any image you see? Where should the line be drawn? Is cinching your waist really that bad? How about making your butt just a little bigger? And what about that teeth whitening or blemish blurring, everyone does that right?
Social media’s standard of beauty is nearly impossible to attain. If we only see edited versions of everyone else, why wouldn’t we feel bad about the unedited version of ourselves? Since I’ve been off social media I no longer evaluate my life by comparing it to someone else’s. I now realize just how toxic and destructive that kind of thing is. With so much negativity in the world, we need to take the pressure off of each other to be perfect. Most of us will never have the perfect body, so why are we comparing ourselves to models. It’s apples and oranges guys. Stop trying to be like everyone else. Love yourself, because there’s only one you.
I encourage all of you to take a break from social media – even if its just for a day. See what happens…