Hello and welcome back to another episode of ‘thinking out loud’ (I think that’s what I am going to call these little ranty opinion pieces…) do you think Ed Sheeran will mind?
Today I really want to talk about social media, and the amazing but also devastating impact it can have on peoples’ lives.
So get comfy because I have a feeling this could be a long one!
Social media platforms are incredible. Things like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. They keep people connected, and they help people form new connections. They give people a place to be authentically themselves, a place to express their opinions, their style, and their ideas about life. It’s amazing and honestly one of the best things to come out of the internet (other than internet shopping, which is also pretty great).
Using social media you can follow old friends and keep in touch with their lives. You can share posts of all the good times with your current friends. Or you can follow random people from Australia who have similar interests as you and be inspired by them.
Either way, you can be connected to people and I think that is what is so important about this form of media. It’s people about people.
I don’t think anyone could foresee the success of these platforms. When Mark Zuckerberg and his college friends founded Facebook in 2004 I don’t think they had any idea what they were starting. It was a revolution, and it continues to revolutionise all of our lives on a daily basis.
These lads probably also didn’t realise the negative effects that would come as a result.
Whilst researching for this blog post I read this article and it really hit home.
The whole principle of social media hinges in the word “social” – it’s a place to be connected and sociable. It’s a positive place. And I think that is genuinely how it all started. But it’s gone to a place now where many people aren’t using it to connect positively.
When I scroll through my Instagram feed, I predominantly see tanned, toned girls with long wavy hair in bikinis smiling and showing their perfect teeth. Or I’ll see someone at a fancy restaurant holding a porn star martini with a Gucci bag placed perfectly next to them. Gucci is literally everywhere on Instagram at the moment!
And yes, I like every single one of the above pictures. It’s like an automatic reaction, when I see an aesthetically pleasing photo, I tap the like button. And so do a few thousand other people. That is what Instagram is for – showcasing your best photos!
But that’s just it. It’s only for your best photos. It only shows the good times. The good days.
Very rarely do I scroll through my feed and see any imperfections. Like a big spot, or under-eye bags, or just something normal. It’s perfect, every time.
But constant perfection is impossible to maintain. It’s not human! Humans need to have bad times too. We need to have mini-melt downs and no-make up days. Ladies, we need to have spots!
And when we do have these moments, we shouldn’t feel ugly or embarrassed, or alone. Because everyone has the same moments. They’re just not showing you them.
What I have noticed is how much I compare myself to the people that I follow. And I’ve also noticed how many other people do the same thing. It’s a vicious circle of comparison – one person wishes they looked like their idol, and their idol idolizes someone else etc.
To some extent, comparison is human nature. But in the olden days (you know, like, in the 90s and stuff…) when social media was nowhere near as prominent in society, it was far easier to avoid this constant cycle of comparison. I’m not saying it never existed until Facebook, I’m just saying it was not as in your face. Perfect models were in magazines, on buses and on TV adverts. Now they are on all of the above, plus in your phone on about 5 different apps.
It’s no wonder so many young people nowadays are being diagnosed with anxiety and depression.
Social media is a relatively new phenomenon that has swept the world during the past decade. There is increasing evidence that the Internet and social media can influence suicide-related behavior. Internet use can cause more exposure to graphic content and lead to cyberbullying, in many cases over the past ten years cyberbullying has led to self harm and suicide (Marchant 1).
If you’ve never heard of Cyberbullicide, please do some research. It’s heartbreaking.
When I see these posts of Victoria’s-Secret-looking girls on the beach, a wave of jealousy mixed with sadness passes me. Only for a second, and then when it’s gone, I hit “like” and carry on scrolling.
It’s funny, because I never considered myself to be a jealous person. I’m generally quite comfortable in myself. But there’s something about Instagram in particular that just encourages it. It’s almost as if every post is a show-off… “Hey look how great I am, and look how great I look all the time”. Who wouldn’t envy someone who is confident and looks great all the time?!
I think it’s key to remember: No-one looks great all the time. And no-one is confident and happy all the time.
This brings me on to the movement which I have seen from some social media influencers recently. Dani Mansutti and Lauren Curtis are 2 Australian girls that I have followed for years. And they have both recently taken a stand and voiced their concern with social media and the negative effects it seems to be having on young peoples’ mental health.
They have both pledged to be more transparent about their editing of pictures. If you’ve never heard of FaceTune then you should probably google it (or maybe even download it from the app store #notsponsored). It’s basically a photo editing app where you can take a picture from 0-100 in a matter of seconds. Smoother skin, whiter teeth, brighter eyes. You can even adjust your body shape (I haven’t quite mastered that personally, whenever I have tried I end up looking like the mum from The Incredibles).
It’s no secret that this app gets used a lot in the Instagram world. And in my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with using it to enhance a picture. I use it to smooth my skin and add details where I want them. I like the way it amplifies the quality of my photos.
But what Lauren and Dani are doing is showing you exactly how they use it. Lauren has started posting before and afters – the unedited and the edited picture. So you can literally see her raw and maybe slightly less than perfect photo, and compare it to the perfect version. Dani has started mixing up her feed by posting completely unfiltered pictures in amongst her edited perfect ones.
It’s nice to see. It’s comforting, and reassuring.
It makes you realise that perfection is an illusion. Maybe I don’t look like them all the time, but even THEY don’t look like them all the time.
I think what they are doing is inspiring, and it will probably help millions of young people accept themselves. I hope it encourages people to love themselves for who and what they are. Perfectly imperfect.