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A Generation Of Being “Too Cool” And How It Is Affecting Our Social Skills

Is it even worth posting if you know you are not going to get many likes?

Photo via @KendallJenner

The obvious answer is seeming to become less and less obvious as social media becomes less of a way to connect with others and more of a platform of appearing lavish.

Within Gen Z especially, it has become the norm to use social media as a kind of “highlight reel” of one’s own life. And don’t get me wrong, I love seeing these moments and seeing how people are being creative, but this need for showmanship is having real-life impacts.

I began contemplating this idea after seeing a TikTok by user @Kehlani where she discussed why TikTok is her favorite app. TikTok differs from other platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and even Twitter because many of its users base their content in reality. There are users that post whatever thoughts cross their brain or users who daily vlog realistic “day in the life” videos. The nature of the platform allows for uncut, genuine creators to shine through.

The difference between this and apps like Instagram and Snapchat is the level of authenticity. On these apps, we most often put our best foot forward which leads to carefully crafted posts that aren’t really reflective of who we are or our day-to-day lives. They show the beach trips and the fancy dinners but they lack the three hours you spent getting ready and the two hours you spent doing nothing at home while you waited to go out. 

Apps like Instagram and Snapchat work to push false narratives of our lives to present a pleasing image to our friends and peers. What is even more interesting though is how this sharing has evolved as well.

For many years I, along with I’m sure most of you, would have planned photoshoots to take pictures and post on Instagram. And while it didn’t involve anything too extreme like a professional photographer or a photo studio, it did involve a text conversation between my friends and me where we agreed to dress up and take pictures.

Nowadays, however, is what can only be referred to as “the era of photo dumps”. People have swapped perfectly posed photos with triangular angles and dreamy backgrounds for a more “casual approach.” Instead of two to three planned photos, photo carousels with ten photos showing ten different moments all bundled into one have taken over.

Photo Via @Emmachamberlain

And while this may seem like a more authentic way of using social media, it’s time we beg the question of is it really as casual as people make it out to be? In order to get these fun-loving, carefree photos, you have to care, at least a little bit. To get photos like these, the camera always needs to be out. You have to pay attention to if something will match your “personal aesthetic” and someone has to be taking the said picture of you that was “off guard”.

But have you ever stopped to think about how unnatural this really is? I feel as though whenever I do have a “photo dump” kind of moment, taking my phone out to capture it impedes on it. Part of the beauty of a “photo dump” moment is that it was happening in real life, unscripted and unedited, but the moment changes as you press record. It is no longer a shared moment between you and who you are with, but a moment shared between you, the other people, and now forever shared with a tiny machine. 

The problem is, we spend so much time trying to curate a social media presence that screams fun, yet elusive and mysterious that we spend more time creating this image than living it. By focusing on capturing these pictures rather than just living in the moment, we are losing the ability to live life without the separation of social media and our social media presence.

And we see it all too often where you view someone’s Instagram and then meet them in real life and they are nothing like you would have imagined. Those fun moments you see online don’t translate into real-life fun and you realize it was all a charade. That is because as we try to look cool online, we take away from being our authentic selves.

Photo Via @Instagram

Now there is a fine line to be drawn. I would be lying if I said I didn’t participate in this “too cool” attitude from time to time. I do plan out my Instagram and I enjoy capturing memories with my friends, but I think it needs a more fair balance in our lives. Capture a moment when it is natural or a fun photo of a friend but don’t make that your sole objective. By being mindful and drawing back from this idea of needing to look good on social media, it can allow for people to spend more time truly enjoying each other’s company and appreciating moments themselves rather than posting so other people can appreciate your moments for you. The social media game remains fun until it is all-consuming.

Hi :) My name is Jade and I am a second year at UCLA! I am a double major in communications and cognitive science and I am super excited to be apart of Her Campus
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