In the past decade, our lives have become so heavily integrated into social media, it’s hard to imagine a world without it at this point. I love social media, I won’t lie, and this article isn’t going to be some preachy rant about why society is going downhill because of it. However, it’s worth exploring the impact it can have on our mental health, self-worth, and self-image, and the ways we can separate ourselves from the perfection we tend to see on social media platforms.
Although influencers play a huge role in what we see and consume on Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter, sometimes the most impact I feel is whenever I see posts from people in my own life or circle that I follow. It isn’t necessarily jealousy, but it’s this feeling that I could or should be doing something better than what I am doing. Why am I not going to more places? Why don’t I have as many friends? Why is my nose not as straight or my hair not as straight? These are some thoughts I toil over whenever I’m scrolling my timeline, and it can be overwhelming. I love to keep up with the people I follow, I follow them for a reason of course, but at the same time, it is anxiety-inducing.
It’s important to realize that what people post isn’t their “life” most of the time. On certain occasions, I’m sure people post the brutally honest aspects but most of the time it’s hangouts, traveling, concerts, etc. Social media is the glamorized version that we all use to post our best pictures, our best moments, the tiny glimpse we give people into our lives. I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing, but it’s vital to recognize this–especially since quarantine has had a huge impact on where we go, how much we do, and who we get to see. Many of us took to social media, especially TikTok, to stave off the boredom and loneliness felt by the COVID-19 crisis. I love TikTok, but I have to take it in small doses since so much of what I see is people getting to travel and live their lives to the fullest, and suddenly I feel inadequate, almost like I’m wasting my life away.
I’ve gotten better about this, however, and there are some different methods that have helped me realize the difference between what we see on social media platforms and reality. One way is limiting my intake, especially on TikTok; I find that I’m much happier this way and it’s helped me appreciate my own life rather than feel like I should be doing more. Also, realizing that everyone is doing the same thing on social media; posting the good moments. That’s okay, but realizing that we’re all people going through something makes social media feel less like a competition. I know that when I post something and it gets likes and praise I feel good– which is unsettling. I’m basing my self-worth off some likes on a post, and I’ve considered taking down some that didn’t have as many. Social media shouldn’t be about that– we should use it to keep in touch with friends and family, stay updated with those we admire or use it as a creative outlet. The less we worry about the likes and post what we want instead, the more we can enjoy social media as a place to be creative and open.