Escaping the Superficiality of Social Media

I was 15 years old when I first downloaded social media and I wouldn’t consider it as a decision that I made willingly. I felt so much pressure from those around me to create an account on Instagram and Facebook, as if it would give me some sort of social capital that I never had. It was the place where people communicated the most and I often felt like I was somehow missing out. Now, when I look back, I realize that I wasn’t missing out before I got on social media; I’m missing out now. 

Woman looks at a photo on Instagram on her phone. Photo by Kate Torline from Unsplash

When I have nothing else to do (or when I have several things to do), I find myself scrolling through Instagram. Lounging around? Scrolling. “Watching” a movie? Scrolling. Exam tomorrow? Still scrolling. I know how to shut off the app at the end of the day when I need to get something done or I’ve just simply had enough. But the problem is that when I turn on my phone again, it’s often the first app I go to (thank you to the iPhone Screen-Time Monitoring app for rubbing salt in my wound). One funny meme leads to another and I eventually realize that more time than I had hoped had passed by. 

Though social media can be home to funny videos and positive quotes, almost everyone and everything on social media are fake. From airbrushed photos to outdated vacations to posed “candid” pictures to heavy filters to photoshop. It isn’t like this is new...we’ve known it from the start and we’ve heard it a million times before: “don’t believe everything you see on the internet.”

woman filming vertical video of woman throwing confetti Photo by Amanda Vick from Unsplash But it isn’t just about the nature of the posts. It’s about the nature of us as people. Everything we do in a public space is performative because we are trying to project a particular version of ourselves to the world. Don’t get me wrong, I’m guilty of this too. However, it starts to become particularly problematic when you lose sight of who you really are and begin to evaluate yourself against the standards of other people. It doesn’t help when you’re feeling insecure about something and then go on Instagram and see a photo of a person who seems to have it all. 

Like many people, I have struggled with body image and personal insecurities. It’s not fun constantly viewing yourself through a lens of inadequacy and it’s even worse when you know that what you see is just the best projection and not the everyday reality.

Photo by Sam Manns on Unsplash

That’s why it’s extremely important to control what you see. I unfollowed celebrities. I unfollowed people who I wasn’t that close with. I unfollowed people who hurt me in the past, because I knew that anytime they posted, a flood of negative thoughts would come to my mind. And let me tell you, it was game-changing. 

black curly hair from above Photo by Honey Yanibel Minaya Cruz from Unsplash

So, do what you need to do to make yourself feel good! Go on an unfollowing (and positive following) spree, or even deactivate your account to focus on the world around you. Don’t miss out on the real-life moments that are too precious to let slip by. 

There’s power in having the ability to shut out what hurts you and let in what makes you feel good. There’s power in acknowledging the fakeness of what we see and are so that we can work towards making the world, even the virtual world, a little more real.