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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. 

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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 From airbrushed photos to outdated vacations to posed “candid” pictures to heavy filters to photoshop.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.”

[bf_image id="xjbjwfvrrm69g9b89cxf9"] 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.

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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. 

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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. 

Riya is an Indian-Canadian writer from Richmond Hill, Ontario. She is in her first year in the teaching program at York University! Riya has been writing her entire life; she joined Her Campus to connect with others who have the same passion and share her ideas on topics including politics, lifestyle, and well-being. Her favourite thing about writing is that it can be approached and interpreted differently by each individual based on their own personal experiences. When she is not writing, she can be found watching movies, painting, volunteering in her community, or listening to music - she has song lyrics running through her head 24/7! Riya lives by the quote; “To the world, you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.”
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