In September of this year I returned from a 3-month long trip in Europe. I came back because I could only pretend to be care free for so long before I ran out of money and needed a job. At the end of the day I had to admit that unfortunately, food is essential.
Throughout my travels I found myself taking loads of pictures. Some of these were for myself, but mostly, they were for the 476 people who I don’t really know.
After Essena Oneil made her announcement of quitting social media last week, she reaffirmed that I was not alone in my feelings towards social media.
I’m going to be brutally honest about myself here in the hopes that other people can know that they are not alone. Social media can make you feel like absolute and total crap. How do I know this you ask? Because it often makes me feel that way.
Getting likes on Instagram literally made me feel good about myself. It validated that what I was doing was cool, accepted and great, that is until I refreshed the page and saw someone else doing something cool, acceptable and great. My feelings of success were only as permanent as the moment my picture was in the spotlight, and soon faded once I was forced to compare it another individual’s.
You can say this is merely insecurity and perhaps you are correct, but would I really be feeling insecure if I no longer was part of a system that made me compare, compare, compare and then contrast, contrast and contrast some more?
If I didn’t get more than 50 likes, I would feel as though I failed or came up short. As if I studied for a test that I was supposed to get an A on but only received a B+. “But this picture was so cool,” I would think, “Why don’t more people like it?” It made me question how socially well-liked I was and subsequently, made me question myself.
When I share a picture of myself rescuing a sea turtle and it gets 50 likes, but someone is super beautiful and receives 4,000 likes, things get placed into perspective. It makes you feel like what you have done or do will never be enough.
When someone doesn’t post what they’re doing in the social media spotlight many of us often assume that they are not having fun, not successful or not existing. What I realize is that those people have it right. They are the ones existing far more than you or I because instead of captioning images, scrolling through feeds and hitting refresh, they are physically living a life instead of just sharing one.
How in the moment can I really be if I document my life according to what other people will be impressed with. What happened to just feeling good enough on my own?
I’m not going to delete my Facebook because that’s how I connect with those who are far away, but today, I’m breaking up with Snapchat and Instagram because I’m tired of feeling a constant pressure to impress people that I honestly don’t even fucking know anymore.
Do I care that that girl from my English class freshman year liked my photo? Do I need to see the inside of the office of that guy who I haven’t spoken to in four years and how TOTALLY AWESOME HIS JOB IS? No.
If anything, the ability to connect with millions has taught me that I really only need to connect with a few. The most important feedback is from those who know me, love me and want the best for me.
In a society where we are all so eager to showcase our individuality, we readily jump on the opportunity to “follow” other people. Can someone please explain that to me because it quite literally makes no sense.
How will a stranger’s ‘like’ ever make me feel like I’m REALLY doing something.
Don’t say you want to live for the moment when you claim you “do it for the insta.”
Do it for yourself because otherwise, it doesn’t really matter at all then does it?