Real girl in a real world
So, I think I'm writing this post mainly for myself, I may be the only person in the world who feels like this but, I am 99.9% sure that there will be other people out there who share this opinion or who can associate.
Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, personal blogs. As a 20 year old student usually no more than a metre away from her phone I use these platforms daily, scrolling away capturing a glance into the lives of other people blissfully aware of the damage I am doing to myself. Now, before you stop reading, I'm not going to lecture you about how you should stop using social media, I'm not going to tell you to put down your phone, I'm simply going to explain the situation I feel like I have found myself in and how I think I can help myself (and maybe others will feel the same).
It goes without saying that January is a pretty dull, cold and boring month and sometimes people can be a bit down in the dumps. However, this weekend (the last weekend in January) I found myself feeling that extra bit miserable. Yes, I may just be a typical, hormonal student, slightly disappointed to be starting my new modules and already feeling the pressure, but, thinking about it, I think my reliance and obsession surrounding social media could also be a contributing factor.
After watching Jim Chapman's documentary "Rise of the Superstar Vloggers" it dawned on me how these platforms are feeding their viewers often unrealistic expectations of the world and how we should live our lives. Now, in no way am I suggesting that all content creators are guilty of this as many YouTubers share large quantities of their lives including the not so positive parts. For example Zoella shares stories about her anxiety and many people blog about illness, the realities of being a parent and other struggles which they may be facing or have experienced previously. However, it is important to remember that many vloggers/ bloggers (for obvious reasons) only show the better parts of life, the happy family days out, the beautifully cooked meal they've just eaten, the pile of new clothes they've just bought. This doesn't mean they don't experience the down moments/ little hiccups in life the majority of us will experience, they just chose not to share it with the world! This also doesn't mean they do the "good things" every day of their life therefore you don't have to either!
I think Instagram causes the biggest problem for me (if you can call it a problem?!). After being presented with hundreds of perfectly presented meals, super slim women in the latest gym gear, beautiful sunny scenes, clean houses and happy faces all usually immaculately presented I find myself constantly looking for the "prefect snapshot", but why? To prove to the world that I'm one of these people too? To prove that I am enjoying life? I really do not know the answer but it means I find myself missing out on the moment because I'm absorbed in my phone too busy trying to capture it! Obviously I'm not suggesting we stop taking pictures, hell no, I love looking back at old pictures, I think they just need to be more natural and show the moment for how it really was, not perfectly positioned, with superb lighting and a perfect smile (obviously if you managed to capture all that without trying would be good but lets not always go out of our way to pose for a fake situation). Not everyone has the money to have the latest makeup products and line them up to photograph them, not everyone is able to go out and have the most amazing day like many Instagram posts would suggest. Also, BREAKFAST. Avocado on toast, eggs Benedict, pancakes,waffles, granola, chai bowls (?!)... as much as these look amazing, please remember people, it is OK to have cereal, you are not failing in life if you didn't have any of the above this morning.
Additionally, another issue I have is the fact that, from looking at peoples posts on Instagram, I constantly feel like everyone is having a better time than I am (Yes I have severe FOMO - Fear of missing out). Sundays are the worst. Traditionally Sunday = day of rest/ family day/ Sunday lunch/ just chilling out and, scrolling through Instagram (and usually watching vlogs from a Sunday), usually consolidates this construction of how a Sunday should be. However, what's the reality? For many people, Sunday is still a day of work, which, when looking at others "Sunday Chillday" posts, can be pretty hard to swallow. I've recently found myself feeling super angry when seeing these particular posts. Now, you're probably thinking, "shut up you stupid girl, people can post what they want, they might have worked all week (unlike you) and Sunday just happens to be their day off" and I would agree with you. My point is, to myself (and anyone who can associate with me), I need to remember that. Instead of constantly comparing myself to the people I follow, I need to take into consideration that these photos don't portray their whole life, they are simply a snapshot of one moment, they might have had an absolutely S**T day but managed to capture one nice image. They might have worked for 10 days running and this is their first day off. They may have serious issued going on behind the camera which obviously no one is aware off. Just because their pictures/ videos/ blog posts look perfect and like they're having the best time ever, no-one but them knows the true story. I commend the people that share even the dark moments of their life and I think it is really important that people do but I don't expect everyone to so which is why we need to remember this is just a snapshot.
I think what I'm trying to say is two things. 1) Be critical (I'm sounding like a University Lecturer now, sorry), but, don't take a photo/ video by face value and compare your life to it. Remember this is just how people chose to present themselves, and like many of us, we don't want to share everything, these photos don't define their whole life, their life could be chaos! Also, 2) if you are creating content, don't put pressure on yourself to capture the perfect image/clip. After watching The Michalaks for a few years it pains when they feel guilty because the haven't managed to get out and do something which they can share with us, they often say they feel bad because they haven't managed to go out to a beautiful place and capture some "silky montages" for us, but the reality is guys, we don't expect you to always have these amazing adventures, (obviously it's lovely when you do but,) we want to see the normal aspects of your day to day life which we can empathize with. Many families spend all week working (or week/weekend) then use their days off to do the mundane tasks which they don't have time for during the week (which, I must say, Hannah & Stef often film aswell). This means they don't have time to go explore new places and capture those moments as much as they would like. I again get severely miserable when feel like I "waste" my days off, I often think "right, I've earned this day, I need to go out and do something really exciting" but the reality is it's not always possible, of course if you get the opportunity you should grab it with both hands but you shouldn't get down when you just have day off and don't do something "Instagram or Blog post worthy", it's OK just to have a day to yourself. As a side note for example, I constantly see images of friends and family who have traveled far and wide, often on a gap year. I had a gap year but I honestly did nothing exciting, I simply worked. When I discuss this with new friends I always feel like I should have exciting gap year adventures to share but, more often than not, they say there is no problem with working as I managed to build up my bank balance and if travelling isn't for me then I shouldn't feel forced to do it.
Have I waffled? I don't want to sound like I'm ranting because I'm not. Social media fascinates me and I think it brings so many benefits to our ever modernizing world, I don't want to stop using it I just want to be more critical of things I am presented with and stop comparing myself with others. Your life is what you make it, you're not a failure for just having Cornflakes for breakfast or not wearing the latest fashion, not everyone is perfect 24/7 even if they look like they are.... I promise.
I hope at least one person can sympathize with me here, I hope I'm not just a nutter that's thinking about things too much!? What do you think?