March 13, 2017
It Isn’t Real
Social media is a wonderful invention that allows us to connect with our friends, our friends’ friends and our idols. We get to see their perfect clothes, perfect homes and perfect lives as we strive, to the best of our ability, to mimic their perfection. But, and now here’s the shocking part, what if I don’t spend my Sunday mornings at a fancy brunch, sipping on mimosas? What if I don’t spend my days buying things from Gucci off Rodeo Drive? My self esteem takes a nose dive when I look down at my glass of tap water and fake Ray Bans. Why can’t I be as glamorous as the people I see on my phone screen?
Why does it hurt so much when my carefully orchestrated photo in front of a fancy restaurant with a bougie outfit only accumulates 28 likes? Why should I care how many likes I get? Well as a society, we also use social media, in part, for attention. When we don’t get that attention, it hurts more deeply than if we had never even posted in the first place. So why do we continue to put ourselves through this kind of torture? Simple. We want others to envy us. It doesn’t matter if they are complete strangers or if they are our closest friends, we want them to want to be us. Lindsay Correia, an avid social media user, explains why she uses social media in a report by The Guardian. “I use Instagram just to give people a glimpse into my life. And I like that I can show the parts that I want them to see and make them think I have a cooler life than I do.”
Social media is a place where we can show off our best selves, but it adds immeasurable pressure to actually be our best selves 24/7. What we show on social media, isn’t who we truly are. Even though I know Lexi doesn’t go to Hawaii every month, I can’t help but feel worse about myself as she posts effortless bikini photos on the beach. I know they’re all from the same trip, but I can’t help but feel less than her because I didn’t take a trip to beautiful Hawaii over Christmas Break.
French researches conducted a study in 2013 and found that the more time we spend scrolling through our social media and the more time we spend comparing ourselves to others, the more depressed we get. Those mimosas and Gucci bags are strategic marketing from brands endorsed by our favorite celebrities. It’s not real life. But we don’t care, we still yearn to be like the perfect elite. This causes us to feel like we aren’t good enough, that we’ll never be or have any of the wonderful things that are plastered on social media.
Social media can be a great way to express ourselves, but it can also be a Segway into mental health issues such as depression. Constant comparison between myself and my friends and my idols can have negative effects on my self image, worth and esteem. We can’t continue to compare ourselves to the unrealistic photographs we see on social media, we have to remind ourselves that this isn’t real.