Follow What Makes You Feel Good Instead Of Everything That Doesn't
So, recently I was having a conversation with somebody. You know, as you do. We were chatting about all sorts of things, when this person made a remark about how ‘young people constantly comparing themselves to others on social media is what’s making them unhappy’.
I’m not convinced.
They were saying that the ‘selfie generation’ has become kind of self-obsessed, something that most young people these days are pretty much used to hearing by now. This person was telling me how they thought that constantly trawling through apps like Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook, leads to comparisons of ourselves with others, and therefore lesser value in ourselves.
I kind of get what they meant.
It’s sort of become an age-old conversation by now. You know, how social media often doesn’t depict reality and, regardless, we still get sucked in to feelings of not being good enough, skinny enough, fun enough, happy enough, whatever!
I can get totally on board with this! Imagine if every day your alarm didn’t wake you up with whatever ringtone it is that you’ve chosen. What if instead it screamed at you, “You’re too fat, you’re too boring, you’re wasting your life”. Essentially, that’s kind of the wake up you might be getting if scrolling through your Insta is the first thing you do in the morning. Except, you know, without the shouting.
And if that happened to you every morning, you’d probably start to believe it!
There’s heaps of research that supports the idea that constant social media use can be detrimental to our self-esteem, and also heaps of organisations that are trying to address this. For example, Time Well Spent, is just one campaign that’s trying to get tech companies to develop the technology we use from a more ethically-correct point of view.
In the grand scheme of life, we’re still figuring this stuff out; the morals and codes of conduct surrounding technology, where the boundaries lie, what should and shouldn’t be reflected in the law.
But that’s all pretty complex stuff, and not what this post is about.
Trust me, when it comes to questioning yourself as a result of what you’ve seen online, I’ve been there. Hell, I often still go there, but I’m working on that.
Travel bloggers with their #wanderlust make me feel like I’m either not as good at photography as I should be, or like I should have ticked off way more countries from my bucket list than I currently have done. Shirtless men with their protein-fuelled biceps make me more aware of the little layer of fat over my stomach than I would appreciate. And photos of friends in their wedding outfits remind me almost daily that I couldn’t be more single.
Yes, I’m sure the way that I react to these things has a lot to do with how they make me feel. But hey, I think it’s pretty common for people to see the negatives in things first, even if we then manage to turn that around and see the positives.
If you can do that, I salute you!
But I think what I forgot for a while, and I’m going to take a wild guess here and say that what a lot of other people don’t realise sometimes, is that when it comes to social media, we have absolute control over what and who we follow.
Apart from with ads. I’ll give you that. Those we can’t control! Fuckers.
A good friend of mine from London opened up to me once about how she has really low self-image. She was very conscious of her weight, and had gotten into a vicious cycle of negatively reinforcing all the bad things she perceived about herself.
One day, she just got fed up of seeing all the body types she felt that she wasn’t online. She pulled the plug and just culled every single account that made her feel worse about herself.
Now, if you open up her feed, it’s full of such positive role models. Accounts like @bodyposipanda have re-instilled a sense of confidence I hadn’t seen before, and following different illustrators, artists, and designers that she admires has filled her with inspiration she hasn’t felt for a long time.
Yes. I think social media and all things online can be a harmful place, and yes I think we need to navigate the digital landscape carefully in the days to come. But I don’t think that that’s all it is.
Whatever your passions, you can find them online. Whatever fills you with life, you can find that online too. Whatever playlist, account, person, organization, startup, thread, whatever that makes you feel good about yourself today, it’s out there.
You just need to remember that you have the power to follow what makes you feel good. And opening up a feed of things like that – because let’s face it, we’re probably going to still check Insta as soon as we wake up – well, that’s a much better way to start the day!