My obsession with social media and my phone is a bit of a standing joke among my family, husband and friends. I always know where my phone is and am practically never offline. The concept of social media has excited me from the onset: the idea of combining self-expression with interaction with people from all over the world has proved to be addictive. Creating accounts on every social media site possible (Ello, anyone? No? Just me? Okay then), I explored the amazing world of online life-sharing. Today, I manage my own accounts as well as Vilda’s, so it’s safe to say that social media is a big part of my everyday life. But how is all this continued exposure affecting us?
Aside from friends’ profiles, gorgeous male celebs (hello @jaredleto, notice me please!) and accounts that speak to my passions – fashion, travel, veganism and animal rights – the social media profiles I tend to follow are those of bloggers and Insta-celebs that inspire me. Most of them are travellers who dress exceptionally well and do exciting things. I follow them because their lifestyle serves as inspiration and motivation to make things happen in my own life. How do they have this effect on me? By carefully selecting what they post and choosing to only show the cherry-picked glossy bits of their lives: the new shoes, the plane ticket, the mouth-watering slice of cake, the morning run before work, the fun evening out with equally gorgeous and stylish friends. I do it myself: a scroll down my Instagram (@coffeeandheels) shows sandy beaches in Malta, heaps of perfect vegan cupcakes, hugs with friends and peep-toe stilettos that I admit I only wore for the photo. But I also try and balance it out by Tweeting about missing the train and writing about financial worries and fights with my husband in my blog. Because too much perfection isn’t only false and disconnected: it has the potential to be harmful.
Life isn’t easy for anyone of us, and being constantly bombarded with images that reflect ‘perfection’ can seem inspirational, but has the potential to create even more stress in the long run. Before social media, I was confident that most people were like me – going through ups and downs, just seeking happiness. But after getting sucked into the realm of Instagram, I’ve been forced to face entire armies of people who are better off than me: they have more money, a better body, more time and better clothes. As their ‘downs’ are cleverly concealed, their ‘ups’ become even more evident, reminding me of all the ways in which I fall short. And I’m not alone: research shows that the dynamics of social media can be harmful to our emotional well-being.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not against the pursuit of beauty. I like capturing the wonderful moments of my life and understand others that wish to do the same. I am also almost completely uninterested in scrolling through an entire feed of ‘normal life’, especially with bad lighting. I like looking at exciting things, shown through well-written text and expertly taken pictures. I understand the curating of an editorial product – because that’s what a blog is – that highlights the memorable bits of one’s life. But I desperately miss the touches of reality that make a social media channel or a blog approachable and human. I often find myself searching for something to read on the web, not just something to look at.
I am probably never going to quit social media – I don’t see the point, and unlike many people I don’t feel that deleting my Facebook profile would make me feel less pressure. What I would like to aim for is to use social media to express my creativity and do my best to grab hold of and keep those fleeting moments of magic in my life in the best way I know how – by sharing them with others.
Photos by Curious Bino and Jay Wennington via Unsplash.