Sometimes the most innocent places on the internet can become the most dangerous. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – they’re all really great in principal, but I often find myself scrolling away through any one of them (often bouncing from platform to platform) only to wind up in a crappy mood feeling like I’m nowhere near where I ought to be in my life. Sound familiar?
I’m hardly the first to share this experience – outlets such as Time, The New Yorker, The Huffington Post, National Post, Chatelaine and countless others have explored social media’s effects on our happiness and the studies done to prove just how impactful these websites can really be. Moreover, we’ve discussed ad nauseam why this is such a huge deal. It’s makes us feel lonely, less confident, unhappy, dissatisfied…the list goes on. And yet, I start and end each day with routine checks of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and email, and who knows how many times I check in between (I’d rather not know the number).
I’ve been struggling lately with these negative effects of social media – when everyone (yourself probably included) uses it to carefully curate and present a picture-perfect life, it’s too easy to let it get you down. It definitely makes it incredibly hard to stay true to yourself and stay positive, and as someone who experiences the dark side of social media on a regular basis, I try to remember a few things while I’m double-tapping, posting and scrolling away.
First, photos are rarely posted in their true, original form.
This one’s obvious, right? Ah, but it’s so easy to forget when you’re looking at a myriad of perfect photos of people’s faces, outings, events and outfits.
Remind yourself of just how many photo-editing apps are available at little to no cost, and the fact that no one is stopping you from putting a picture through two, three, four or more different editing apps before posting. Hell, if Beyonce is editing her photos we all just have to accept this as the world we live in.
I’d also recommend giving this article from Bustle a read because it’s both hilarious and painfully true. Many of those fantastic photos you wish you could like a thousand times are carefully staged, and that’s okay. I’m not here to knock Instagram (or any social platform for that matter) as a place to create and share great images, staged or not – I’m just trying to remind you that while your friend just posted the most beautiful selfie you’ve ever seen, she’s probably got 50 other photos on her phone from getting the shot *just* right.
Next reminder? People rarely live-tweet the really bad stuff.
I’m fully aware of the folks who use Facebook or Twitter as a place to air out their dirty laundry – I have many of those types on my own friends list. That said, I think most people refrain from sharing photos of things like their credit card statements, their beyond-messy apartments, tweeting about a huge mistake they just made at work or updating a status about the family drama they’re currently involved in (remember, I said most people). I also think what often gets left out is everything that goes into getting to that Instagram-able moment. Try not to judge someone for that #humblebrag – sure, it can be annoying but don’t discount someone’s hard work that goes into getting where they are now.
It’s hard being a twentysomething in 2014 – it can feel like we’re consistently performing below our peers, but that’s where my last point comes in.
We’re all pretty much feeling the same way.
Shake it off, guys.
Everyone has their ups and downs. We’re all navigating adulthood in the 21st century. We’re creeping each other on Facebook, liking each other’s Instagram snaps and retweeting our 140-character thoughts.
Focus on your own path, don’t worry about everyone else (easier said than done, but just try as hard as you can!) and remember that there’s a whole real world out there to experience, so feel free to put down the phone if it gets to be too much.