I know there are hundreds of articles condemning social media for the mind fuck that is seeing beautiful people living beautiful lives, capturing effortless moments of shiny hair, and caught in-the-moment laughter. Despite this, I feel such a strong need to put my two cents down.
I am an educated, successful, smart, fun, person who has to remind herself of these things daily, namely after a long scroll on Instagram. Instagram is not good for me, it does not promote positive mental health in my life. Facebook isn’t safe either. Most people link their Instagram to their Facebook account, which means at least once a day I’m faced with the idea that what I’m doing in life is not enough.
It’s impossible for me not to compare myself to my friends, acquaintances, strangers even. Women my age, traveling to Bangkok, getting promotions, and gorgeously eating ice cream cones at stunningly minimalist creameries. It all, ALL OF IT, makes me feel bad. Maybe this says more about my self-esteem than social media’s influence on it, but I have a hard time knowing where one ends and the other begins.
I know I’m prone to poor self-esteem and competition. I’ve always been someone who wants to do the best, be the best. Most of the time this need for an edge manifested into academics and career, and that was enough. That satisfied me. But now, faced with the onslaught of information of other people’s lives, I also feel a need to have an edge in my personal life. How fucked is that? Its this feeling that I need to spend my time a certain way, have a certain amount of girlfriends who like to brunch — it’s the pull to try that hip new bar and take a gorgeous photo of it.
The funny thing is that I don’t normally act on these feelings. Even though these feelings can consume me, I rarely actually go to the ice cream place and remember to take a photo. I’m too busy eating my damn ice cream. But the real mind fuck is that sometimes, for a split second, I’ll get mad at myself for diving into my ice cream sundae before taking a photo of it. I’m realizing that social media is changing the way I think and has the potential to change the way I act.
I feel so burdened by this weight and expectation of keeping up with the joneses. I suppose I could close all of my accounts and cut myself off from the crap, but I feel that the damage has already been done. Social media created this gross need for me to know what everyone is doing — and let’s be clear, it’s a need not a desire because desire suggests pleasure, and I’m sure as hell not getting any pleasure out of this. OKAY FINE, the Tasty videos are weirdly satisfying, and what monster doesn’t melt watching puppies being rescued, but for the most part, my time spent on social media is entirely self-destructive.
So what do I do? Positive affirmations, limit myself to minimal use, become a hermit, focus entirely on work? I’m not sure what the answer is.