I go through extreme moments with social media.
There are times when I love it. I love the random clothing ads that it creepy stalks my data with. I love the new brands I find through the sponsored posts. It sounds so strange but I love seeing what some of my favorite “influencers” are doing. It makes me feel like I know them. I get genuinely excited to see Melissa Wood’s daughter Elanor in the morning talking about ginger in her green juice. It’s such a cute moment and it weirdly makes me smile. I love the lessons I’ve learned from Instagram. I love that Instagram has allowed me to feel connected to people that share helpful tips and recipes that I’ve grown to love and try. I love that I have done a lot of self growth and personal healing through the encouragement of influencers on Instagram. It’s a weird form of motivation but there are people that remind me to be mindful and work on myself daily. I love that it has allowed me to share some of my most vulnerable moments and inner thoughts with 200+ people. It’s a tiny following in the world of Instagram, but I have never felt more supported, understood, encouraged and driven to continue to share and feel that connection to people.
What I don’t love about Instagram and social media as a whole is the constant, mindless comparison. I don’t love how I wake up and my fingers can find the Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok apps as if my eyes were still closed. I don’t love how I wake up and immediately, willingly, compare myself and my life to others that I see through a story or a grid post. I don’t love how if I see a fit model in a bikini, I can’t help but compare my body to hers, regardless of how much self healing and growth I have done. I don’t love how no matter how happy and content I am with myself and privileged life, I compare my life to a snapshot of someone else’s “life.” I don’t love how I feel the need to take pictures with an Instagram post or story in mind. “Let’s get a photo to post tonight” is a phrase that is heard far too frequently in our society. I don’t love how people only share the good parts of themselves. I don’t love how few influencers/people use “natural looking filters” which portrays the image of flawless skin, pink and plump lips, and no dark circles around their eyes. I don’t love how addicting it has become to see pictures of other people’s lives. Like since WHEN did I start caring about a random influencer posting her morning breakfast?? I don’t but I still click on it to see it anyways. I don’t love how it has taken over most of my days. I don’t love how often I click on the app just to avoid my own life.
And what I hate more than anything is the love-hate predicament I am in with Instagram. On one hand, I love Instagram and *potentially* want to pursue a career in social media marketing or influencer marketing. Social media fascinates me and I’ve spent so much time analyzing what engages followers versus what doesn’t and what makes followers “fall in love” with influencers and how influencers can create a meaningful community. All that sh*t makes my brain tick and I feel like I have a relatively decent grasp on the inner workings of social media marketing. But on the other hand, it makes me sick. It makes me angry to know that I spent 4 hours of my Sunday browsing through Instagram or TikTok because I did not feel like doing anything else. It makes me sick how frequently we gravitate towards clicking on Instagram to forget about our own problems for as little as 30 seconds. It makes me sick at how often we compare ourselves to everyone we follow and consume.
We live in a world where everyone is trying to be anyone but themselves. Read that again. People put on a whole fake front on social media. They show their charcuterie boards, sunset drives, friend dinners, nights out, whatever you see, whatever you follow, people show a version of themselves that they want people to be jealous of. That they want people to say, “Damn, she/he has such a great life. I wish I was them.” When you post something on your story or feed, you are putting the best, most desirable version of yourself out there. It doesn’t matter if it's a smiling picture by yourself, with a group of friends, a bikini picture or a scenic picture- you are sending a message to your followers that you have a great life and you are happily living that life. Your followers then see that image and do not realize they do this, but they automatically compare the picture they see to their own life. They ask themselves, “should I be doing something like this”, “she looks so happy, I wish I felt like that”, or whatever it is, your followers are subconsciously comparing themselves to the picture you posted. It becomes a never ending cycle. And it mostly happens where insecurities lie. If your body is an insecurity, any time you see a picture of someone that has what you consider a desirable body, you compare yours to theirs and feel like you aren’t good enough or pretty enough or hot enough. If your insecurity is money and you see someone traveling around the world or posting about their lavish lifestyle, you compare your life to theirs and automatically assume that they are better than you. You assume that you are below them and you are now threatened by them or see them as intimidating. The list goes on and on.
And the sad part is that it is not something that is going to stop anytime soon. Our generation lives for comparing, for trying to make it seem like our life is great even when it might not be, for just trying to make it seem like we can fit in and that we come across in a certain way. It’s sad honestly. Everyone is trying to be anyone but themselves. Everyone is afraid to be unapologetically themselves. Everyone is afraid to be vulnerable and be who they really are. And most people don’t know who they really are because they spend their days looking, analyzing, and comparing themselves and their lives to someone else, leaving behind no sense of self. People are afraid to figure out who they are because that requires inner work and it’s easier to pick up the phone and open an app instead of getting really honest with yourself. Opening Instagram for 10 minutes feels like it is so much easier and “happier” than spending 10 minutes a day meditating and reflecting. People choose instant happiness instead of trying to work on themselves for the long term because in all honesty, it’s hard and takes years to understand who you are as a person. It’s a continuous practice for the rest of your life but it is so rewarding.
It is rewarding to not compare yourself. To be so content with who you are as a person, as a friend, as an individual, in every area of your life. To be able to tune out that unnecessary noise. To be able to stop living vicariously through Instagram. To actually start living and to start being unapologetically yourself. Because in my opinion, that is the most beautiful, honest, humbling, and desirable thing a person can ever be.
So as great as social media is, and as many recipes, tips, and positive takeaways as we’ve all gained from Instagram, I hope you do not compare yourself to someone else. I hope you do not wish that you had someone else’s life. I hope that you do not wish to be like someone else one day. I hope that you do not only put out the best version of yourself with a “jealous” mindset in mind. I hope that you do not wish you had someone else’s hair, or closet, or wealth, or health. I hope that despite all the noise on Instagram, you are able to see that none of it matters. I hope that you are able to understand who you really are and share that with others. I hope that you are your truest self and you live your best, most honest life daily.