When it comes to social media, you either love it or you hate it. And for a long time, I absolutely loved it.
Being able to share my life abroad with family and friends by uploading a photo or writing a short post, definitely had it’s advantages. And well, in all honesty, still does. I no longer have to worry about expensive phone calls or sending the same picture multiple times. And as a bonus I’ve been able to connect with like minded people along the way.
But with the rise of social media and the ways in which the platforms are being used, it has come to my attention that as much as it’s a blessing, the reality is, it can also be a curse.
When I look at Instagram, which is the main platform I use, the majority of accounts I come across display only a reel of highlights from that person’s life. Now while there’s nothing wrong with this, I do think it’s important to recognise it. To recognise that it’s not a complete representation of who they are.
Take my account for instance. You see a lot of pictures from my travels, but what you don’t see are the long hours of work I do to fund those trips, or the charity work I do in my spare time because it’s something I’m passionate about. All you see is the part of my life that I actively choose to share.
When I created my Instagram account, it was so I could share my travels with family and friends. But when I started getting messages from people I’d never met saying things like, “your life is perfect”, it made me think twice about what I was sharing and the impact it was having on others.
I mean yes, my life is pretty great, but it’s not perfect. What you don’t see, and what I have chosen thus far to keep private, are the struggles I’ve faced over the years. Like my mum passing away from cancer and the end of one of my relationships. Those things have been quite personal to me and it didn’t feel right to post them so publicly.
But as I walked to work the other week, comments made by two woman in front of me, things like, “her instagram and facebook are amazing,” “she always looks so perfect,” “I wish I looked like that,” “her life is so much better than mine,” “do you think she’s skinnier than me?” opened my eyes to the reality versus highlights of social media.
Whosever account they were looking at, may have gone through tough times like myself and many others out there, but because it wasn’t openly displayed, all these women saw were picture perfect images. And that’s where the bad side of social media comes into play. It can be so damaging to so many people, especially those who look at various accounts and compare themselves to others. It can cause unhealthy feelings like jealousy, hate, envy and even feelings of inadequacy.
Not to mention the fact, that I recently had a friend text me asking if I wanted to go for brunch a specific place because it’d make for a good instagram picture… I mean whatever happened to catch ups at the local coffee shop down the street???
I mean, don’t get me wrong, social media absolutely has it’s positives. It’s a great creative outlet, a great business platform, and I myself have been able to inspire and connect with likeminded people, which is why I will continue to be part of this social media universe. I just think moving forward, it’s important to remember that what we we see is only a fraction of someone’s life. It may look glamorous and more appealing than our own, but at the end of the day, we’re all the same. We all love, we all hate, we all feel joy, we all feel pain, it’s just that some people choose not to share it all with the world.
It’s because of this that I’m going to make a conscious effort to post more of my everyday life in addition to my travels. I enjoy photography and want to get better at this as a skill, so I’ll always try and post nice pictures, but I want those who visit my account to see the REAL me. Good days, bad days, work life, travel life, my struggles and triumphs. Because at the end of the day, no-ones life is 100% perfect.
And when it comes to posting a picture or a status update, forget the whole numbers game! If you want to post a picture then do it. Don’t think about how many likes it can get, and don’t feel devalued if it doesn’t reach what you were hoping, because likes and comments are not a reflection of our worth.