You Are More Than Your Instagram

As much as social media is a big part of my job and previous jobs, it’s also a huge part of my personal life and I can’t stress enough how important it is to not let social media control your life. I feel as though this is the biggest issue with our generation right now and social media has it’s positives and negatives. Looking like you’re enjoying yourself is easy, but setting your phone aside and really living in the moment is what will truly bring you happiness. I’ve seen this line somewhere before, maybe Instagram but I couldn’t get it out of my head – ‘If you didn’t post it on social media, were you even there at all?’. I still think about this every time I think about taking a snap. Why am I taking this picture? If the answer isn’t to capture a memory, the sights are amazing, everyone has to see this ice cream and come to this place, then it’s not worth it. I have been in situations on nights out where I would feel I need to snap every five minutes- WHY? Young people have always felt the pressure of looking perfect all of the time but social media has made it one hundred times worse. Before we had Facebook, we felt pressured by models in magazines and celebrities in music videos but now it’s our peers across five to ten different applications on our phones. It’s the way society is right now, you want everyone to see what you’re doing.

Don’t make your adventures all about the snaps.

On one hand, social media is destroying our social lives and on the other, it’s forcing us out of the house. The minute I discover somewhere online that I’d like to go (usually involving food) I tag a friend and plan to go there the next day. This isn’t such a bad thing but there is definitely a lingering urge to let the world know where I’ve been that day. Sometimes I think about where I want to go on my day off and I really have to fight the urge to go somewhere I don’t want to go just because it’s one of those places to be and I need to have a snap to remember I was there. I just think it’s important to stay focused on sharing your adventures with your friends and not only posting online because you’re addicted to social media. I don’t want to be fifty years old and look back over my youth remembering the great snaps we got in that fancy bar or the time we captured that video of each other riding on the back of a motorcycle in Croatia. I want to remember the feeling of exhilaration that came with it.

Do what you enjoy, not what others will be jealous of.

Something I’ve noticed about my generation is that a lot of people who look so happy on their online profiles are quite the opposite behind the camera. On nights out I see girls fixing themselves all night and sitting down on their phones, then as soon as someone takes out their phone, everyone is posing for a picture, their facial expressions having changed from ‘I’m bored’ to ‘My night is better than yours’. It’s definitely a self-esteem thing but it’s clear to me that it effects even the most confident of people. It’s an unhealthy lifestyle proving to have a very negative effect on young people’s mental health (I won’t bore you with statistics and opinions). Think about how much time you spend on your phone and how it makes you feel every time you come across an image that you admire. I’ll be the first to admit I feel jealous of my friends away on holiday or at some cool party I’d love to be at instead of heading into work. It’s a constant display of fun and adventure that not everyone is exposed to in their own lives. This can cause anyone to feel low but especially insecure young people who can’t help always comparing themselves to others. The western world is becoming both increasingly digitized and image-obsessed that it’s almost like an online competition and everyone’s in the running.

Try going cold turkey for a couple of days.

My phone is the last thing I look at before I go to sleep and the first thing I look at when I wake up (oh yes, I’m very single). Some mornings I’ll wake up, check through my Snapchats and messages and then BAM, a half hour has passed and I’m still scrolling through Instagram. Okay, so the no social media challenge is something that I haven’t mastered yet but to be fair, social media has always been a big aspect of my jobs. Maybe not everyone feels the same way, but most of my friends in media might understand this. Colleagues and referrals I’ve had over the past couple of years always remark on how important it is to have an online presence while working in this industry. If you don’t update your Twitter, Instagram, personal blog every couple of days than potential employers will see you’re not consistent. This had me stressed for quite some time because some days I don’t do anything special or haven’t come across something inspiring I’d like to share. I’m going to try and delete my apps in the coming weeks and see how long I can last. I’ll write a post about it so stay tuned! Checking my phone is like a nervous tick and I CANNOT be without it. It’s literally beside me as I sleep and in my hand at all times of the day except when I’m working. The very thought of planning when I will undergo this challenge has me anxious which is worrying in itself. I really hope I enjoy it and it becomes a regular thing.

Social media is great to check in with people, but it doesn’t sustain a relationship.

I probably don’t check in with my friends and family as much as I should because I can view their Snapchat and Instagram stories daily, I can see who’s viewed my story so I know they’re aware of my recent adventures and a bulk of my free time is taken up by pointlessly scrolling through my news feed looking for updates and gossip. Then I remember that only the good news is posted online and you never know what’s going on in the background. Contacting friends at home and abroad is best done by Skype or even a WhatsApp call, you’ll really get a sense of how someone is getting on. If they are going through something, they will appreciate having you to vent to. Most of my best friends from school are living abroad right now and we don’t contact each other enough because we’re all doing our own thing, but I’m always afraid that in another two years, everyone will still be abroad and we’ll have grown apart completely. The best thing about social media is that I’ll always know where they are in the world and what they’re getting up to but so can the rest of their followers.

Capturing moments genuinely makes me happy, it’s my Instagram bio hey!

At the end of the day, even with all of these negative aspects, I still love social media because it’s a personal and public diary. I always take pictures wherever I go because during my time away, I want to have collected all of these amazing moments and places I’ve been so that I have them to remember when I’m eventually back home. One of my biggest fears is my future self looking back at my youth and being disappointed for not making the most out of everyday I have in this amazing city and wherever life takes me next. I love looking back over my Instagram account when I’m upset or feeling lazy because it reminds me of everything I’ve done, the people I’ve met and everywhere I’ve went since now. It makes me appreciative of my surroundings and motivates me to get out of the house and explore more places. Still, every time I take out my phone when I’m at an event or out with my friends, I ask myself ‘do I have an addiction to social media?’ I really hope not. (Stage 1: Denial)

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