My relationship with Social Media: Make up, or Break up?

I know a girl whose one goal was to visit Rome, Then she finally got to Rome, And all she did was post pictures for people at home, Cause all that mattered was impressin‘ everybody she’s known”

The power of Social media as a tool for business growth is unquestionable. But somewhere on this path I confused myself with a business and got lost along the way. See, I don’t make any money from my social media, but I happen to have a lot of followers. I’m not an influencer, but I’m expected to post “interesting” content. Of course, I’ve put that expectation on myself; putting currency into follower count is probably where it started to go wrong. I would force myself to post daily updates to stay “current”- I’m not entirely sure what I mean by this, but I just remember reading articles that said you should post at least once a day- so I did, I’d post anything. Uploading throwback after throwback of my travels, selfies of me with a full face of makeup on, and generally making my life look pretty damn great. And it is great, but not for the reasons my pages would lead you to believe.

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My relationship with social media grew at the same time as it’s popularity. { Just as an FYI, I use Twitter and Instagram the most, and Facebook privately. } My following grew organically thanks to S/O’s from Lads mags *RIP TittyTuesday* and I was enjoying reaching so many people on different platforms, through my new found *fame* (insert extremely big finger brackets here, I use the word fame in as loose of a term as possible). Due to my job and my environment at the time, my feed was pretty much full of scantily clad females, plus a few standard celeb accounts thrown in. You would think seeing beautiful women retweeted on my timeline constantly would have set me on my way to an early social media meltdown, but ironically, this “era” was the most comfortable I’ve ever felt online. Of course, there’s a wonderful irony in this- with the argument that glamour models are bad role models for women; but seeing the bodies of my fellow peers and strangers so freely shared on my timeline with such blasé and no editing or filters, well, it was empowering. And so fucking n o r m a l. I guess you could say these were my influencers. And I sure as hell was not worrying about how even my eyebrows looked or if my lips were plump in my selfies- and trust me, I know there is some dodgy photo’s out there to back these claims up! These platforms were a fun space where we all came together on a Wednesday afternoon to tweet #Humpday pictures, swap lighthearted comments and just have fun. I remember getting messages from up and coming brands – “Hey! We’d love to send you a tshirt in exchange for a post?”‘ FREE SHIT. This was mental. At one point I was paid £50 to upload a post holding a tub of protein powder. FIFTY QUID FOR A POST. This was the best job ever, or so I thought. Of course, now I know I was hugely undervaluing my “posting charge”, do you know how much these fuckers are being paid these days? TO POST AN INSTAGRAM PIC? It’s mind boggling. Anyway, Twitter and Instagram were an exciting place; they were fresh and they were new and I was growing with them.

I know a girl that saves pictures from places she’s flown, To post later and make it look like she still on the go, Look at the way we live”

So what went wrong? I fell down the rabbit hole. The search for validation from strangers online, constantly checking my “likes” hoping my next post will be the most popular yet. And if it didn’t do well? Fuck. That sinking feeling. The confidence I felt five minutes ago when I posted it had turned into despair. Do I look shit? Do I look fat? My boobs are saggy. Should I delete it? Maybe I’ll wait ten minutes. No I’ll just delete it, it must be shit if I’ve not hit 1000 likes. I’ll just try again and upload it later .Yes, this really was my thought process. On every post. Every day. Then came the dawn of the influencers and you might as well have pitted me next to Naomi Fucking Campbell because from now on I wasn’t as good as anyone. “Why don’t I live in a house like that?”, “Why am I not in Bali?”, “Why don’t I have abs like that? A bum like that, teeth like that”, “Why don’t I enjoy eating bowls of kale?”. The list goes on. I even started posting about my “weight loss journey”, when I was a Size 10- max.

Comparison became the thief of my happiness online.

Not only am I having to Keep up with the Jones’s- I’m trying to keep up with the whole World. Which of course, you can’t. Fuck, these girls can’t even keep up with themselves. I put so much value into the opinions of strangers, that I stopped taking notice of how social media was making me feel. I felt like I couldn’t share the everyday parts of my life, the parts that made me, me- because they weren’t exciting enough, or glamorous enough, or worthy enough. This might all sound a little excessive, but I truly don’t think I’m alone in thinking like this.

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My “progress” pictures from my weight loss journey. This is what influencers do, right?

Oh God, It goes on. Having a bad day? Then I’d post, and the mere validation via the form of likes from people I’ve never met, would give me an instant feeling of gratification. This is a fact by the way. The instant “hit” from seeing a like roll in releases the same amount of dopamine as sex or a line of cocaine. So rock’ n roll.

I cannot go ten minutes without checking my accounts. I automatically reach for my phone when I’m working, and have to force myself to put it back down. Endless scrolling fills my days with mindless tweets and Instagram models that I will never look like, who live lives I will never lead. I post selfie after selfie, engaging in this constant cycle of comparison and validation, liking and posting, like I’m wired up to some automatic millennial mode. Some may even call it narcissism. Is it? I don’t think it is. I think it’s probably the opposite. A strange need to be liked by others. But I can’t stop. And do I even want to? We need to call out our social media usage for what it is, an addiction.

This light-hearted confession of my “addiction” to others is what made me take a long hard look at my relationship with social media. Instagram and Twitter have no real effect on my life, I know that, but I put so much value upon them anyway. Why do I care about what others think? Why can’t I just be happy being me? But actually, I am happy being me. My comfortable-ness with who I am right now has allowed me to be so brazen and open about my feelings for the first time in a while. So perhaps the question is, Why can’t I just be happy being me, online? I’m not sure if I’m pitching this as a rhetorical question, or an open-ended one. The answer could be obvious, but I can’t seem to grasp it.

I think in time, or that I hope, that this idolisation of others online will come crashing down, and social media will become a collection of friendly, fun and lighthearted platforms again. We’re all aware of the exaggeration of reality across the gram’, yet we feed into it nonetheless, desperate to be a part of this new-age movement of status and belonging that faces our generation. But how about we go against the current; We are so much more than our follower count, our likes and our selfies. Let’s make that our millennial revolution.

Published by

Jess Davies

Claiming a tiny corner of the internet as my safe space to share my thoughts, opinions and jibber jabber.

11 thoughts on “My relationship with Social Media: Make up, or Break up?”

  1. Solid first post, Jess. Ironic that I accessed it through Instagram though, haha. Looking forward to your future posts. (I’ve always enjoyed your comments on feminism. I’m hoping there will be more of that content at some stage. 😊)

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    1. Haha, yes there’s a wonderful irony in how social media helps us all connect and share our thoughts in a positive way- there is good in everything of course 😊 lots of Feminism discussions coming up! 😅

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  2. We humans are social animals. We desire the approval of our peers and seek to be an important part of ‘the group’. Until just a few years ago, that ‘group’ would have just been friends and family – close acquaintances irl. But, with the advent of social media and the easy-access we have to huge masses of people online, the ‘group’ that we’re a part of has swelled to encompass almost the entire world.

    I expect a lot of people have trouble with this, relating their self-worth to followers/likes. Luckily for me, I’m a loner introvert – people paying too much attention to me makes me uncomfortable.

    Best of luck figuring out an answer to this problem of yours, Jess. Fingers crossed you find a healthy and happy balance!

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  3. Your post encompasses the main internal issues exposed by Social Media. Essentially everyone is using it as so called influencers do instead of capturing actual snapshots of their lives. Influencers do it to sell products and make money. Its viral marketing in an unobstrusive manner, and one which fools Adblocker. As a mode of advertising, social media is undoubtedly effective but previous generations have not tried to live their lives according to what they see in cereal, toilet paper or alcohol commercials. I’m interested in how the social media reality has bled over into real life. There are people visiting incredible, historical landmarks just so they can get pictures of themselves there. It’s tainted the way I can experience places when there are drones, selfie sticks and Instagram husband’s obscuring the view. Another example would be people incurring debt to rent luxury cars and hotels just for some pictures. If this is the new normal, I must be taking crazy pills.

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    1. It’s definitely an interesting topic to look at when it comes to bleeding over into real life! There’s a warped reality we’re all feeding into and consuming. Thanks for your comment!

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  4. Well I’m just another one of the « came for the breasts, stayed for the brains » guys and I’m not gonna bring up anything new but I just want to say that I agree with you completely.
    The problem with social medias is that we always try to be someone else. What I mean is that because we make a huge deal of what people think about us, how many likes we get etc., we try to change who we are to better reflect what other people like. We change our expectations of ourselves, our image, even our happiness starts to depend on what other people think. And don’t get me wrong it’s always cool to get approval from other people but it shouldn’t be what drives you forward or a criteria to judge your life. We should just be who we wanna be without caring who other people expect us to be.
    I guess I’m rambling now but anyway :
    It’s always way better for your own health and happiness to make sure you’re being who you want to be, doing what you want to do, and setting the goals that you truly care about. It just feels better cause it’s the real you. Easier said than done to shut down the need for social media approval but it’s just better for us ! (you’re an interesting human being already, you shouldn’t have to pretend to be anything else just to please people you don’t know)

    Anyways ! Interesting read, very well put 🙂
    Cheers from France !

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  5. The older we get the more comfortable we get it expressing who we are in all facets of life. Socially in person and thru Social media. Being who we are is what we do best, no one can do it for us. And yes it feels good to be accepted. More do by the people we love and care about. Everyone else becomes a witness to our life not the reason for it. The outside world becomes irrelevant. None of us have a life of perfect days, perfect photos etc Sharing the non glamorous is as much important as the glamour pics and festival adventures. Simply because they show a more complete version of who you are. In that individuality you won’t compare to anyone else just as no one will be able to compare to you.

    As for Social media addiction, it’s everywhere. Millennials, Gen Xers (me) even our parents now 😩 wtf

    I paint for a living and do so with a laptop, tablet or phone within reach always 😊 I could have a lot more work done if I scrolled less. Balance is key.

    Anyway I enjoy your writing . Have a great day

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