I recently finished reading a book written by one of my favourite authors, Matt Haig. The book, titled ‘Notes on a Nervous Planet’, focuses on living life in the modern, digital world, and how we as humans are coping (or rather, trying to cope) with the changes that our endless advances within technology and society are making to our lives. Matt touches greatly on his own past experiences with mental health issues, and how the online world contributed to his struggles. The book got me thinking – and I mean really thinking – about the time that I take away from my own life to be more present in my life online. The hours I spend scrolling through Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, the time I spend with my friends trying to get that not-so-candid shot with the perfect lighting and the sleep I lose editing and uploading that picture, waiting in anticipation for the likes to start pouring in.
Now, social media is not by any means the root of all evil. In fact, it can actually bring some Good into people’s lives. For instance, I know that plenty of people have met lifelong friends and even partners through the use of social media apps such as Instagram and Twitter, and dating apps and sites like Tinder. Yes, you should always be careful with people you meet online, and must never share out personal information such as your home address or bank details. That being said, not all internet meet ups end in people’s organs being sold on the black market after being brutally murdered. As well as giving us the chance to meet new people, social media allows us to stay in touch with everyone in our lives at all times, even if they are on the other side of the world. We can follow and engage easily with those who motivate and inspire us, use it as a platform to grow our brands and businesses, or even just to scroll through our Twitter feeds when we’re in need of a good laugh. Social media provides a kind of escapism. We can so easily forget about the world around us, and delve into the digital universe filled with tweets and memes and filters and likes and…
The Bad stuff. Now, dare I say this outweighs the good? I guess that’s for us as individuals to decide for ourselves. I think each one of us has our own limit when it comes to all things social, and that includes digital. The thing with social media is that it isn’t really true to it’s name. We interact with people online all the time, yes, but with this has come less and less real life communication. Why travel to someones house to spend time with them when you can pick up your phone and Snapchat them right there and then? Something I personally find very difficult and anxiety inducing with messaging someone is that it inhibits me from being able to read their facial expressions, listen to their tone of voice or analyse their body language. This often results in me convincing myself that a friend is angry or upset with me, when in reality I have just read their message completely wrong and overthought every tiny detail. It all just leads to one big misunderstanding. Social media gives us the ability to talk to whoever whenever we please, post whatever we desire and to share each detail of our lives with the world. Not only is this an unhealthy habit that the majority of us have had at some point in our lives, (I mean c’mon, did you really need to send that tweet about how bad your date went last night, informing perhaps hundreds of people who probably do not care?), but it is starting to take away from the limited time we have to enjoy real life memories and experiences. But if you didn’t post it on the ‘gram, did it really happen?
That brings me to the Unfiltered. Ah, the internet. A wondrous place made even better with the use of photoshop and VSCO. We’re all guilty of spending hours of our lives scrolling through pictures of celebrities and influencers sporting skimpy swimwear, showing off their socially acceptable beach bods whilst enjoying a dream vacation paid for by their most recent brand deal. We’ve all said, or at least thought to ourselves, ‘I wish that was me’. You’ve probably even thought that after seeing ‘regular’ people’s posts. Maybe that girl you knew from school is always posting about having the most perfect boyfriend, or that guy from work is constantly uploading post-workout pictures to his story, making you feel like a bum for opting to eat a pizza rather than hit the gym. What we seem to fail to remember is that everyone chooses the best bits of their life to post online. That girl from school has a great boyfriend, but she’s currently watching her parents go through a difficult divorce. That guy from work has got the six-pack you’ve always wanted, but he’s recently been diagnosed with clinical depression. We can’t always control our lives, but we can control how they appear to others online. We can filter them. Edit them. Maybe make our stomachs a little flatter and our smiles a little wider.
I am not saying by any means that if you want to post a vacation bikini picture, you should not do so. In fact, that’s the opposite of the point I am trying to get across. Post what you want to post, whether that’s a sunny photo of you on the Caribbean cruise you went on or a Twitter thread featuring each individual house plant you own. Your social media accounts are your own little corner of the internet for you to enjoy, so don’t feel the pressure or need prove to everyone that your life is as perfect and Instagram-able as the Kardashian’s. Because let’s face it, even Kylie Jenner has her off-days.
I know it’s hard, it’s something I am still working on myself, but life was not intended to be lived through a screen. So try to remember every now and then to put down the phone, look away from the computer and put the tablet away. Go for a walk, get coffee with a friend or spend time with your family. We’ve only got a limited amount of time on this Earth; that tweet can wait.
Thanks for reading!
– S x