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Social media has redefined what normalcy means for the average adult. For better or worse, we now have an inside peek into the lives of our neighbors, our coworkers, and our friends. We are highly aware of how they behave, what they value, and their opinions ranging from movies to politics to sports. But it wasn’t always like this. Before social media, it was a little easier to dictate our “normal” and commit to it. Of course there were television shows and magazines trying to nudge us into certain directions, but we could dictate when and how we received these messages. We had some control over how much information we really knew about others.
We are now bombarded with “real” images and videos of what our lives should look like. We have an opportunity to compare ourselves to others at the click of a button. And the vast majority of us simply are not equipped to deal with that constant pressure. We are all going to feel the effects of this stream of social norms at one point or the other – it’s human nature.
So how do we cope? How do we harness our individuality amongst a sea of conformity?
How do we maintain our confidence in the wake of social media?
It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to take a LOT of practice and a mindset determined to fight insecurity out. But you can do it, and here are some tips to help you get there.
When you are scrolling through your newsfeed, what you are seeing is a literal and figurative snap shot of somebody’s reality. It’s one moment in time. One glimpse into their life. That’s all you get.
You aren’t seeing the anxiety a person is carrying around about returning to their job on Monday. You aren’t seeing the sadness they’re hiding regarding unfulfilled potential or unmet expectations. And you definitely aren’t witnessing any stress that occurred before or after the photo was taken.
You are seeing exactly what they want you to see.
Joy. Relaxation. Confidence. Luxury. Peace.
If you aren’t one to spend hours crafting your social media presence, you might be duped into thinking social media does accurately reflect somebody else’s character. If you are one that grooms and manicures your social media, then you know exactly what I am talking about.
People spend literal HOURS of their day finding the best angle, the best lighting, the best moment, the best filter, and the best caption to depict the brand of their life.
Is that wrong? I don’t think so.
It’s an art – just like putting dedicated thought into your wardrobe or deep consideration into your bedroom decor. But is it wrong to think social media is a documentary instead of a high budget production? Absolutely.
You cannot assume that what you are seeing online is done organically and effortlessly. 9 times out of 10, it’s not. I don’t care what medium you’re on – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat – there is deliberate thought behind almost every post you are seeing. They have given their 140 characters or their Lo-Fi filter immense pondering. I can probably guarantee that they’ve also gotten many second opinions.
That is not real life. Real life is messy and random and sometimes, ugly. It does not wait for you to click “post” and it does not give a shit if you’re having a bad hair day. It piles on more when you’re drowning in student debt or going through a horribly gross quarter life crisis. Life does not care. In fact, it will do the exact opposite of your expectations just to remind you who’s boss. You cannot control life. But you CAN control social media – and therein lies the difference.
Please do not confuse the two.
So not only is social media completely controlled, it’s almost always used to share the highlights of someone’s life. Very rarely do you see an epic breakup photo of a couple mid-fight deciding they’ve had it with each other. You don’t see selfies of girls when they’re sick and blowing their nose. You don’t see interview flubs. You don’t see bad acne days or messy houses. You don’t see adults getting fired or what unemployment really looks like.
People only want to share with you the moments that they consider positive.
They want you to know about their recent engagement, their new car purchase, a fabulous night out with girlfriends, or a romantic picnic by the beach. They don’t want you to know about the in-between moments because they are either 1) very unremarkable or 2) unpleasant. Their pride is telling them to keep those moments secret – only the highlights are worthy to be seen.
In fact, if social media was a human, you’d only be seeing their “good side.”
Remember that one picture, one video, or one snap can’t summarize a person’s existence. It can’t possibly familiarize yourself with somebody else’s daily thoughts or moods. You have no idea the lows that they have survived in order to reach this particular high. So understand that you are seeing somebody’s greatest hits every time you scroll through their feed. That will hopefully allow you to see things from a healthier perspective.
Are you seeing a life on social media that you’d like to have? Do you pine after successful careers, white picket fences, or newborn babies?
Instead of letting it ruin your day, let it be your inspiration.
I know this takes a major twist in mindset, but social media isn’t going anyway anytime soon. So don’t try to beat it. Try to use it. Let it lead you to your dreams and desires. Let it help you manifest what you really want out of your next twenty years. And, let it guide you to people who can help you get there.
You have a world of humans at the tip of your fingers. And while social media can definitely make us feel depressed about the things we don’t have, a swipe of a button can put us in contact with those who DO have it. We can create friendships with those who are living lives we aspire to create. We can ask for advice, tips, and motivational input. We can try to surround ourselves with people we think we want to be like. Of course, they might not actually be living the life you think they are (read above), but you might as well try to DO something about the pressure you are feeling instead of believing that you will never get there yourself.
Think of social media as a vision board instead of a taunting board.
It’s not like just because Karen got a job at Goldman Sachs, bought a condo, and has a boyfriend who treats her well doesn’t mean you can’t also create an adulthood you’re proud of. Goldman Sachs doesn’t hire just one person a year. If you want to work there, you can. And hey, reaching out to her via social media might even help your chances! You can also start dating guys who are nice to you instead of a-holes who only text you past the hour of 10pm. And you can definitely start saving your money if you’d like to invest in real estate (unless you live in Los Angeles then good luck girlfriend).
Point is social media does not have to be this scary bratty bitch who screams in your face about all of the things you haven’t accomplished in life. You’re not a failure just because you are comparing the beginning of your journey to the middle of someone else’s. So instead, allow social media be a cheerleader who gently reminds you that you have goals you’d like to accomplish and friends who would like to help you get there.
I know it’s not easy to change this mentality, but that’s why you have us!
So let’s say you are totally aware that perception is not always reality and you have really tried your hardest to turn your Facebook feed into a vertical vision board. But – there are still a few triggers that pop up daily.
Filter. Them. Out.
Your top priority when dealing with social media should be your own mental health. You do not have to like, share, or comment on every post you come across. In fact, you don’t even need to SEE them.
If there are certain pages or people that you know will always find a way to get under your skin and tickle your most delicate insecurity, get it out of your feed. There is no need to try to resist depressive temptation for the sake of others. You might convince yourself unfollowing a frenemy on Instagram or an acquaintance on Facebook is petty, but it’s not. It’s necessary.
Or, if there is a particularly sensitive issue unfolding at the moment, maybe take a break from those on social media who exacerbate the problem. If you’re going through an epic breakup and are absolutely terrified of being single, it might be best not to stare at engagement photos all day. (PS, you will definitely need this single article and this breakup book.) It’s not weak to protect yourself for a few weeks. Let yourself heal before diving your fresh wound into a pool of salt.
You’ve GOT to remember that having a healthy relationship with social media is in your best interest. Please do your due diligence by assessing how certain accounts make you feel, and decide if you really need that energy in your life. If you don’t, unfollow.
Social media can definitely get in the way, but it should not become a road block to your happiness. Work with a Blush life coach to help clear your head, tease out your priorities, create an action plan, and get your life moving in the right direction. You deserve to feel pride in your life, and we want to make that happen for you. Sign up to work with a Blush life coach today!