I’m not really sure where I am going to go with this one. It’s a Thursday afternoon and should be packing to go home, but instead I decided I wanted to write a blog post and I wasn’t really sure what on, so here I am, bare with me.
I, am a 19-year-old university student who is glued to my phone, the internet, and social media 98% of the time. This probably makes me a walking stereotype, the most clued up, yet the most susceptible to the world of social media and image.
A lot has been written about this, so I don’t claim that my opinions are revolutionary, but they are my opinions none the less. I am also not going to pretend I am some ’above everyone else’ guru on this subject either, because I too, almost daily, fall into the trap of flicking through Instagram and despairing at the fact I am not a tiny, tanned, bikini wearing, green juice drinking, always holidaying model. But here is where I do differ to some girls my age, I know that is not the full story or real life. And on the flip side to that, I fully believe in girl power, so where we shouldn’t ‘fat shame’, we equally shouldn’t berate women who are slimmer or enjoy their kale liquefied. I realise I am full of contradictions on the subject, but the world of social media is sadly not black and white anymore.
Girls my age sigh and tell each other their life ambition is to just get paid to post pictures on Instagram, to get sent products from exclusive brands all the time, sponsored to go to the gym and make appearances at certain events. Is this what I should aspire to? Is this what we have been reduced to? If you don’t get a certain amount of likes on a post, are you even liked, if you don’t take the perfect picture of your brunch and post it on Snapchat, how will anyone know what you did today?
I’ve tried to write a post about something like this before but I always have so much to say and not enough eloquence to really say it, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. Recently, and I don’t judge them for this, some of my friends have said things like ‘can you like my Instagram picture’, ‘is this selfie worthy of uploading’ or, ‘can you like the video I shared so I don’t look like a loser’.
And I think it took me aback a bit. I knew that obviously, social media can be quite immersive sometimes, and I am honestly one of the biggest culprits, I am always uploading things to Instagram. But it really got to me how much validation some of my friends were seeking from it. Almost as if a post didn’t get over 50 likes they weren’t pretty or popular, and I know that for the most part, my friends aren’t like that, they’re super strong and amazing women. But if even they were asking for likes and validation online, what would other girls who weren’t as strong and secure be thinking?
I do it, I post a picture from when I went on a night out, showered, with a full face of makeup, hair done nicely looking happy. But no one saw that the next day because of deadline stress I was covered in spots, hair a mess, headache from hell and I ate marmite toast all day in my pyjamas – most of what is on Instagram is a tiny snapshot of our lives, and people go mental for it.
To throw another spanner into the works, I think everyone should be allowed to upload the pictures they want, all of the selfies that make them feel good, the bikini pictures from their favourite holiday, the gym shots because they’re proud they worked hard. But what I really want, is for people to stop thinking that the things they see online translate onto real life. That everyone has their shit together just because they can stick a filter on a picture they took a week ago, that less than 50 likes mean they aren’t liked. Do you genuinely know 50 people that you regularly hang out with, who you value the opinion of that much? So why care so much about it online?
I guess what I am really asking for here, is that everyone should be allowed to do whatever they want on social media, upload pictures, voice their opinions, share their happiness – but just don’t feel like you need that validation.
The praise, validation, opinions and compliments that are truly of value, will always get to you in person, from the people you surround yourself by, who actually mean something to you. It’s really lovely when that girl you went to college with likes that arty shot of your avocado on toast, but if she doesn’t like it, should it matter that much? You’ve spoken to her a total of 3 times in your life, should her opinion affect your happiness?
So that was just some word vomit on a page for you thank you if you stuck with me. But essentially, be happy with you, and support each other online and in person, do what makes you happy on social media and don’t care what anyone else thinks – life is far too short and so much bigger than your IPhone screen.
Much Love x