I have a love hate relationship with Facebook. I have been ‘Facebook free’ for nearly two weeks now and I’ve been giving social media, and the effects of it, some real thought over the past few days. I deactivated it as I was quite upset about something, I basically had a big mard and felt like I was comparing myself to others wayyyy too much. I deleted Twitter (which I rarely used anyway), Snapchat and Facebook and it has actually felt quite refreshing. I couldn’t delete Instagram; I’m ashamed to admit that I’d probably feel like my left arm had been cut off! In my opinion, Instagram is absolutely brilliant but can paint such an unrealistic picture.
The Instagram version of yourself is just an idealised version, but ends up being portrayed as your life. I’ll post photos on Instagram of my house when it’s all clean and tidy, but the reality is that the other parts of my house are still being renovated, look like a building site and at times make me feel quite down and insecure. I’ll post photos if I’m going out and I’ve done my hair and make up, but again, the reality is that the majority of the time I’m sat at home wearing fluffy socks that don’t match and no make up on. But would I ever dare post photos of me and my eyebrowless face? No.
Not only is ‘checking in’ to various locations on Facebook a bit concerning for obvious reasons, but why do people feel the need to do it? I feel like I do it because I want to seem like I’m keeping up with the same busy lifestyle as everyone else. If I’m out with Luke or for a meal with friends, I want post about it to let everyone know what I’m up to. Most week nights after work I will chill out at home, but I would never think of checking in at home saying ‘here I am again, at home on the settee in my space invader pyjamas with no eyebrows watching Vampire Diaries’. My point is that social media seems to create an idealised, unrealistic version of everybody’s lives, and for people who get a bit anxious and insecure like me, the effects of this are not good when you start comparing what you spend your time doing to what it looks like everyone else is doing.
I can’t believe the amount of times in a day that I must reach for my phone to have a look at what’s being posted on Facebook and Instagram without even knowing I’m doing it. Not only are we constantly distracted by social media but it can be addictive in the sense that it can make people feel good. In reality, we don’t get loads of people suddenly telling us they like our car, or giving us compliments on how we’ve done our hair, but on social media we do! That makes us feel good about ourselves, so we post more. Social media can make you feel like you’re being socialable without actually having to get out there and socialise. But, when you go for a catch up with a group of friends and you’re all sat there on your phones, checking yourself in and snapchatting your glasses of wine… that isn’t all that sociable (I’m not preaching because I am guilty of all these things and I hate it).
We can’t seem to enjoy the world around us without resorting back to our screens. If people see something that is strange or beautiful, they now get their phones out to photograph or record it without actually taking in the moment. We’re more bothered about getting that perfect picture for Instagram. When I look back at some of my holidays over recent years, Rome in particular, I was so preoccupied with photographing the beauty of it on my iPhone that I don’t feel like I properly took it all in to remember it and I regret that now. For me, social media is great and it’s fine if it takes up a small portion of your life. It’s when it starts being much more than that, when you need it and rely on it, that it becomes a bit unhealthy.
Despite writing all of this I know I will continue to use social media and I’m sure I will reactivate my Facebook account soon (I’m just a big hypocrite). I understand that it’s so amazing in the way that it connects us; I have distant family on Facebook as I’m sure most of us do and I love how great it is to easily keep in touch. There are positives and negatives just like there is with everything, but its easy to see that if you’re already feeling a bit low like I was a couple of weeks ago, social media isn’t always that helpful.
*These opinions are entirely my own!