In a world where comments, shares and reactions are currency and influencers are well, influential, I realise I might sound a little stale if I share a warning about the dangers of too much of an obsession with social media. Before you imagine my words in the voice of your grandmother warning you not to sit too close to the television or your eyes will go square, hear me out. Actually, don’t hear me out.
I’ll borrow a point from Anthony Moore’s article, Five Behaviors Most People Do That You Need to Stop. “Most of the individuals who use social media use it as a platform to promote a false image of their ‘perfect’ lives to the world. According to their Facebook or Instagram, they’re always on some adventure, eating Pinterest-level meals, and having fun with beautiful people. Of course, this isn’t true. Social media is a ‘highlight’ reel that only shows about 5% of how life really is, but it looks like it happens 100%.”
The danger of course in comparing yourself to 5% of curated perfection dressed as real life is that it’s an impossible benchmark. This might not be a problem for older more jaded people like myself but for the younger, more impressionable amongst us, it could be a dangerous. Not just square-eye dangerous but properly dangerous. It is human nature to define our worth against our peer-group. But if that perception is warped, our value of ourselves becomes warped. I do think that social media is awesome. It is awesome for connecting with friends and family and sharing crazy Russian car crashes, but it’s not so awesome if we use it to measure ourselves against.
With more and more focus on youth suicide and mental health and more and more openness around this, it would be great to create a realistic context for our kids and young adults to define themselves against and to feel like they can be open and honest about the things that don’t fit into that 5% of perfection, because of course life isn’t perfect and depression and feelings of anxiety are not abnormal even if they don’t make for great Facebook posts.