Daisy Ridley recently issued a warning on Instagram on the intensity of social media and the strive for perfection. It caught my eye on Facebook, through BBC Radio 1’s article and made me realise how intense social media can be.
I’ve seen a flurry of engagements and babies, new cars and expensive shopping trips, as well as daily gym half-naked selfies and beautiful healthy meals plague my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feed. I’m so happy that all my friends are doing well and getting on, achieving their life goals at this stage, but it’s easy to get bogged down in the idea that other people have a better life than you.
That’s categorically untrue.
There is immense pressure on young people in particular when they are surrounded by perfect bodies, perfect skin and incredible social lives, to be as good as everyone else. What we see on social media is a heavily edited snippet of others’ lives – something that people have scrutinised over for a considerable time before publishing.
It’s a similar story with my job; as a social media…person..I have to be very careful with what I post on the companies’ Twitter and Facebook pages, to ensure a succinct and coherent message. Posts have to be unique, interesting, positive and have to prove to an audience that the company is very successful and useful to their clients.
People do exactly the same thing with their own personal profiles. They want to convey a specific message – some people even go as far as having their own themes on Instagram, meaning the stream of photos that they can post is even more limited.
This is not to say that people don’t address negative issues on social media; people can be quite vocal when something bad has happened to them, as they need their friends’ support. People are quick to assume, however, that because a person’s feed is entirely positive that nothing bad is going on behind the scenes. They may be going through a break-up, or they may be facing severe stress at work that they don’t want to publicise, or they may just being going through a rough patch.
Of course, such things aren’t uploaded to Facebook, but instead are kept private. What makes a person feel better is posting joyful things that make them feel happy, as a sort of distraction from what is going on in the real world.
Can we call Facebook a distraction? Is that all it is rather than a real representation of people’s lives? Whether it is or it isn’t, it’s certainly putting pressure on the people that use it, but it’s important to remember (whatever age you are) that Facebook and other mediums are simply highlights of someone’s life and you shouldn’t feel the need to compare your behind the scenes to their show reel.