“How different would people act if they couldn’t show off on social media? Would they still do it?” – Donna Lynn Hope
It seems as though the nastiest wars aren’t fought between countries over a piece of land, but more so between two Twitter handles over a difference in opinion. We pride ourselves and find worth in how many followers we have. Our friend base is not so much about who we see on a day to day basis, but about who comments and likes our stuff the most. So much our identity has come from our profiles on social media, but social media is not reality. It’s a string of filters and exaggerated personas deceptively showing off that that either we have better lives than we really do or creating woes that aren’t as big in reality.
SOCIAL MEDIA AND BEAUTY
Have you ever seen one of those Instagram models? Of course you have, you live in the digital age.
Before the era of Instagram models, I read a lot of teen magazines such as Seventeen, Cosmo Girl, Elle Girl, Teen People, and Teen Vogue. While showcasing the “perfect” body wasn’t as in your face back then, I do remember the many issues with body image.
We are constantly being marketed diet pills and the next trending diet. It wreaks havoc on the way we view beauty and unfortunately, social media only accelerates the damage.
You don’t have to look like an Instagram model to be considered beautiful. I fell victim to the mindset that I had to be like one of them to fit in. So on my vanilla social media profiles, I have photos of me half naked showing off my body. I wanted people to see that I had that bubble butt because I found validation in all the likes.
Having the perfect body wasn’t all that I fell for. I had spent thousands on beauty products that I no longer use. There were selfies everyday showing off my hair and makeup because the beauty gurus were doing it. My makeup had to be perfect; my brows were always on point. But let’s be honest, I probably looked more like a basic bitch. I was like every other beauty guru on social media and it was fake.
In 2014, Colbie Caillat released the song Try. And it really points out that we do these things because we’re trying to belong, but we really don’t have to change who we are. We don’t have be what everyone else is to be beautiful. I really appreciate the second verse.
“Wait a second,
Why, should you care, what they think of you
When you’re all alone, by yourself, do you like you?
Do you like you?”
SOCIAL MEDIA AND COMMUNUTY
But I get it. I think we’re all searching for a place where we belong. We’re all searching for some sort of community even if we may be introverts and social media allows for that. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn or even Fetlife, you will notice that there are inner circles or these smaller communities within each platform.
I think the need to be accepted by these communities plays a huge role in why we try to look “perfect”. But these communities are not perfect. Just looking at what Twitter has looked like over the past few months just goes to show how flawed the sex blogging community is. I’ve seen it used to tear people down for having a different opinion. And I’ve seen people act as judge, jury, and executioner without a fair trial. This breeds a nasty infection called hate amongst our community and it spreads quickly.
It’s not all bad though as yes, sometimes social media can bring the support we need in times of trouble. This is especially true during this pandemic and lockdown. Or if we look at the communities made up of those with chronic illness, we can see how social media has been used positively. They were suffering alone, scared and confused about what would come next and then they found a community who is experiencing things with them. That makes it a little less daunting.
SOCIAL MEDIA AND VALIDATION
But we have to be careful not to rely on social media too much. Steven Hopper writes, “In this day and age of social media and the internet, it’s easy to conflate “likes” as the true sign of validation.” I have to wonder if this would constitute as co-dependency. If we took away all the “likes” and “follows”, what would happen to you? Could you still be happy or would you lose a sense of self?
In a way, I think that we use social media to distract ourselves from dealing with our own pain. Deep down inside someone hurt us. Someone left us. So we flock over to Facebook or Instagram in search of validation that we aren’t totally unlovable. But, that’s a dangerous habit to get into because then we are placing our self-worth in a pixelated screen. There is more to life that what people on the internet think of us.
Whether or not people click the “like” button, do you actually like yourself? If the answer is no, you need to know that no one else is going to be able to change that. Changing that mindset is entirely up to you.
I AM ENOUGH
“To everyone who says I’m beautiful
To every man that gave me up
If everybody cares or hates my guts
It’s all the same
I am enough
For all the people who don’t like my hair
And all the ones who build me up
For all the love and hate that’s come my way
I’ll be okay
I am enough” – Cimorelli (I Am Enough)
Whether or not, I am loved on social media, I am enough. What others think of me is not my identity.
Toward the end of the song, they sing:
“For all the words they said that cut me down
And all the ones who gave me up
No one can dim my light
Or shut me down
I’m still alive, and I am enough”
In the digital age and in times of cyber bullying, these words are important to remember. With cancel culture being a trend, if someone decides to “cancel” you, definitely remember these words. No matter what others say about you on social media, you are more than enough.
And perhaps, I’m the one who needed to hear these words the most.
Image from Unsplash