Thursday Chats: The (Un)Realities of Social Media

Happy Thursday, everyone! We’ve almost made it to the end of the week! Today’s post is another installment in my Thursday Chats series. This one is a discussion about social media, with a focus on the makeup/fashion/lifestyle community in particular. I tried to be as concise as possible, so I’m sorry if I get rambly!

I think by now, we’re all aware that a lot of the posts we see on social media are not real. Rather, a lot of it is staged snapshots of people’s lives. Much of the content you see online is highly set up, curated, and edited to showcase that “ideal” lifestyle. However, even armed with this knowledge, it comes as no surprise that social media has a negative impact on our mental health. Not only is it addictive for many people, but it is also leads to dissatisfaction with our own lives.

On the surface, social media is a resource used to connect with friends and family and to show other people what we get up to in our daily lives. Unfortunately, like with all technology, it comes with a dark side (Black Mirror, anyone?). In terms of social media, it has inevitably become a means of comparison. We see these beautiful life moments that other people are sharing, and we’ll unconsciously compare our lives to what we see online. It can make the best of us feel that our own lives are inadequate, and can become a breeding ground for feelings like jealousy or inferiority.

It’s definitely tough to see other people living fabulous lives when our own seems so plain and boring because we’re going through the every day motions of life. Not to say my own Instagram is envy-inducing in the slightest – I tend to only post makeup photos with maybe some food or travel photos very sporadically, but I’m just using it here as an example here since it’s what I’m most familiar with:

Polishedandinspired_Instagram

polishedandinspired

At the beginning of the year, it was pink, and now it’s bright pops of colour! Obviously, you can tell that I edit the crap out of my photos to make them more appealing. In reality, I sit in a beige office with beige walls and a beige desk 8+ hours a day, 5 days a week – it’s not at all glamorous. I make my Instagram account bright and colourful because I find it fun and challenging to make my Instagram grid look cohesive – the second I’m not into it anymore, I’ll stop doing it because things like that shouldn’t matter. By the way, I didn’t even realize that a cohesive grid was a thing until late last year. When did this become a thing and why do people even care?! Anyways, I’m getting off track. What I’m trying to say is that it’s not a realistic depiction of my life, and I will be the first to admit that I am part of the problem, too.

I’m not someone who lives their life on social media – yes, I’m a blogger, but I rarely use my personal Facebook or Instagram accounts anymore, and I have a hard time keeping up with my blog Instagram account because I’m mostly busy just trying to live my life offline! I try not to have my face buried in my phone all the time, but when I do go on social media, I still sometimes can’t believe how fantastic some people’s lives look. All that travelling, the pretty clothes, the amazing food – heck yes, I want that to be my reality!

Social media does a pretty good job of giving us unrealistic expectations about what life is supposed to look like. People take a lot of  time trying to get these perfect snapshots of their lives. Sometimes they even go out of their way to capture these “Insta-worthy” moments – that’s why you always hear people jokingly use the phrase “do it for the ‘Gram”. The thing is, we never know what goes on behind the scenes of these picture-perfect moments. Adorable kids with captions about being blessed with the most wonderful family, perfect bodies in bikinis, and absolutely massive makeup collections on marble counters – we are constantly inundated with images of perfection, but what we see is the filtered end product and not the process. Maybe the kids had a meltdown right before the photo was taken, or maybe the fitness Instagrammer had to take 200 bikini shots in different poses just to get the perfect one to post online. You just never know the reality.

Not to mention that after the photos are taken, even more time is spent on choosing the photo to post, and then editing it to make it look as eye-catching as possible. People purposely design their posts to look like their lives are interesting. We see other people’s amazing photos, so we chase those “Insta-worthy” moments ourselves just to keep up. Then other people see our Instagram posts, and will do the same thing. It’s a vicious cycle! The thing is, we have never been more connected than we are now, which makes it tough to turn off all that sensory overload – you see it first thing in the morning and last thing at night, you see it on the way to work and maybe even during dinner. I’d like to think I’m a pretty well-adjusted adult, but I still feel like I’m missing out every now and again. How are impressionable users such as teenagers, who are on social media constantly, supposed to survive?

I used to follow a lot of accounts because their photos were aesthetically pleasing. Then I started realizing that I wasn’t gaining any pleasure from looking at these photos – while they were whimsical and beautiful to look at, they were so over the top and unrealistic that I couldn’t connect with them. Not to mention that these Instagrammers have so many followers that they never interacted with me. Plus, these photos made me feel bad, when I have so many things in life to look forward to and be grateful for. Part of me wished that I could make my Instagram look like theirs because the photos were so stunning, but the rational part of me realized they were so far removed from real life that I no longer was interested in looking at them – why would I want my own photos to look like that? I get so much more out of social media when I actually interact with people and use it to share my thoughts, opinions, and advice.

I don’t know if there’s any way around feeling crappy about what we see online. I guess my best advice would be to try and have as balanced of a relationship with social media as possible by not overdoing it with how much time you spend on it. Maybe instead of worrying about getting impressive photos so much, try using it as a way of connecting with people who have the same interests as you. I’ve gotten to know a few girls who don’t actually read my blog, but we always support each other on Instagram. That’s what I love the most about the beauty community! Also, realize that no one’s life is perfect – who cares if you’re not posting “Instagram-worthy” photos like other people are, as long as you’re living a fulfilling life, spending time with people you love and doing things you enjoy. It might sound cliche, but it doesn’t matter if these moments are captured to show to everyone. Those moments are in your memories and at the end of the day, that’s what matters most. Is that enough 🌽 for you?

Those are my thoughts on the role of social media in the beauty/lifestyle community. How do you feel about social media and the part it plays in your life?

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15 thoughts on “Thursday Chats: The (Un)Realities of Social Media

  1. So well written! I agree with everything you said and I have definitely been sucked into as well. I’ve learned to step away from social media and only post when I feel like it. The older I get, the less I care about impressing people I don’t know.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this post so much. I used to care so much about how I was coming across on social media, my instagram especially had to be themed and the feed had to be “perfect” but now I post what makes me happy and by doing that, I’ve realised I actually enjoy social media a lot more. Great post ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this conversion. 💜 I was actually talking to someone the other week about the exact same thing! The problem with being so caught up in social medias is that we miss a lot of important moments in our life…we’re not really “there”. Think how many shots people get sometimes for a perfect food photo before they can eat it? That’s actually kinda sad when you really think about it. That moment when you should be enjoying food with a loved one but then you’re caught up taking way too many photos of it.

    My actual phone is still in repair shop and whilst I do have another phone, I’ve been on there a lot less as recent because of work. I’ll check some of my social medias during breaks but definitely nowhere near as obsessive as I’ve been. I find that I’m enjoying life WAY MORE this way. I don’t know if it’s just cos I’m in a new environment though but I’m definitely not missing out on any moments and funnily enough, I have a bit more free time and peace of mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s so true, we DO miss a lot of moments because we’re not completely living in the moment. How often do you go on vacation and see people running up to an attraction (monument, scenery, whatever) and snapping a dozen pics and then dashing away? They don’t even stop to enjoy what they’re seeing.

      LOL I’m so guilty when it comes to food pics – my husband gets so annoyed. And then I don’t even do anything with these photos!

      That’s awesome that you’re seeing the benefits of being away from your phone (since you have no other choice). It really makes you realize how reliant we are on being connected, and how much we actually don’t need to be connected all the time.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Very well written! I think that social media definitely adds a new element to life that certainly wasn’t there 10+ years ago. While I remember life without it, I can’t imagine what it is like for kids growing up now. I could see it being very damaging to young girls when your self-esteem is at an all-time low. I definitely hear you on the “can’t believe how fantastic some people’s lives look” I feel this way a lot when I see Instagrammers who seem to travel an unusual amount (then it makes me wonder how recent the photos really are) and fashion Instagrammers. I am definitely looking forward to weekends at the cottage this summer to disconnect a bit from the social media world 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Robyn, glad you enjoyed reading! You bring up a good point, I think childhood without social media was much more simple, and I’m glad we got to grow up without it, to be honest. It’s the travel photos that get to me the most, too – you’re right though, I have a sneaking suspicion that they space their photos out and/or post photos from old trips.

      Weekends on the lake are definitely the best time to get away from social media!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi! I completely agree with your perspective in this post. Social media can be very addictive and somewhat damaging if you take it very seriously. I think you just have to keep in mind that what you’re seeing isn’t, for the most part, real. Images have been manipulated and only the best moments have been selected to be shown.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I have to set boundaries for myself with social media, It’s so hard to keep up with posting and interacting all the time that I have to set aside specific times of the day that I can be on the gram/on the blog etc.
    If I’m out with people I don’t let myself be glued to social media or else I’ll forget to live my non-virtual life.
    The cohesive grid thing is so frustrating, I miss when nobody cared about that on social media! As soon as my grid slips up I noticed a drop in engagement, a few weeks ago I posted a picture of me in sunglasses and I literally lost 20-30 followers within a few hours. Like really people!? Are sunglasses so bad!?
    I do have to say though that I absolutely love the way your instagram feed looks, I love all the pops of colour you’ve introduced for summer!

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s definitely the way to go, I think – dedicating time to going on social media, otherwise you end up being on it all day and not living in the moment! It’s also good that you’re not glued to your phone when out with friends, too. I hate it when people have that nasty habit, it’s so rude!

      You’ve lost followers/engagement because you go off your theme for one post? Wait, what? I mean…what?! That’s actually crazy, not to mention dumb. I didn’t realize people actually cared about that. I haven’t noticed that pattern with my Instagram yet, but I also have much fewer followers than you, so I guess smaller sample size to notice a pattern.

      You’re so sweet, thank you Cleia! I’ve noticed that my bright feed gets less engagement than when I had my pink feed, but I don’t even care.

      Liked by 1 person

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