The Misery Found On Any Online Social Network
Being on a social network (or several) can sometimes be a wonderful experience. Social networks work beautifully to bring people together from across the world. They can introduce you to new cultures and new friends, as well as help you keep up long-distance friendships and relationships. My best friend and I live 3,000 miles apart, and we keep in touch mostly via WhatsApp, Instagram and Snapchat.
But unfortunately, social media use is not without its severe consequences.
A study by the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK surveyed 1,500 young people, ages 14 to 24, to determine the effects of social media use on mental health issues.
Their findings show that YouTube had the most positive impact on anxiety, depression, self-esteem, and body image.
On the other hand, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat all had negative effects on mental health.
Social media can take a significant toll on a user’s self-image and self-esteem, so it’s worth learning the behind-the-scenes of what you see in those feeds to better understand why you just don’t seem to stack up (spoiler alert: it’s all a lie).
Lives portrayed on pretty much any social network are not reality
Some people are paid to present a certain facade to the public. They’re called Influencers.
Influencers are people with large numbers of followers on their social media pages that brands hire to promote products or services to their audience.
Did you really think that person loved their razor so much that they just had to shout it from the rooftops?! Guess again.
Most of the times you see someone on a social media platform such as Instagram or Twitter promoting a certain shop, airline, or hotel, chances are high that they were paid to publish that post.
Sometimes, their entire lives must revolve around their reputation because it’s the foundation of their work, whether it’s being an Influencer on Instagram, Twitter, or an any other social network. This means:
- Curating their wardrobe and home decor to fit a certain color palette,
- Exploring the city to find picture-perfect murals or landscapes to use as a background,
- Dressing their babies in perfect outfits and staging outings or mommy-toddler cooking photos
- Getting paid to travel the world and take gorgeous photos everywhere they go
I don’t know about you, but I know that my life, as amazing as it is, can’t compare to sponsored wardrobes and worldwide traveling!
Between filters and photo-editing, most of those images are highly altered
Photo editing is not new.
Magazines, ads, and commercials all make use of Photoshop to alter images.
Social media isn’t any different.
Pretty much everyone uses built-in filters. Instagram has some gorgeous ones, as does Snapchat. But since part of the job of an Influencer is to be picture-perfect, they often take things one step further. From light filtering to heavy photo-editing and everything in between, those photos simply are not life.
Depending on the kind of Influencer they are, they may have a photographer, graphic designer and/or photo editor on retainer to make sure they’re always insta-worthy.
Who on Earth can compete with perfectly curated wardrobes and professional photography and editing?
With automation tools, it’s not even live!
Automation tools such as Buffer and Planoly allow you to schedule a photo or tweet to be published at a predetermined time. You don’t even have to be available to manually hit “publish”!
This means that those people you see having the time of their lives… they may be sleeping when they posted that tweet or insta pic. Not only that, but the photo they included of themselves at the club? They took that photo last summer-before they lost their beach body!
Pictures posted on a social network are not the whole picture
I bet you wouldn’t post a photo of yourself looking your worst. And you probably wouldn’t post about your most recent failed exam or last night’s fight with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Because you want your friends/followers to think you have a great life, right? Well guess what, they’re doing the exact same thing!
You see your entire life.
The good, the bad, and the ugly.
But you compare it to their “Best Of…” because that’s all the let you see.
Did your friend post a photo of a beautiful bouquet of roses her boyfriend got her? What she probably wouldn’t mention in the tweet is that they were apology flowers because he was a jerk last night. The only aspect of this whole scenario portrayed online is the beautiful flowers and you’re left thinking, “why doesn’t my boyfriend ever get me flowers?”
Can’t have a post about misery on social media without addressing the obvious: cyberbullying.
If you’ve been a Tinseltown fan for a while now, you may have read my recent blog post on bullying. But with today’s access to phones, online chatrooms, and social media, bullying nowadays goes far beyond what it was only a couple of decades ago.
Bullies have left the playground, school buses, and locker-lined hallways. They are now only an email, Facebook message, tweet, snap, or chatroom message away. They have invaded the privacy of our homes and invited themselves into the one place that used to be safe.
It’s no wonder that cyber bullying victims are more likely to have low self-esteem and to consider suicide–there is simply no escaping the aggressor.
And so, I urge you to talk to someone you trust if you are being bullied or harassed by someone making you feel unhappy or uncomfortable.
While social media can be great, there are concerns that come with being a member of any social network. The key is in remembering that the majority of images you see in your feed are simply not real life.
Certainly not their complete life.
So if you find yourself feeling unhappy, like you can’t compete, or like your life just doesn’t stack up, I encourage you to take a step back and try limiting your use of social media. Who knows, an “unplugged” weekend might be just what you need to feel happier and a deeper sense of personal achievement.
Author: Stephanie Ortega
Stephanie is a behavior analyst and tutor with over a decade of experience in helping children. She creates planners and worksheets for the organizer within us all, maintains a blog, and runs two start-ups. She’s also a doodler and puppy and cat mom who enjoys travel and learning new things.