Social media has grown so far away from the early days of “Jess is happy—insert smiley face.”
It’s no news that our world has become heavily influenced by the act of sharing our lives over the internet. That is what I am doing right now—I’m about to tell you about my life, and the influence of social media, on a website that will be shared on social media, via the internet.
Although the internet has opened up an entirely new world of communication and information, I am constantly hearing about social media either ruining lives—or being fake. Is this what is happening?
I hate social media. But I also love it.
To delve into more detail—I actually hate our reliance upon it, and the way it sucks people in and replaces their reality with fantasy, rather than hating its actual existence.
I fear for the future of the young developing minds who are basing their personal success on the number of “likes” on their Instagram selfies—and buying anything that is endorsed by Kylie Jenner.
I see the way that social media gives millions of people false hope every day. They judge their success on a comparison to a public figure that we think we know just by the photo they have uploaded to Instagram that day, when in reality, that person could have taken those photos months ago and might not have left their house for two weeks.
Thousands of people are believing that they are not succeeding in their life, or that they are trailing behind everyone else, or should be happier, because they are comparing their worst days to everyone else’s best days.
These “best days” are the days that are posted on Instagram feeds, whilst generally, heartbreaks and stresses, and upsetting events and sad days, are not. These are the things that commonly occur in every person’s life, despite what they portray on social media.
I believe that it is important to look past what is portrayed, and think realistically in situations when you are feeling down about your life. While you are working on your career, finding the realistic balance between work and play, and saving money for your future, that travelling person whose Instagram account you just can’t stop checking, may be broke. They may be working in a grotty bar just to earn the money for their flight home, or lazing on the beach because they have no motivation to do anything else and therefore will be stuck when they get home and have to begin where you started three years ago.
We can all admire other people’s social media posts, but we must always keep it in the back of our mind that not only is that not the true reality of that person’s life, but you are also only seeing a small fraction of what that person is going through.
Since learning this and coming to terms with it myself, I have begun to use social media as a positive influence, which has only propelled me further into my own success.
Once we are aware of the “fakeness,” and are able to distinguish the social media myth from reality, we are able to remove the negative thoughts and feelings, and include the positives in our day-to-day lives.
I now use social media as a crucial tool for inspiration, technique, aspiration, and a source of new information.
It is when we are fully aware and can get to grips with our own personal purpose in life, and how social media can aid it that we can use it to our advantage without getting down about the magical world of other people’s lives.
In my field of work, which is wildlife conservation, I am able to appreciate the posts of those wildlife photographers who inspire me, teachers and activists who are changing the world, and filmmakers who are introducing new topics to the public.
I am also able to experiment with where I fit in to the world of social media, and create my own unique take on it, from the inspiration and aspiration from those around me in the virtual world.
It is when we are conscious, aware, and alert that we can understand and utilise the power of social media and use it to grow stronger, instead of deeper into our insecurities.
Author: Jessica Murray
Editor: Lieselle Davidson