A few weeks ago, a friend of mine closed down her social media accounts. This surprised me, as she had a large following and posted gorgeous images of herself on the beach drinking from coconut shells and frolicking in her bikini while flashing her perfectly white teeth. When I asked her why she chose to remove herself from social media, she said, “it is no longer fun.” Instead, it started to dictate her mood depending on how many “likes” she would get on a particular post. When she would partake in an activity, she would constantly think about taking the perfect picture to post on Instagram. She would wonder if her stomach was sucked in, if her hair was out of place, if there was a better angle to take the picture, and so on.
She stated, “the line between fiction and reality was getting blurred.”
This made me think about the image I portray on my own social media pages. My posts consist mostly of adventures, travel, writing, healthy living, love, peace, and good vibes. People have commented on my pictures that they wish they had my life. I have been told that our acquaintances believe that my husband and I are wealthy due to all the traveling pictures I have posted on Instagram.
Yes, I do travel, but by no means I am wealthy. I aspire for love and peace, but I have many challenging days. I occasionally devour a dozen buffalo wings and wash it down with a cold soda. Somedays I feel sad for no apparent reason. I have a bad temper especially when someone cuts me off on the road (I have been known to throw “F” bombs and flip the middle finger.) Contrary to my Instagram posts, I do not go on daily adventures. I spend weekends laying on the couch wearing my polka dot robe, binge watching Game of Thrones.
Though I am as guilty as those social media accounts that portray the “perfect” life, I do not believe I am trying to portray a false image. What I am doing is posting snapshots of my life. A majority of us portray positive aspects on social media and I do not believe there is anything wrong with that. I’m sure my friends and followers would rather see me post a picture of a sunset rather than clothes piled up on the bed because I have yet to fold them. The point is, perhaps social media is not the issue, if used for the right reasons. It can be a great way to market your business, connect with like-minded people (I have met some amazing people on Instagram), and get inspired.
Perhaps the problem is not the existence of social media itself, but the intentions behind it.. Are we posting images to get a large number of likes or followers because we believe it validates our self-worth? Is our perception of attractiveness dependent on how many “likes” we get on our selfie? When we scroll through the feed, do we compare ourselves to others? If so, this mentality can lead to feelings of inadequacy. We need to remember that social media is not real life, it is an edited version filled with filters and perfect angles. We have no idea if the person that posted a beautiful acai bowl filled with tropical fruit just downed a bag of Doritos before posting the picture. Maybe the post can motivate us to eat healthier or try a new recipe, but what it should not do is make us feel terrible for not being a “perfect” clean-eating vegan.
Social media does not define who we are. What defines us are the things we love, the books we read, and the people we interact with in real life. Most importantly, our value comes from personal commitment to our emotional, physical, and psychological well-being.
Self-worth comes from inside of us, not from what we portray on the screen of our smartphones.
With all this in mind, here are some techniques that allow me to keep social media in perspective:
1. Spend a few hours a day unplugged.
I mean completely unplugged. Do something fun and embrace hobbies, such as reading a book, going to the gym, or trying out a new recipe. Resist the urge to take photos of those moments, and see how it feels to internally engage in the present. When we are always busy trying to catch the perfect angle or the best lighting, we are missing out on experiencing everything beautiful around us and truly connecting to our surrounding.
2. Spend more time outdoors.
Go to the café, the grocery store, or the park. Engage with people one-on-one and call a friend to have a real conversation. We don’t need social media to make connections, there are people all around us. Let’s surround ourselves with real life!
3. Recognize the moments when you are comparing yourself to others.
Remind yourself that what you see is not real life, but only what others want you to see. Confront your negative thoughts and ask yourself how valid they really are. You never, ever know what is happening behind the scenes of those “perfect images”, no matter how happy someone’s life may seem to look.
Remember, we don’t need to validate ourselves on social media to live a good life. We don’t need to have a million “likes” on a selfie to verify our attractiveness. We don’t need to eat acai bowls or be able to do handstands while wearing Lululemon yoga pants. Happiness does not come with what is on the screen, it comes from the life we create for ourselves in the real world.
Written By: Lang Johnson
Healthy Living & Travel Writer
After years of living an unhealthy lifestyle and having numerous health issues, Lang came to the conclusion that she needed to turn her life around. In 2010 she began her journey to mindful living with the set goal of achieving personal, physical, and spiritual growth. She experimented with meditation, holistic medicine, and energy healers. She studied healthy and sustainable food practices while exploring various fitness techniques. Driven by her love of yoga, Lang took a 200-hour Vinyasa teacher training course, in order to delve deeper into the practice. She left her job of nine years in the Information Technology field and decided to fully focus on her passion. As a personal growth advocate, Lang started a healthy living and travel blog to share her experiences and knowledge in an interactive fashion. She is dedicated to helping others find balance so that they can live a healthy life filled with self-love and inner peace.