We’d all be better off if we cared less about social media
Don’t compare your behind-the-scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel
Last week, my friend quit social media for a week. She struggled, she moaned but eventually she saw the light and realised how useless social media is in our daily lives.
Social media isn’t real. It’s a fake world we want people to see, our lives with an added filter to gain admirers and jealousy.
I know I’m a ridiculous hypocrite – social media dominates my life and I am fundamentally ashamed of it. I’m someone who is notoriously smug when I get over 11 likes on Instagram, and use Facebook to relentlessly PR whatever cause I’m currently behind.
But when did we become like this? When did our happiness depend on the double tap?
I spent my summer abroad and while there, I met someone who was speaking about how unhappy Facebook makes him. When questioned, he said: “I have over 900 friends on Facebook, but when it’s my birthday, only about 100 can be bothered to message me. Only 100 can recognise the fact it’s my birthday.”
Now, this might seem somewhat ridiculous as 100 people is still a lot to bother messaging, but he’s just representative of a generation which has been entirely engulfed by the social media giants.
“Social media depression” is a phenomenon where depression stems from the use of websites such as Facebook, Instagram and other forms of social media. It’s here and it’s real and it can affect anyone. A friend recently admitted to me she’s had to unfollow her boyfriend because of the effect of social media: “I couldn’t stand seeing him liking pictures of other girls, or being able to see everything he was doing on Facebook. It was driving me mad with paranoia.
“It got me thinking: he hasn’t liked my picture, so he must prefer this other girl – it was crazy. Obviously it would be insane to ask him to stop as he isn’t doing anything wrong, so eventually I just unfollowed him and I feel much happier.”
Last summer was arguably the best summer of my life. I broke my phone and had very little social media or home contact. I had a camera. I had the incredible scenes of Texas, the West Coast and some East Coast. I could experience the Grand Canyon and Yosemite in all its glory, and I couldn’t update my social media. I couldn’t see what my friends from home were doing, what my crush was doing, anything. And I was so happy.
Fast forward four months and I’m sat here, with Facebook open, staring enviously at people on holiday having the time of their lives, and I’m considerably less happy than I was in the US. It’s cold and it’s miserable and I want their lives. But this is stupid.
Because experiencing these adventures for yourself, as opposed to watching them on a phone screen, is reality. Behind every perfected profile picture, or album full of holiday photos on the beach, are real people experiencing the same insecurities. That’s something you’d never see on Instagram. True life can’t be mimicked by a website, and it’s far better than any virtual reality.