Social media has become an intricate part of our daily lives. For many, myself included, it’s become the thing you check in the morning when you wake up, and the thing you check right before you go to sleep. And I completely admit to the time wasting power of social media, yet there I am checking away. But is being so connected to everyone all the time a good thing?
A recent study in Britain suggests not for young girls. The report found that among 10 to 15-year-old girls, 14% were unhappy with their lives and 34% unhappy with their looks. Both these numbers are a marked increase in unhappiness from five years before. In 2011, of girls and boys in this age range, 11% reported being unhappy. Now that percentage has risen but only for the girls, not for the guys. In addition, the number of girls who are unhappy with their looks rose from 30% to 34%, while the guys stayed the same at 20%.
Some experts believe it’s the growing presence of social media in these girls’ lives. Author and pastor Steven Furtick has said that the problem with social media is “we compare our behind the scenes with everyone’s highlight reel”.
A highlight reel that shows everyone in the best light – literally – possible. And that young girls, acutely aware of their looks anyway, are most susceptible to falling into patterns of feeling bad after spending time staring at their Facebook or Instagram feeds.
Indeed, social media provides the ultimate “keep up with the Joneses” experience. But for everyone. It can create a sort of one-upmanship where people are constantly trying to create the ultimate viewer experience of their own lives. Think about how crazy that sounds. But that’s what’s happening.
Especially on platforms like Instagram.
I rarely search for anything on Instagram; instead, I curate my own feed and don’t spend much time looking at other stuff – yes, I know how self-centred that sounds but, honestly, I can only enjoy the voyeuristic aspect of social media so much.
But when I went searching, I found out what I’m sure everyone has already figured out: That every girl who pouts her lips and wears a tight top has 15,000 followers! Seriously. Go check that.
At first I assumed these girls must be models, or actresses, or TV presenters but soon figured out that they were just regular girls who liked to take photos of themselves puffing out their lips. And if you scroll down on these photos, it’s a colour-saturated grid of lips, sunglasses and breasts. After a while, looking at all these accounts, I started to feel bad. I mean, I’m on television. I write columns that presumably thousands of people at least look at, and these girls who pout their lips have more followers? Sucks to be me.
I mean, if this display on Instagram could make a 39-year-old man feel slightly bad, what chance do young girls have?
And then I started thinking about it. We need more truth in social media. We need to post the crappy times just like we post the good times, at least if we want social media to be more than just a branded version of ourselves. If social media represents our real lives than we should post our real lives, no matter what.
Inspired by this thought, I immediately posted a picture of me sitting in the back of a taxi while stuck in traffic. I thought to myself, yes, this is real. This is truth on Instagram. I actually thought of hash tagging that.
But when I was taking the photo, the photo I wanted to represent my truth, the photo I wanted to post so little girls would see that life isn’t all C-cup breasts, palm trees and glossy lipstick, I noticed my bicep in the back was looking a little flabby. So I flexed it. Not a ton. Just enough to give it some shape. I’m serious, check out my Instagram at bigsmilenoteeth (Or look at it below – Ed). It’s there, not super big, but not blarfy and amorphous – as it is in its natural state.
And before I knew it, I had posted the photo.
In my own attempt to be honest in social media, I couldn’t do it. I still had to attempt to appear better than I really am.
Is it because I’m keeping up with the Joneses?
Is it some weird survival instinct to separate ourselves as individuals – which really just makes us all part of the crowd?
I don’t have the answer, but people need to know that the Internet is full of people presenting themselves how they would like to be viewed, not as they really are – that includes me.
Catch Jason Godfrey on The LINK on Life Inspired (Astro B.yond Ch 728).