When you’re in school, you’re told that drugs are bad! We all remember those assemblies – where a police-wo-man stands on the stage and flicks through a few scary images showing the after effects of Tik (I went to Milnerton… cocaine was a bit posh for us).
I guess they were hoping to scare us – it worked pretty well in my case. But I’m starting to wonder whether drugs and sex ed were the only things they should’ve been talking to us about in their well-intentioned attempt to prepare us for adult life.
How about how to write a CV? Or the realm of different jobs that are out there in addition to the ones you hear when you’re in pre-school (policeman, fireman, lawyer, celebrity… digital strategist?!). Then we have topics like social media, and the proliferation of image crafting – or what I like to call “the show”.
My little cousin is 14 years old right now and it’s been interesting to watch her interactions on platforms like Instagram. It’s the same age old behaviour that we all put out there when we were teenagers – a good old dash of rebellion, experimentation and vodka – but the stakes have changed. When I was a teenager, I had a Nokia 3310 and rarely took photos because digital cameras were new and expensive baaack in the day (I’m 26 – not 100 in case you were wondering). You’d never see the end result before you paid for them to be developed if you were using the cheap disposable cameras. We weren’t obsessed with our own self-portraits because “selfies” didn’t exist.
Today “selfies” is a commonly searched term of the Internet, and an activity that every single person reading this blog has participated in (am I right, or am I right?). In 2015 more people died by taking selfies than by shark attacks #fact. But this blog is not about selfie taking or what it says about millennial psychology – it’s about how we portray our lives on social media and why I’m tired of watching and participating in “the show”.
I won’t accuse everyone of being equal participants on social media, because some are more prone to live their day-to-day without documenting every second of it… with post production edits of course. After all, it’s our lives minus the kinks that derail us along the way – jazzed up with a filter (will you choose Clarendon or Reyes… or if you’re a real artiste, go into edit mode so you can tweak it ‘just so’).
I’m not criticising people who enjoy taking and posting photos of their lives – I do it myself frequently. In many ways it’s a form of creativity, and a means of connecting us to a world we would never see otherwise.
What I am saying is that it can potentially open the door to negative emotions. Feelings of envy, feelings of not being good enough, feelings of obscurity and comparison which can lead to feeling dissatisfied with your REAL life and self.
Sure I’ll post a video of me watching Jazz, watching the sunset while the Atlantic ocean twinkles infinitely and the twelve apostles stand gloriously in the background. But on the inside I’m crushed. I’m in pain. If there were a grave to dig up, I’d be grabbing the spade. Of course, if I posted a picture of the tears, it would be attention seeking and inappropriate – a cry for help in the wrong place. So I’ll post a picture of my hotel room or a smiling selfie. Anything to prove that I’m “living my best life”.
The point I’m trying to make here is that my Instagram feed, and a lot of Instagram feeds, are not a reliable representation of real life. So comparing your real life, to someone’s Instagram life is not a good idea.
Instagram be damned. It’s all bullshit. I love the pretty pictures, but I’m no longer going to tell myself that it’s anything more than a big beautiful show – put on for everyone watching from the other side of the screen. I thought I needed to tell my cousin not to place so much importance in the pictures she’s posting, who follows her and how many likes her photos get (she receives a lot more social validation in that department than I do anyway! Haha). But actually I needed to remind myself that these things occupy far too much of my own headspace than they warrant.
If you’re ready to roll up your sleeves, this is a topic that could spark some lively debate – happy Wednesday! Where the wine at?