I’ve wanted to write this post for awhile now because I feel like it’s very important to talk about: The Social Media Trap. If you haven’t fallen victim to social media and its pressure, then good for you because I guarantee that there is a minuscule pool of you out there who have not given in to the pressures of social media.
I want to talk about my personal relationship with social media. I have all the accounts imaginable—I have loads of emails, I run two Instagram accounts, two Twitter accounts, this website, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. It’s overwhelming at times because I felt that in order to be ‘successful’ I needed to keep an active profile for all of the sites. I needed to demonstrate that I could take a pretty photo. I needed to demonstrate that I was going places. I was still practicing music. I was exercising. I was studying. I was trying to be the best version of myself. I was trying to validate myself through the eyes of other people because just me knowing that I was trying was not enough.
There were times when I would record something and I was really proud of it, and it would get maybe 15 views. 32 likes on Instagram. Maybe 3 Facebook likes. I felt completely useless. I stopped believing in myself because I felt that I deserved more support, but I felt that it was something that I was doing wrong. Maybe people had a personal vendetta against me? I wasn’t sure, but I felt so lost at times. These were the times I was going on social media multiple times a day just to see what I was supposed to be like. Was I supposed to do my makeup a certain way? My hair? Were my clothes a problem? Was my body not good enough? Was my singing not great? In total, I was spending up to five hours on my phone because I wanted to know why I wasn’t good enough. How could someone’s photo of a chair be liked more than me trying my best at what I want to do in life?
I’m not going to lie to you. June was probably the worst month that I have experienced mentally, and I think part of it was because I was on social media so much. Instead of silently working on my craft, I was trying to skip steps and just get people to ‘like' me. You know what? I still post small clips of myself singing, but I’m so proud of those now. I don’t need even 15 likes to tell myself that I’m talented. I know that I am. I do not need the approval of ‘the tribe’ because like Steven Pressfield says, “There is no tribe”. The ‘tribe’ is just made up of a group of individuals who are also trying to do their best. The ‘tribe’ does not care what I am doing, and I should not let them dictate whether I should keep pushing or just give up.
There was a week in the end of July that I was off my phone. I did not respond to messages. I did not check any of my accounts, and I felt so powerful. I was running again. I was writing music. I was acknowledging how I felt, and actively trying to better myself privately. I had a lot of time to reflect on myself, and I didn’t care about what other people were doing. It was an amazing week, and I find that I am still not checking my accounts as much. I am so much happier because that is what I needed.
There’s this one story I like to tell my friends when I talk about the pitfalls of social media. It’s the idea of feeling left out of the ‘tribe’, and comparing your lifestyle to how your peers and others are living their lives. There are times when I see pictures of a group of people, and I ask myself why can’t I have that? I mean I have great people in my life. There are few people that are really close to me, and I would not trade them for the world. We take pictures, but whenever I feel like people have these spectacular lives I think of this one moment I experienced when a social media picture was just one big lie. I went out with a group of people a few months back, and these girls were taking photos for what seemed like an eternity. (They’re great people, don’t get me wrong) . However, this girl's friends were there to see her, and seeing her photos you would have thought she was having the best night. She spent the 8 minute car ride editing her photos, asking for people’s opinions. Her photo was great. If I wasn’t there, I would have been a little hurt I was missing out. However, as soon as we got out of the car, we waited in a line to get into a bar that wouldn’t let us in because it was filled to capacity. We spent a good chunk of our time waiting, and she was upset with how her night was going. I mean, it turned around in the end. Honestly though, if you think people have these spectacular lives based on the photos they present to us, please remember their life is just like ours. There are highs and lows. No one’s life is a constant high. Stop comparing yourself to one person’s pretty pictures because it probably took a lot of time to get the ‘perfect’ picture. It probably was being posted while they were really hurting inside. Who knows?
I’m not bashing social media. I’m not saying do not post anything. I’m not saying not to take a pretty picture. I’m saying stop comparing yourself to how other people choose to present themselves. Social media can be really great at times to advertise yourself. Show your progress. It’s great to create a version of yourself that seems happy all of the time. But. Hey. We are not happy all of the time. That is fine. That is a part of being human.
That’s why people created Finstas. To show people the crappy side of their life. It’s also used to be super unkind to people which is also really toxic. I unfollowed a lot of Finstas because I felt physically sick looking at people’s words about other people—but hey. That post is for another day.
Anyway, if you love social media. Then go for it! Post your journeys through life! I’m happy for you.I’m slowly coming back to it, and I’m slowly getting ready to share certain aspects of my life again. However, if you feel really down about yourself because of how social media makes you feel, then take a step back. It’s okay to take a hiatus. People don't need to know everything. In fact, I don't think people care to know everything. I feel marginally better because I’m not validated by people who do not care about me. I am validated because I know that I work hard, and I’m going to keep trying. Give me one like or give me one hundred. It doesn’t matter. My dreams were created way before I could get a like in the first place.
Peace and Love, always.