I’ve been wanting to write a blog post about ‘likes’ on social media for some time now but I avoided it because I couldn’t find a way to organise my thoughts into something cohesive. Then the other day I found this quote (I actually found it on Instagram – oh the irony!) and it was amazing to see all of my ideas compacted into such a simple and powerful sentence. It resonated with me so much that I felt inspired to finally post this. So here it is, my love/hate relationship with social media explained for any of you that might be interested…
Anyone that knows me (even vaguely) will know that I love Instagram. It’s the only social media app that I have on my phone, which probably explains why it’s the first thing I check when I wake up in the morning and the last thing I check before I go to sleep. I do use Facebook for Messenger and I occasionally log in on Safari to share links/pictures on my wall but it’s not a platform that I spend very much time scrolling through nowadays. Let’s just say, I haven’t updated my Facebook profile picture for over a year but I posted on Instagram this morning… I think we can see where my social media priorities lie!
I used to be a lot more active on social media but I deleted my Snapchat and Twitter back in 2014. I didn’t actually do it as a way to ‘make a stand’ (I just wanted to free up some memory on my phone and never really got around to re-downloading them) but recently, I’ve had conversations with friends who have consciously deleted their social media and say that they feel much better for it. I found myself agreeing with them and these conversations caused me to ask myself why I continue to post picture after picture online when it’s clear that there’s no justification for all of the ‘likes, ‘follows’ and ‘views’… I try to convince others that I use social media for the ‘right reasons’ but what does that really mean? Is it even possible to avoid the negativity and still use social media? I guess I wanted to write something that would address both sides of the argument. It’s just an opinion post, so I expect some of you to agree, some of you to disagree and some of you to think ‘Why is she even bothering to write this?’. Whichever category you fall into, here goes my ramble…
I suppose that my Instagram is almost like an online photo album – all the best parts of my life, filtered and organised chronologically for me to scroll through whenever, wherever. I think it’s about understanding that what you see isn’t always 100% real life and, to be honest, that’s how photos have always been. Back when my parents would take film pictures of me as a baby, they would get 50 photos printed but only 10 or so would make the photo albums and just 1 would be framed for the wall – it’s exactly the same now, just with Facebook albums and Instagram pictures. I always go on and on and on (and on and on) about how social media just shows the highlights and I’m about to do it again… Although the picture of me frolicking on a beach in some far away country may look elegant and exotic, it probably took 20 shots and a damn good filter to deem it Instagram-worthy and although that sunset picture over the mountains may fill you with travel-envy, it probably rained 10 seconds later causing me to run frantically to shelter and pray my camera hadn’t been affected by water damage.
These are all partial reasons as to why I started this blog. I mean, honestly, the real reason was because I couldn’t be bothered to start my exam revision so I took procrastination to new levels by teaching myself a few HTML codes and buying a domain name (what do you mean, it would have been less effort to just open a politics book?!) but it was also because I wanted a platform to showcase the real stories behind my Instagram filters.
I’ve also disabled likes and website views on here so it takes the ‘search for validation’ away ever so slightly. I’m able to share my stories and photos with my friends and family who want to know what’s going on in my world. Also, it does look great on a CV. Keepin’ it real, yo.
I’m getting distracted now… aren’t I? I’m too busy being defensive and trying to justify why I share my life online that I’m forgetting to address the other side of the argument…
Social media can suck. I’ll admit that, at least. What’s up with the validation thing, eh? You can BUY Instagram followers now…. Did you know that?! There are even apps that will generate more likes for your photos… I don’t understand why we have placed so much importance on the numbers but I can also admit that, although I would never go to extreme measures for likes/followers, I have fallen victim to counting them.
Let’s go back in time to when Instagram would change from names to numbers once you hit 11 likes… Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. We all know what I’m talking about. My friends and I would get excited when we hit 11 likes and if we didn’t quite make it then we’d ask each other: ‘Can you like my pic please? Thanks!’. I remember the day I got 50 likes on one of my photos – I was so proud of myself. How lame is that? Pretty sure I thought that was a bigger achievement than my university degree… Hahahaha, ok I’m joking (Wait, am I?) but I honestly can’t answer the question as to WHY I cared so much? I still notice how many likes I get, by the way. I’m not writing this blog post all high and mighty above the clouds like ‘HA HA look at me reaching spiritual enlightenment – so self assured, in need of no validation’. Nah, not quite. I’ve got a lot better, though. I probably wouldn’t pass out if I got 0 likes on a picture but I would definitely think my Mom was dead seeing as she likes everything I post instantaneously.
Fine, all jokes aside, I am admitting that paying attention to likes can be unhealthy but I also think it’s impossible to ignore them and that they don’t have to be a bad thing… more on that later. Essentially, if you’re posting your pictures for likes then you’re 100% doing it wrong because you’re never gonna be satisfied. I posted a picture of a bee the other day and I think only a few of my friends actually acknowledged it. I’m aware that I don’t usually post photos of bees (who does?) ((update: there are Instagram accounts dedicated solely to bees)) and I didn’t really post it for any reason other than I thought it was a cool macro shot on my new camera but that’s what’s great – 2 years ago I would have refused to post that picture because it didn’t ‘fit in with my feed aesthetic’… 🤔
What does that even mean? More importantly, why did people let me actually say those words? Why didn’t people say: Hey, that’s a nice picture of a bee, do what you want with it, go forth and share your bee with the world… Bloody hell.
Once again, I’ve gone slightly off track but I’m coming to the conclusion that social media consumes more of our lives than it should do. The infamous scroll-swipe of the thumb has become second nature to most of us. Wherever we are: at university, with friends, at the dinner table with our family, on holiday, in the bathroom, in bed… we’re scrolling. Ugh, just thinking about it makes me cringe a little bit. I once spent a WHOLE TWO HOURS scrolling through Instagram… I remember the time vividly, actually. I had a ton of coursework to do and the deadlines were creeping around so fast. I wasn’t eating healthily or exercising, I felt really alienated from my friends for some reason and I just wasn’t in a good place mentally. Long story short, social media was my distraction – I felt so down, I just wanted to scroll through pretty pictures on my phone instead of dealing with the situation. Problem was that I didn’t have the right mindset to see pictures of my friends out having fun, exotic travel snaps or positive, inspirational quotes filling my feed. It actually just made me feel worse.
So, why do I still use Instagram and Facebook? Why don’t I abandon the social media ship too?
I guess it’s because, for me, the positives outweigh the negatives. Social media is an amazing thing when it comes to staying connected but I know to steer clear of it when I’m feeling stressed, down or overwhelmed. In fact, I’d go as far as to argue that a quick 5 minute scroll through Instagram nowadays inspires me more than it deflates me but that’s all down to who I follow. I see cool places I want to add to my travel bucket list, I see vegan recipes I want to try, I see artists and photographers who share work that motivates me to create my own, I see words from poets and writers that find me just when I need them, I see my favourite musicians releasing new music but most importantly, I see my friends and family living their best lives. I’m ‘double tapping’ left right and centre, showing my love for what people do and appreciating the ‘highlights’. I get more out of that than I do scrolling through the news, reading headlines about terror threats or the crumbling economy or the inevitable doom that is a Trump/Brexit 2017… At the same time, social media is a good platform to create awareness about these news topics – to discuss, to share opinion, to fundraise, to inform and also to provide a relief from the serious side of it all -queue memes-
God, I love memes.
Whether you have every single social media platform, whether you get 5 likes or 5 million likes, whether you share 10 pictures a day or 10 pictures a year or whether you choose to avoid it all completely… who really cares? Funny that I’ve written 2000 words for my conclusion to be ‘who cares’ – probably should have opened with that to spare you the last 10 minutes of your life but I think I’ve only just realised how little this really matters in the grand scheme of things. We are free to choose how we live – we should probably spend less time scrolling and more time rolling… with the homies (disgusting attempt at a rhyme) and we should definitely avoid playing the ‘numbers game’ but I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer as to whether or not we should use social media. We just need to use it positively if we do choose to use it. I just think it all depends on how YOU look at it and, ultimately, the way in which you look at things is determined by how you feel about yourself. So, yeah, this is where the quote comes in. Self love, baby.
Social media is always going to come with a like and a follow button but it doesn’t have to be such a bad thing. To be honest, I think likes/comments/follows are just a modern way of reaching out and keeping in touch with people – yeah, it’d be much better to send a message but we don’t always have the time to catch up with everyone. I want my friends to post pictures of their lives and I want to be able to acknowledge them with a like… It doesn’t sound so awful when you put it like that. There’s a theory that you should document the moments when you feel the most alive – the places you like the most, the people you have the best times with, the outfits you feel the most confident in, the food that makes you the happiest, the talents you have (selfies are officially a talent in my eyes because I have only taken 3 good ones in 22 years of existence)… The list goes on! Of course, you don’t have to document these things publically but if you do choose to share you’re life on social media then just try not to take it so seriously. Share whatever you’re proud of – if other people appreciate it too then that’s great and if not, it actually doesn’t matter when you’ve got that self-love thing going on (shout out to the bee). Self-love is important whether you use social media or don’t – so, either way, make sure to spread nothing but the good vibes✌️Be so content in your own skin that all you can do is feel supportive of other peoples’ life highlights and proud of your own…
I’m gonna end this post with another quote because I love quotes (can’t you tell?!?!):