The Product of Social Media: Life Through a Screen

Sunday 12 June

How long do you spend on social media each day? Check your screen time. Unfortunately, this may be quite high for a number of us. We feel the need to check social media twice, three times, four times, a hundred times a day. Why?

In our society, we seek validation. Online we post photos and memories that we think other people will like – for the goal of more “likes” or “followers”. We also compare our lives to others in a self-validating way, thinking that our lives are “better” than someone else’s: “Oh, they haven’t gone on holiday this summer and I have”. Maybe they did go on holiday, maybe even five different holidays, but they don’t feel the need to post it everywhere for others to see. Or maybe they didn’t, so what?

This isn’t being genuine to ourselves. If we continue to post things to live up to other people’s standards, and keeping up with the latest trends, we are only acting on the part of us that seeks validation and acceptance (or even envy) from our “followers”, who may not even be people we know all too well.

Everyone is unique, with different lives, opinions and belief systems. This is what should be so interesting about our society, instead of being something that we shun away and rather pretend to be like everyone else. But how do you find out who we really are when everyone online is pretending to be somebody else, claiming to “copy” the trends? Who started those trends, where did they originate from? Nobody is unique if we live up to these so-called “expectations”. These are only a product of our society and we all can, and should, ditch them. Society is a social construct and thus so is its expectations. Why do we, therefore, continue to feel the need to live up to them?

What would you do if social media ceased to exist? What would you do this weekend? Who would you call and hang out with? Would you still live an “instagram-worthy” life or would you begin to create the life you’ve always wanted?
What’s stopping you from doing this now? Why dream about how great life may be without social media, without all these expectations and standards to “live up to”, when you can start living that life now? An easy way to begin to think in this mindset and construct this belief system would be to think before you post online, for instance. Will you look back on that selfie, that filtered picture of a fancy latte, in ten years time and remember that day? Photos are supposed to capture memories, feelings, positive emotions, not create standards for others to stretch to. Start to take pictures of times when you are happy or feel something special. Then you will look back on those pictures, of what ever is in front of you, and remember what it was you were so excited or happy about.

To end this blog post, I want to add something from a book I’ve been reading by Brianna Wiest, “101 Essays that will change the way you think”. This book covers all things that I have been talking about on my blog over the last two years, thus it’s interesting to me as I can dive into those thoughts and feelings I’ve had in my mind already about the issues Wiest confronts in her book and elaborate on them. In Essay 33 “How to stop worrying about how your life looks and start focusing on how it feels”, she asserts that these “people” whom we think are judging us and creating these “expectations” are in fact people created in our own mind, thus reflecting our own beliefs and desires of what our life should look like, or how we want it to look like. This struck me, since it’s true! Society is an abstract concept: it’s not real, you can’t hold it in your hand. Thus, all these standards we believe “society has created” cannot be. They don’t exist either. We have simply all constructed these false, invalid standards in our own minds, believing that that is what the world wants us to be like.

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