In theory, I understand that social media is largely a glimmering highlight reel. I understand we selectively share the parts of our lives that we want the world to see and for most of us, this means the best most beautiful moments. I understand that it isn’t helpful to make comparisons between my life and what I see on social media, yet sometimes, I still find myself doing it.
Recently, I had a Saturday night in. No plans, nowhere to be. I made dinner, got cosy, lit candles, watched a movie and was writing – bliss. Or at least it would have been, had I not kept looking at my phone. It was just a casual flick through Instagram, nothing harmless, but then instead of enjoying my own night, I became very aware of the night everyone else was having. Scrolling through a stream of smiling faces and party boomerangs, a night that had felt blissful started to seem boring.
The number of youth battling with anxiety, depression and self-harm makes my heart hurt, and I can’t help but wonder if social media plays a big part. If a person’s Instagram profile is mostly just a highlight reel, and let's say I follow a hundred people, that is a hundred people worth of highlight reels that I am exposed to on a daily basis. You can probably see where I’m going with this. It is so easy to fall into the trap of believing that for everyone else, life is a constant stream of exciting, happy, photo-worthy moments, but the key word here is trap. It’s a false belief that sets us up for feelings of shame, disappointment, inadequacy and loneliness when our own reality doesn’t match up. Life is far messier than the picture that social media paints, but that’s what makes it magic.
The amount of people promoting social media breaks is awesome, but we also need the tools to navigate it when we are logged in. As a small starting point, just try to become more aware of how you feel when using social media. If it isn’t feeling so hot, that’s totally okay. Never feel embarrassed or ashamed about social media having an effect on your headspace, and know that other people feel the same way. Try to do some internal investigation and see where the feeling is coming from. For me, I know that seeing other people doing exciting things can make me think my own life is lacking something. I have no problem being alone, but if I am alone and start scrolling, seeing everyone’s social lives on display can bring up self doubt. Both are destructive thought patterns that can put me in a real funk, but simply becoming aware of the story that’s running in my head makes a world of difference, and allows me to see it as just a story.
Takes breaks if you need to and reach out if you need to, all of us are in this digital boat together. And most importantly, remember that you are enough, even if your newsfeed makes you question it.