The growth of social media sites from when they were invented to what they are today is pretty overwhelming. But how do they add value to our lives? I can definitely see the positives – I can stay connected with people that I would have lost contact with a very long time ago. I can wish them well or reach out to them more easily …. but there’s another side to social media, one in which we don’t fully understand the effects of yet. The side that isolates, upsets, depresses, makes you second guess yourself – the side that makes you feel like shit.
I’m not going to get into the murky world of online bullying or sexting abuse because thankfully I’ve never experienced it and I wouldn’t write about something I haven’t personally experienced, (although I understand it’s a very real & serious problem that I might have only dodged due to my age), but here are a few things I have experienced on social media that I’ve had to give myself a wake up call on:
I’ve seen social posts that advise us to unfollow negative people on social media. While I obviously agree that you should unfollow someone who is negative or abusive directly towards you or others – I don’t agree with the idea that we should block less positive people from our feeds or not share the less positive aspects of our lives on social media for fear that we will be less liked by others – this culture of hiding all the undesirable aspects of our lives and only promoting the pretty side is contributing to unrealistic expectations and isolation of others.
Remember, someone’s social profile is only their cover – nobody’s life is all rosey in the garden all of the time and if someone’s profile looks like it is, they are only choosing to share a portion of their story, which is fair enough, most of us do it – but don’t be fooled that you’re looking at the full picture.
It’s pretty funny to watch how social media is making us all so self-obsessed and how the most interesting thing we can think of sharing with the world is a picture of our face. I remember when I heard the word ‘selfie’ for the first time so it’s a relatively new term, and now probably one of the most popular words across social media sites.
Does it ever happen to you that you’re looking through Instagram and you think WTF!? – how is everyone so gorgeous all the bloody time and you’re sitting there looking a mess in your trackies on the couch staring into your phone with about three double chins reaching for a brown paper bag! You feel so unattractive and miserable – Please stop & remember:
you haven’t suddenly become the most unattractive person in the world – the selfie they posted is about the 10th million one they took and then they applied five filters. We all have Photoshop in our pockets these days, so try to take what you see with a pinch of salt.
This one might relate slightly more to women but men are feeling the pressure too – the growing problem and danger of unregulated steroid abuse is evidence of this.
My mind bobbles at how the beauty industry has absolutely exploded in recent years. According to analysts at Goldman Sachs, the global beauty industry, (consisting of skin care worth $24 billion; makeup worth $18 billion; $38 billion of hair-care products; and $15 billion of perfumes) is growing at up to 7% a year, more than twice the rate of the developed world’s GDP. According to The Economist, Americans spend more on beauty than they do on education. And everyone is cashing in with your local Primark, H&M & so many more high street brands all setting up their own makeup range in recent years.
Social media has really spurred the growth of beauty product sales. When it was celebrities endorsing the products, at least you could tell yourself ‘of course a superstar is going to look flawless on a TV advert, that’s not a realistic representation’, but now ‘normal’ people are the endorsers, all with their own YouTube channel / Instagram page – we are now more convinced than ever that you can achieve a certain look because the sellers are people ‘just like us’ sitting in their bedroom without any fancy production team. For me the message has shifted from ‘she’s a star celebrity from another world in a high budget advert’ to ‘oh crap she’s just like me in her bedroom in front of a laptop, if she says I need it then maybe I do??’ Next thing you know I’m in a trance watching a pretty lady tell me I have to use 20 different products to achieve the perfect ‘going to work look’ – it would be about 30 if I wanted to achieve ‘from day to night’! It’s easy to get overwhelmed and I would need a PHD to figure out the correct way to use half the stuff that’s ‘a must have in every girl’s makeup bag’.
First there were beauty magazines, then TV ads and this is just the latest marketing ploy, and perhaps the most convincing to date as many of us are sure that the latest product will transform us. It seems like the volume of health & beauty ‘influencers’ on Instagram is completely disproportionate to all other content. While on one hand it’s great that ‘normal people’ can advocate brands and make money selling products,
but please remember that beauty bloggers have their own agenda too and you don’t need all of the stuff they say you do.
Treat it all just the same way as the beauty magazines – remember when you learned what airbrushing was? Being comfortable in your own skin is THE most attractive trait and from my experience and personal preference – a more natural look is the best.
Madonna is dead right. We are more obsessed with ‘stuff’ these days than ever before and it’s sad really how we think that inanimate objects are going to fill some emotional void we have inside us. And it’s so easy to get sucked in, too easy, I don’t even need to leave my house and I still manage to spend a fortune with a few clicks of a button and it’s there waiting for me the next day like magic – my bank account is also magically debited!
Sometimes I even get a bit anxious if I haven’t ordered a package in a couple of weeks and I try to think of something that I surely must need so I can go online and get my fix. It’s completely ridiculous! If I do by some miracle come to my senses and actually realise that I might not need it, the product then follows me around as a creepy little pop up everywhere I go until I finally cave.
Remember! You don’t need half the shit the internet is so good at convincing you that you do.
As Tracey Chapman sang:
“I won’t die lonely
I’ll have it all prearranged
A grave that’s deep & wide enough
For me and my mountains of things”
We live in a developed country where thankfully the majority of us already have everything we need. After that, if you have your health and real connections to other people – you’re doing alright believe me.