The Mask of Social Media

By Emma Boyer.

What are the first things you think about when your head is filled with the sound of your obnoxious alarm in the morning? You’re probably wishing to yourself that you had set a later alarm, but after that I would guess–like most teenagers or young adults–your first thoughts go toward your phone. Most days I do that without even catching myself.

You begin scrolling through what you missed from the day before, subconsciously noticing the little things you wouldn’t think you’d have picked out. A friend got a new car, the gleam of it seems to blind you even through a photo. A cousin posts a picture of their dog leaping happily into the air to catch a Frisbee in the greenest of grass. A person you met one time through a friend shares a glimpse into the date they had under a starry night.

With all this in mind you start your day. In social settings you begin to stand straighter, hoping to be as tall as the people surrounding you. While waiting for lunch, you might begin to chat happily about the promotion you may get at work, but draw away from an discussion on how badly you need the money that promotion will give you. By the end of the day as you lie down to sleep, you’re finally allowed to relax. No one to please, just yourself and your thoughts.

Everything about this day feels a bit staged doesn’t it? Not only did how others were acting influence your actions, but beginning your day with social media itself had an affect as well. Those images you first see portrays an air of perfection about them. The border collie that hurled itself after the Frisbee was timed for the right shot, making you envious of the fun times your cousin spends with their dog. The car that you so desperately wish you had was really just cleaned that day to make it look better than it actually is. The seemingly perfect date that had you gushing over was really all devised by the acquaintance you know; they only had their significant other show up for the photos.

What I’m seeing more of everyday are things like this. Many people are so fixated on creating their perfect scenario, the scenario that does not allow them to show their weaknesses lest they seem vulnerable. The scenario that shows only the best highlights of their life, almost begging you to look at those without wondering where all the flaws to this person and their life are.

This portrayal of self image can be destructive. Those who are constantly going through social media will sometimes experience the fear of missing out, which leads them to think that they need to be posting better content at a much faster pace. It leads teenagers and young adults to pick up on addictive habits of constantly checking their phone or becoming so focused on creating the perfect atmosphere that it can damage their personal relationships.

Always worrying about how you’re viewed on social media can seep into everyday life. Constant flow of other people’s lives can also affect how someone would normally interact with a group of people or friends from school. They’ll want to show these people that they are exactly how they portray themselves online and in real life. Instead of building concrete relationships with peers, it becomes a game of, ‘How far can I go before I need to pretend like my life is happy and whole?’

I believe that this part of human nature is inevitable. People are designed to feel jealousy, loneliness, and all sorts of other feelings of either being left out or not being good enough. This does not, however, become a viable excuse to create habits that can lead us to feeling this way all the time. I do not know a single person that has their life completely together or how they would like it to be, and I have found that that is okay. What is important is to keep it real with those who surround you. In the long run it will create less stress for you and better connections with them.

 

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