By: Miranda Mowrey, Columnist
A couple of months ago, I reached out to my friend who lives in Indiana to say hello. I mentioned that she seemed like she was doing really well based solely off of what I saw on social media.
“Actually, I am having the worst semester of my life,” she responded.
I would have never known. Her pictures showed her face bubbling over with happiness and her recent Facebook status announced that she landed the lead role in the school play. It didn’t seem like the worst semester of her life to me.
Growing up during the era of Instagram likes and Snapchat stories, this pressure we feel to be perfect and show off our “perfect” life to others can be so overwhelming. We are constantly being sold this image of other people who seem beautiful, successful, popular, and most of all, happy. And this leads us to think to ourselves: “Why am I not as beautiful, successful, popular, or happy as others? What is wrong with me?”
When I asked a group of Towson University students whether social media made them feel better, worse, or neither better nor worse about themselves, none of the respondents marked social media as making them feel better about themselves. This isn’t a surprise and neither are the results of the 2017 survey by the Huffington Post, which revealed that 60% of the 28 to 73 year-old respondents reported that their use of social media negatively impacted their self esteem.
Let’s start by being brutally honest about the underlying intent of most social media. The purpose of posting an Instagram picture, Facebook status, or Snapchat story almost always is to communicate one message: “My life is so flipping amazing and I am incredibly happy. Did I mention life is all rainbows and unicorns and I never run into any problems, like, ever?”
Now, tell me one person you know who genuinely believes this about his or her own life. I bet it’s really hard to do. That is because no one has the life that social media portrays them as having. Social media is far from an accurate representation of anyone’s reality.
News flash: the high-quality, beautiful picture that Brittany just posted is in fact the 67th picture that her poor mother was forced to take of Brittany sipping a mimosa at her birthday brunch. Actually, Brittany’s birthday brunch absolutely sucked, despite what the picture and the 703 likes beneath it imply. Her boyfriend never bothered to show up, the eggs she ordered were too runny and undercooked, not to mention she could barely even keep them down, as she was aggressively hungover from drinking the night before.
Don’t get me wrong – social media is a great way to stay connected with others and spread important messages quickly without any geographical limitations. And it is not a bad thing, either, to want to post a picture or status about your wins in life every once in a while. However, make a habit of reminding yourself that whatever you see on social media is not reality. When you look in the mirror at the acne you have to cover up before showing up for your double shift at work, and then go on Instagram to see that Chad and all of his tan, rich, good-looking friends are living it up in Miami for spring break, instead of throwing your phone down and letting it get to you, think about my friend from earlier. Social media is the most unreliable indicator for how well someone is doing in life.
Stop comparing yourself to others and stop constantly checking who viewed your Snapchat story, and start looking up from your phone screen every once in a while. I promise that you will learn more about life and those around you through your own eyes than through the screen of your cracked iPhone 7.