Why is it that every time I go on social media I begin to feel self-conscious about my appearance and question if I’m doing enough with my life? Why is it that being on social media makes my self-esteem take a nosedive in a matter of minutes? I’ve come to the conclusion that social media is like a magic show. You’re going to perform your greatest stunts and trickeries, but you’ll keep the secrets of the process to yourself.
On social media, you have the power to decide what to share or not share, and this can be really misleading to followers. People are going to share content that highlights the exciting moments in their lives, and in some cases, these “highlight” moments aren’t even real.
Are You Living an Insta Lie? Social Media Vs. Reality is a perfect representation of this. Ditch the Label created this campaign video to spread awareness of the issue, and to expose the most common lies that people tell on social media. It went viral with over 58 million views.
This manipulation of reality on social media sites, like Instagram, is what drives individuals into making comparisons between their lives and what’s shared online. In fact, the Royal Society for Public Health ran a survey of almost 1,500 teen and young adults who agreed that Instagram is the worst social media site for mental health. They gave the platform points for its use of self-expression and self-identity, but it was also associated with high levels of anxiety, depression, bullying and fear of missing out (FOMO).
For example, when couples are formed and announce it on social media you’ll commonly get the “In a relationship” notification followed by a flurry of couplie photos. As time goes on you’ll find that these relationships appear perfect in every way, but what you don’t see are all the fights, disagreements, and all other natural pitfalls that happen in every relationship. This is very misleading to the realities of relationships, and it’s what triggers the “comparing game.” We begin to put ourselves down for not being able to live up to such a perfect relationship, but really, we’re just hurting our own self-esteem for falling for this fake reality posted on social media!
Here’s the frustrating part. It’s not encouraged, or sometimes even tolerated, to vent about the bad/sad moments in our lives on social media. So now there’s this spoken/unspoken restriction of emotional speech that these platform users encourage you not to engage in. Will there ever a solution to this dilemma, or will we have to learn to just take social media with a grain of salt?
For now, I believe that social media will continue to set unrealistic expectations and create feelings of inadequacy. Instagram users have become excellent illusionists.