Social Media: The Palace of Illusions

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.


Aesthetically pleasing or funny, why not both?

When I have free time, I tend to pull out my phone and scroll through Instagram as a quick way to entertain myself. Mainly I go on there to check out what my friends and family have been up to, but I also happen to follow a decent number of pages that strictly post meme content. I begin to follow these pages and within a week I’ve become annoyed with the sheer amount of obnoxious memes that pop up on my Instagram feed every single day.

I predict that many people can relate to this annoying occurrence since memes have become so popular, but recently I noticed a change in my newsfeed. I wasn’t seeing nearly as many memes popping up as before! I began asking myself, did I unfollow all of those accounts? Did someone hack into my Instagram account? Where have all the memes gone?! Then I found this article from The Atlantic written by Taylor Lorenz called, “Instagram Meme Accounts Are Pretty Now,” which quickly answered all of my questions.

Instagram meme content creators (mainly young teenagers and tweens) are purposely changing their posts main image so that their grids look more aesthetically pleasing at first glance. Meme-and-theme pages look a lot like a general aesthetics account, a type of page dedicated to posting on a single color scheme or theme, but instead they also follow up the main image with popular memes.

At first I thought that maybe this would confuse my brain into thinking I had begun following a bunch of nature sites (which I already do) and that I might just scroll past the images without realizing that the content I was looking for was just a left swipe away, but then I realized that there was a purpose behind this visual shift in meme content. The administrators of these pages may be searching for some way to share a form of self-expression through these memes; initial branding for themselves. According to Lorenz, “Teenagers who create the accounts say the biggest appeal is that meme-and-theme pages allow for more complex self-expression.”

Meme-and-theme has grown into a popular community where Instagram administrators can forge connections with one another and swap new, discovered memes as well as promote each other’s pages. This new form of social and artistic expression has added a new dimension to the social media platform, Instagram. I no longer have to scroll in confusion, and I can appreciate the creative people who improve social media every day!

Welcome to my blog!

Thanks for joining me! My name is Elyssa and I’m very excited to be building a blog discussing all things social media! My goal is NOT to change anyone’s opinion, but instead spread useful and meaningful information about the evergrowing world of social media.

The Sky’s the Limit!

I will be covering a myriad of topics and ideas that relate to social media, like how might social media be affecting your health? What are the benefits of creating a profile and participating on social media? How can you maintain a social media presence? These are all questions that I plan to do research on and deliver concrete information back to you, my readers! Keep in mind, I do also plan on relaying a few of my own personal thoughts and experiences throughout these blog postings, but that is just to make the postings a bit more personal and not so “academic.”

The reason why I chose the topic of “social media” for this blog is because I’m very interested in possibly becoming a social media manager for my future career! Not only that, I believe that there are many conversations that have been left unspoken, or mildly discussed, about the topic that could use further attention. Social media isn’t going to slow down or die off anytime soon (if ever), which means it is important that researchers (and PR students) continue to conduct frequent research as the field itself continues to evolve.

What will social media look like in 5 years? 10? 20? Will it still look the same way as it does now, or will the advancement of technology redesign its format completely? These are all questions that may not seem all that important at the moment, but in reality, they will all contribute to further our understanding, as well as prepare us for what could be just around the corner in the world of social media!

Here’s the good news. For those out there that have little to no interest in joining the world of social media, as of right now you still have the choice whether or not you want to join. It should be noted though, that slowly but surely social media may become so prevalent in society that it may become unavoidable. For example, just under 40 years ago the first ever laptop was created, and nowadays nearly all college students feel like they are required to own one or else it may prevent/hinder their education.

The sky’s the limit when it comes to social media! The many platforms can take you almost anywhere and allow you to connect with nearly anyone. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Pillowfort, Snapchat, and many more at your disposal! You no longer have to look up at the sky and wonder what your neighbor is thinking; instead you can read about it.