Why I Despise Social Media

I despise social media. I always have. My dislike for it extends from my own insecurities, though my reasoning is justifiable. I wanted to share my opinion because technology is creating a revolution, but in order for it be beneficial, we need to be more authentic. Social media clearly has advantages: it allows countless people to promote their work freely and remotely. It gives us widespread and instant access to resources and each other.  In a sense, it’s made people into resources. After all, it’s who you know, not what you know.

I agree and disagree with that statement.  I would not be in the position I am in today if it were not for the people I knew.  However, what I know has still played a major roll. It has allowed me to not criticize myself so harshly when I’m on social media, which brings me to why I despise it:

Social media is a façade.

I compare it to my impression of New York City. I mentioned in my previous post, ‘Manifesting Iceland,’ that I had a twenty something hour layover in New York. Ty and I killed a lot of time people watching in Manhattan. Just about every man was a derivative of the other: same suit, same leather loafers, same briefcase. I made some comment about being in the midst of successful business people (note I say ‘man’ because with men it was easier to spot uniformity – the women around us were dressed too diversely to make any generalizations).

Ty laughed in my face. “Look again.” He said. “Their walking around in this horrible heat. You can see the wrinkles in the backs of their shirts. And their shoes aren’t that nice.”

In addition to studying political science and economics, Ty has a thing for shoes.

“So?” I asked.

“They’re just workers.” He explained. “They’re not making any real money.  It’s all spent to uphold an image that they’re some hotshot in Manhattan. The people with real money aren’t wearing suits because they don’t have to impress anyone. The people with real money have their shirts pressed.  And they’ll go immediately from the building into a car that’s waiting for them. Don’t let images fool you.”

The same applies for social media. Don’t let someone else’s apparent wealth fool you.

Social media Influencers are actually advised to promote themselves as richer or more famous than they actually are. By doing so, they attract more engagement. Why? Because who wants to engage with just some person trying to make it like everyone else? It can be boiled down to basic psychology. By promoting ourselves as more online than we are in reality we satisfy the natural urge to stroke our egos. Studies show that positive self-reinforcement on social media activates the medial prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain identified with self-definition. In extreme cases, it can become an addiction and manifest into narcissism.

It’s no surprise that social media makes people feel insecure, anxious, or envious. It’s for these reasons I’ve fallen behind in the social media game compared to my peers. When Instagram and Facebook became popular, I was in middle school. I was weird, really weird, and an outcast. I didn’t want to be judged by my peers online as well.

My argument is mostly based around Instagram. I think we all know Facebook is the epitome of legitimate fake news, and notorious for people promoting their opinions as facts. Instagram is definitely more artsy, and allows people to metaphorically – and literally – filter their lives.

To reiterate my point, I’ll share an instance that happened to me recently on Instagram.

I reposted something from @KeepOnLearning about the benefits of investing. I’ve recently been getting into investing – it comes with the territory when you’re dating an economics major.

The comments I received surprised me. They all said the same thing: that the person who spent $650 on a vacation gained memories, and was therefore better off than the person who invested. I was confused to hear this. Of course memories are priceless.  I understand that very well – I absolutely adore traveling. But that doesn’t mean the person who invested will never travel. That doesn’t mean the person who invested will have to wait until their old to travel. All that means is that the person who invested now can spend $650 and still have $700 left.

But what I think it most important about this post is that you shouldn’t take what you see at face value.  I have to tell myself this when I feel like my posts don’t make me look pretty enough. Or that I haven’t done enough, or am doing enough, or am becoming enough. That’s fucked up. I can’t rightfully compare myself to something I don’t know for certain to be anything more than a façade.

I contend that we need to post more authentic things. We should challenge ourselves to be more upfront about our failures and our shortcomings. I believe that this will incline us to support each other more. I want people to travel – I believe the best gift of all is seeing the world and connecting with it. But that doesn’t mean it should cost us our savings. That doesn’t mean it should cost us our honesty. There’s ways to enhance both.

Let’s utilize social media for all that’s its good for: connecting to each other and utilizing resources. Let’s add a little more balance to our feed.  Let’s let each other know it’s okay to be honest, sad, afraid, and insecure. Let’s let each other know it’s okay to have emotions and imperfections. Let’s relate to each other. What’s something you struggle with? What’s something you’re afraid to say?

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