We all do it … everyday multiple times or sometimes almost non-stop. We all are addicted to the temptations social media has to offer. 1 out of 4 world citizen uses some sort of social network, Instagram now has an unbelievable monthly user number of 700 million, growing faster than ever.
And social media channels such as Instagram and Facebook indeed are a great tool for anybody desiring to have its very own little stage to display his or her message, talent or today‘s lunch to the world.
But why could that affect young people negatively? And how can they measure their own worth in likes and followers? And how does that link with the exploding cases of body dysmorphia, anorexia and the booming plastic surgery industry?
My special focus is on young females and the impact of so called “Instagirls“, Bloggers or Youtubers have on them. Social Media channels deliver more information than anyone could ever want, a true storm of images delivering the impression that the previously mentioned role models life the perfect lives: They are incredibly fit, have the perfect body and are claiming that they could achieve it without plastic surgery and worst case with some dubious “Skinny-Whatever-Tea”. They have perfect hair and makeup (always), do never show any traits of weakness, sickness or other undesired and perfectly normal things life brings along. These Instagirls somewhat all look the same, they dress the same, they travel to the same destinations, they all have amazing lifestyles and that all though the seemingly do not work. And if they decide to display their relationships than obviously their partners are just as perfect as themselves. And to my very personal displeasure they prefer to display themselves mostly with very little clothing and a even tinyer or not recognizable message.
And this seemingly leads to the misconception that attention, likes and followers are a measurement of happiness. That their lives and looks are desirable, that that is what is needed to be accepted, loved and admired. A vicious and tragic cycle, the more attention these type of accounts get and the larger their fanbases becomes, the more girls will envy them and try to copy their lifestyle the best they can. And that is simply not possible. So they end up dissatisfied with their body, their faces and their lives. They feel excluded and unloved but social media has become so dominant in their lives that switching off is not an option.
Posting a picture and receiving likes or getting a message on whats app causes our body to release dopamine giving us a feeling of gratification. We easily get used to this effect, it causes subconscious addiction, the same effect that causes drug addiction f.e. of cocaine. Displaying a perfect life despite maybe having a bad day or a rough patch becomes necessary. And the rush is instant and through smart-phones always accessible. A sneaky and cheap addiction that leaves us with the constant subtle feeling that our life is not perfect/unique/ glamorous enough.
My personal opinion. Forget about perfection, either real or pretended perfection. Social media is a carefully planned illusion. Nobody would ever watch a Hollywood Blockbuster and think this it the actor‘s actual life. My recommendation, when you catch yourself doing something solely with the purpose to share it on social media and you feel like it would be a waste of time if you cannot share it, than take the luxury of a social media detox. First and foremost you should make memories for yourself, not because anybody applauds for them but because it is the only possession that will stick with you forever. So switch off your phone until you feel like you don‘t need it anymore (except for google maps which we all need :-))
Focus on your strengths, follow Instagram accounts of people that display more than designer handbags and expensive cars, people than have a talent, a passion or a message that inspires you to do more and not frustrates you with something than you will never have and excludes you from a circle that build its meaning on perfect eyebrows, a low body fat index and five star Dubai hotels.
I love social media, it inspires me everyday. We now all have a place where we can express ourselves and communication never was that easy. And that should be the main function of it, including people, building bridges, exploring opportunities.