Ahhhhh, social media, the necessary evil of our times. Love of hate it, its here to stay. But is social media the new validation tool? Grab your cuppa, lets discuss.
I will put it straight out there, Im not the most knowledgable or, if Im really laying my cards on the table, interested, in social media gal on the block. I know it rules the world, but I don’t get the rules. Personally, I never was into Facebook, (still not) so maybe I just don’t have that wiring? Its always, always been about writing for me, so maybe I havent as yet, mentally invested that heavily into social media?
**This is not in anyway discounting the importance and relevance social media has to us all, and is in no way passing judgement. You know me by now, I have a curious mind, over think everything and like to understand things. I just really, really want to hear what other people think about this subject**
Is Social Media the New Validation Tool
This post was kicked off by a couple of things. Firstly, a conversation the other day with my two teenage sons, that obviously, have been born into the social media generation. They don’t know a life without social media. Isn’t that strange? Thankfully, they are not obsessive with it, and tend to use things like text and snapchat more than anything else. Chatting with them the other day about Instagram, (Im trying to understand it a bit more) one of my sons was telling me that if a photo that one his friends posts, (a girl), dosent get a certain amount of “likes” then she deletes the photo! She wouldnt leave a photo up on her grid that hasn’t reached a certain number of likes. It would upset her that she hadnt reached some level or standard that she had set herself. Whaattttt? It actually got me thinking about the very real impact social media could have on mental health. We, as a nation, are seeing increasing numbers of people suffering with mental health problems, all ages, all walks of life. Is social media fueling this?
As anyone that has been around on this ole blog of mine a while, Instagram is the platform that I dislike (and don’t understand, but am experimenting with, post coming on that soon) the most. Frankly, and do excuse my choice of wording here, its all bollocks! Its pretend. We all, me included, try to post the best photos that we can. Are we striving to create an image? Im not sure. Maybe. I have definitely had those moments of feeling like my Instagram dosent look nice enough, is not consistent with my blog content, not good enough. I want to make my photos better.
You will however, often see me make up free and in my pyjamas on my Insta stories, but, and this was the second thing that inspired this post, someone actually messaged me to say that they thought I was brave, and wished they were as brave, to be bare faced on social media! Wtf! She actually said Brave? Brave? For not being dolled up to the nines, full face of make up all the time? I don’t live my life like that, why would I pretend I do! Im certainly comfortable with people seeing my flaws, Im a normal, carrying too much weight, slowly but surely becoming wrinkled, not particularly self-confident, crazy haired, 44 year old woman for gawds sake. I wasn’t offended, but, being the over thinker I am, I questioned if she was hinting I was a minger, or that as a beauty blogger, I shouldn’t be showing my flaws. For a few hours it worried me. It really hit home at where we are at with the craziness.
Iv voiced this before, but the part that I really struggle with, but interests me the most, (and there is absolutely no judgement here by the way, its curiosity) is the need for validation that it seems to ignite in people. Not only because I struggle to see why the acceptance of strangers is so important, but because I think it is dangerous and destructive for our mental health. However, I have also found myself, on low days, teetering on the edge of thinking Im not worthy or good enough. To who? What stranger am I worried about not liking me? Don’t get me wrong, I too want people to hit that like button on a photo I have worked hard to create, but, you have people that are usually pretty confident, strong minded people getting themselves het up because their last post only got x amount of likes or someone has unfollowed them. Whats it all about? I wish people already knew their own beautiful, perfect worth! Id love to really get into the bare bones of it and understand. Iv mentioned before that the psychology of the mind really fascinates me, so I thought Id do some exploring on this. Yes, Im weird, my own mind likes to connect with other minds and understand them….
Cast your minds back to being at school, (yes you orrible lot, I can still just remember those days). Those PE lessons when you all had to stand in a line, the popular kids were told they were captain, and the dreaded picking teams started. It was just horrible. My heart always went out to the less sporty girls, as you knew they would be standing there squirming, looking at the floor, just waiting for the torture to be over. I wonder, has social media become the new team picking? Is the desire to be picked, liked and accepted so in-ground in us from a young age, that social media facilitates and fuels that need ?
We all want to be liked. Its human nature. We all want to feel that peoples opinion of us is a good one. There is nothing wrong in that, and, I hope, it makes us better humans because we don’t set out to intentionally offend or hurt anyone. Within our families and friendship groups, we want to feel we are important to our friends/family and that our presence in their lives is valuable and enriching. Thats a given, But how has that extended into social media? People actually, sometimes invest more time and effort into the strangers on their social media than they do with the real people in their lives. How crazy is that? Someones actual mood/day can be affected by something a stranger has said on one of their photos (like me with the stories lady) or by the fact that someone unfollowed them. Let that sink in for a moment…………Its barmy no? Surely that is detrimental to our mental health. Having that level of investment in all the tosh? That is what fascinates me.
Think about what you like about social media. For me, twitter is fun and I like the banter on it. I like that so little can be said in so few characters. Its amusing and makes me laugh. With Instagram, I have two accounts. One is my personal account where I post my life pictures. Its a private account that I share with friends and family. Drunk photos, family photos, nights out etc, you get the picture (pun intended….) My blog Instagram is where things related to my blog are posted. Recently, (because Im trying a few hats on with it), its become a feed of slightly more themed, staged, thought out photos, with snippets of my life written up in the caption. You wont really see many photos of my friends and family, but you will see make up photos, product photos, pretty lifestyle type pictures, because that is what my blog is about.
Those are the sort of accounts I enjoy and follow too, lifestyle, interiors, beauty and travel type accounts. I do sometimes post on Instastories, and its the stripped down, (make up free, brave apparently) version of me. Usually just me voicing random thoughts. No act, no pretence.
But the casualness of Instastories is also changing. We have all seen the “sorry I haven’t been on all day” speeches that are given on some peoples stories if they have not posted for a few hours? Honestly, and this is a genuine question, do people even notice if someone hasn’t posted?? (I would love to know if you do notice if people you follow have or haven’t posted a story for a day, please let me know, its all in the name of research) Again, the fact that people feel they have to apologise for not posting a story for a day, shows their level of investment. They feel pressure to have to go on and say something, anything every few hours. Whats the fun in that! I saw recently, a biggish Instagramer, say that she felt her stories should be more professional and film like, as she had seen other big Instagramers do that. Noooooooooooooooooooooooo! I beg of you, please don’t make Instastories like Instagram. Lets keep the more real, fun element to at least that bit.
So, I suppose this long ramble (well done if you are still here, we are nearly finished) is asking what you think about the affects of social media? Is it the new way we validate ourselves?
Does it bother you if your latest photo only gets a few likes? Do you love it, cant get enough of it? Do you look at your accounts first thing in the morning, last thing at night? Or do you feel it all lost its fun element? Are you always watching your numbers? Do you feel that your popularity and acceptance on social media is important to you? Do you ever feel upset by something on social media and it affects your day? Do you ever feel anxious when posting? Thats a lot of questions eh? I really value and appreciate your input and opinions on this and feel free to be as honest as you like!
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