Social Media

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Back in the day (excuse me, youngsters, while I polish my zimmerframe) when Facebook was just a glimmer in Mark Zuckerberg's eye and MySpace was the place to be, I was naive enough to think that social media would be brilliant for me. An opportunity to express myself through a screen without face to face communication. Perfect for an introvert.

How wrong I was.

Scroll through fb for 5 minutes and most of what you'll find is selfies. Drunk selfies, duck pout selfies, selfies with friends, selfies with pets, selfies with food, selfies on a beach, selfies on the bus... Then there's baby photos, pet videos, updates about the latest poo your child did (I kid you not, potty training news has been on my newsfeed) updates about how crap the day job is...

My cynical opinion of social media is that it enables us average people to feel like celebrities, to feel like others are interested in our normal daily lives the same way fans follow their favourite stars. It makes us feel liked. It's a sad state of affairs when many young teenagers suffer depression and anxiety because they don't have many likes or followers on social media, which they assume means no one likes them. It's true, it's happening in this modern world and us adults are letting kids down by allowing it to happen.

Social media has never been positive for me. I had fb for years but only recently deleted my account because I was getting no benefit from being a member. You see, I didn't want to tell the world about myself, I wanted to share my interests. I didn't want to tell people what I was doing, how I looked, what I ate. I shared historical art memes (if you don't find those funny I do not get you), videos of my video game mishaps, articles about politics, art, books, fictional characters.

Most social media has become a tool to share a fabricated identity.

Not all social media is alike. Twitter gives people a platform to post reactionary opinions in 140 characters or so. Tumblr actually does allow you to make posts about your interests rather than yourself but, more often than not, it descends into all out war between different fandoms.

Yes, I'm overlooking the good that social media can do. It can raise awareness of issues, give a voice to those unheard, help raise money, give people news (as long as it's not fake news).

But social media's best talent is the ability to make people feel bad about themselves. It encourages popularity, which is a false construct. People lose the ability to think for themselves, like lemmings careening off a cliff. They'll copy whatever others are doing if it means being popular, repeating opinions and slogans they don't even understand or agree with, if it's popular. Humanity has done that since the dawn of man, it's a survival instinct - fit in with others so you have their protection, it's more vulnerable to be alone. But it would be nice to think some of us have evolved since then.

Please remember that although much of this chapter is the truth as I see it, it's just opinion, and I'm writing this with the intent of providing entertainment. If you enjoy social media, posting selfies and whatnot, don't stop doing it if it makes you happy. All I ask is that you remind yourself from time to time, that what you see on social media is probably a lie.

Nobody posts the bad stuff, the low times, their selfies during depression or at the end of the day in their pjs with no makeup and bad lighting. They don't show you their worries and disappointments. Their lives seem happy and wonderful, when really they could be falling to pieces. They've taken about 20 selfies from different angles before they find one they like, and edited it in a photo app.

Social media is a fantasy. It isn't real life, even though that's what it suggests. Don't judge your happiness or others' by what you see on social media.

And while we are on the topic of popularity, I cannot express this enough: being popular is not the be all and end all of everything.

It's certainly not as good as it looks. Who wants Kim Kardasian's life? She can't take a dump without someone wanting to know. She can never relax. That kind of life has you always thinking how do I look, how will people see me, am I saying the right thing, doing the right thing, how do I look when I'm sweating like a pig at the gym and is that acceptable? That's exhausting.

When you constantly think about how other people judge what you are doing, you can't let go, can't relax, can't think about anything but yourself, and it leads to anxiety. I was never popular but I would do anything to avoid being teased at school, so I became so aware of everything I did, down to how I sat, how I talked, how I flicked my hair, what expression I had. I was an anxious mess and still got teased anyway. It's so unhealthy to analyse yourself to that extent. You end up pretending for so long that you lose yourself. Only do things that help you grow.

What does it matter if people don't like you? So what? Every time you feel unliked, a failure, or uncool, ask yourself, so what? Why does it matter if Jennifer doesn't like me, who cares about her? Why does it matter if people don't want to spend time with me cause they think I'm boring, I can have fun by myself. Why does it matter that no one likes my blog/youtube video/wattpad book, I had fun making it and that's what matters.

If you aren't popular it doesn't mean failure, it doesn't mean you are unliked and unwanted. You can be successful, loved and appreciated by one or two people your whole life and that's all you need.

Do all the millions of Lady Gaga's followers really love her? They don't know the real her. They know the woman she chooses to show them, nothing more. She hides behind a name and a constructed facade of crazy clothes because she's a performance artist. Like Beyoncé has Sasha Fierce and David Bowie had Ziggy Stardust, so Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta has Lady Gaga.

Does your one best mate love you? You bet. Do they like the real you, the good and the bad? You bet. Will they support you in hard times? You bet. Lady Gaga's followers can only offer comments and likes, and that can't hold a candle to a shoulder to cry on.

We all, at some point in our lives, judge ourselves based on what others seem to think of us. I've done it all my life. But what others think of you is rarely true, especially if they barely know you.

You'll probably find that most popular people are just good chameleons. They adapt their behaviour depending on who they are with, meaning that they please everyone. This isn't being true to yourself.

Each of us is different in some way, shaped by our life experiences. Our individuality is what makes us who we are instead of clones. When we have differences, it's impossible for everyone to like everyone else. We can't all like the same things. It's inevitable that some people will dislike us, just as we dislike some people. That's not a bad thing. Even if alot of people dislike you, screw them. How likeable are they, really? Probably not much. I never found popular people likeable. I don't like the gobby youtubers and the posey celebs most people seem to adore. The people I genuinely admire are often under valued. They are usually those who are confident about their differences. Rebels swimming against the tide instead of being like everybody else.

In order to set trends and make something popular, you need to take a risk on something different. You need to lead instead of follow. If it doesn't become popular, at least you tried. But that risk has to be taken. So becoming popular is about starting off different.

Make your own goddamned music even if nobody, and I mean nobody, sings along. Because at least you've got the ability to think for yourself.

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