I want to preface this post with a little background on myself. I'm a 24-year-old woman who spends a lot of time on the internet daily. Working in photography, editing, social media work, content creating, marketing for my business, and gaining inspiration from outside sources. It'd be an absolute lie to say I don't care about Instagram or that I am the exception to it. I am aware of the amount of time I spend on the internet. In fact, I have set timers on all of my apps to hold me accountable to the amount of time I do spend. I allow myself a window of time online everyday to get my things done. However; social media is my job. Without Instagram, I wouldn't be able to do my job well. As crazy as that is, we live in a world where people get paid to take photos and post them on social media. Do I love it? YES. Am I grateful for the opportunity? ABSOLUTELY. In fact I have always loved the industry of fashion, photography, modeling, and campaigns since I was a little girl. I'm one of those people who carefully curate my social channels because I know it represents who I am as a person as well as my brand. I want to make sure I am being as true to me as I can be, not painting any false identities or trying to be someone I'm not. It can be overwhelming sometimes because I am constantly asking myself "Is this giving off the wrong impression?" or "Does this align with my brand?" This isn't a bad thing to care about these things. But the obsession of it all is what I want to address. I use my platform on Instagram as a visual representation of my résumé. Because it is my job.
However; I feel that I have dipped into this industry for work enough, that when I am mindlessly scrolling for pleasure, I know when it's time to get off. I see the damage that the internet, and not just Instagram, has done to this generation. It has caused alot of pain and has blurred the lines of what is reality vs what isn't. This includes anything on the internet that makes us look down at our phones instead of the world around us. Messaging, emails, social media apps. ect. Facebook is A BIG ONE. Its not just millennials that are subject to this topic. Please realize this. Adults are not the exception. Everyone can fall under the spell of comparing themselves to other people on the internet.
I speak from experience. Experience personally and experience watching people around me. For example, there was about 14 people in my coffee shop the other day. Some on dates, some families together, some friends catching up over a cup of coffee. Except it is quiet. Dead silent. And when I look up, every single person in the whole shop is on their phone. For hours. Not speaking to anyone. Or even looking up for that matter. I am guilty of this as well. Not listening to a friend tell a story because what I am doing on my phone is more important at that moment... When it probably isn't. This is the problem. We are missing out on moments, memories, relationships, stories from friends and families. Why? Because we are addicted and absolutely glued to our phones. I am NOT perfect in this area, I just see it and I want to share some things I have learned. *Hear me out*
HOW SOCIAL MEDIA CAN BE BAD
Do you serve your phone, or does your phone serve you? We control our phones. We control how much time we spend on them. They don't control us. We have the power to put it down and take a break. WE have that power. This is what we have to remember. When we begin to treat our posts on social media like a performance everyone's watching, we start staging our life in unhealthy ways. If you continuously use social media in this way, it becomes a place of judgment, comparison, and self-doubt. We spend our days in front of screens comparing our bodies, our personalities, our friends, our families, our jobs, our success, our problems, to other people. Sometimes even strangers. We compare every little thing. This is so unhealthy for our mental health.
COMPARISON IS THE THEIF OF JOY.
Because of this, we often start disliking things that are unique about us because they are "different" or "not what everyone else is doing" or "not what everyone else thinks I should be doing" We start doubting our own passions and the gifts and talents that we have. We look at the things we love and start to question everything. We start doubting our own uniqueness and start wanting to become someone else. Do you know what happens when everyone wants to be someone else? Everyone starts looking EXACTLY the SAME. Though it may not feel like it, if you're constantly on social media, it can subconsciously shape your views, opinions, and actions. There is only one you in the entire world. Let that sink in. Only one you. Yet we spend our days scrolling through the internet wishing we had another job, that spouse, those friends, that body, those clothes, that lifestyle, and we start forgetting what our purpose is in life. We determine our own social and personal worth based on how we measure up to others. This is called social media anxiety and depression. It's a real thing. It's so scary that constantly watching others peoples lives make us forget who we are.
Is it possible to stop caring? I think so. We have to realize what our worth is. Our worth in Christ. Who we are. Now, there are some terrible things that can make us feel so bad on social media, and I wouldn't want to tell someone not to care if they are bullied, harassed, or targeted. That is a different experience and one that you have to process in a responsible way. I'm not getting into that side of things. But we can stop caring about superficial things like what we will post, who will see, how well it will do or not. Stop putting your worth in likes and followers. Our validation isn't from other people.
OK WE GET IT TAYLOR. Social media can be a scary place if we dont have self control and set boundaries with it. It can truly be a real problem. However; what a lot people forget is that it can be such a tool as well!
I asked you guys on Instagram, how social media can be used for good, these were the answers.
HOW SOCIAL MEDIA CAN BE USED FOR GOOD
-The fact that I can share my hobbies and interests.
-Staying connected with people who are far away.
-Getting new ideas for outfits, home decor, and recipes.
-Keeping up with friends and family.
-A way to express yourself.
-Sharing life with other people.
-Sharing adventures with others.
-Using my platform to reach others.
-Appreciating different perspectives that people have.
-Sharing the gospel with strangers.
-Being inspired by others.
-Sharing a positive message to a wide variety of people.
-Learning from other peoples experiences.
-Seeing peoples artistic expressions of their life.
-Seeing how creative people can be.
-Introducing me to new things.
-Seeing the beauty people see in the world.
-Raising awareness on certain issues.
-Using your voice in an encouraging way.
Although social media does expose us all to things going on in the world. Some good and some bad. We can all agree that it isn't going anywhere anytime soon. So we should at least be aware of how we are using it. Are we obsessed with social media? Can we live without it? Do we need to take a break for our mental health? Are we posting things that are a representation of who we want to be and not who we actually are? Are we missing out at social gatherings, dinners, and our home life by constantly looking down at our phones? These are all solid questions. And if these questions poke you the wrong way or make you feel a little uncomfortable it's because one of these are speaking to you. And thats okay. It's good to realize the truth about things we may be blind too.
It's obviously different for every individual. However; I think it's SO healthy to check our hearts in this. I think it's great to ask ourselves these questions and make changes where we are struggling. Let's work together to make social media something that can add to our lives and doesn't take us away from things that really matter.