It’s one of our guiltiest pleasures- catching a glimpse into the life of someone else. Late night scrolling through your Instagram feed you’re likely to come across an onslaught of travel pics, celebrity selfies, and perfectly toned bodies. But when you roll out of bed and look in the mirror you get smacked in the face with real life. Messy hair, under eye circles all outfitted in your favourite tattered high school sweats. A stark contrast from even your own feed filled with filtered and primped memories. Because if we’re honest with ourselves there’s a good chance we too are a part of the problem.
It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of wanting to present the perfect life on social media. But what happens when you can’t see through the smoke and mirrors and you begin to measure your own life by the unrealistic standards of flawless people living perfect lives on social media? It's likely our own self confidence takes a hit.
Sadly studies have proven that social media often leaves users feeling less than, and this creates a cumulative effect over continued use. As a result our profiles have become increasingly curated by hiding imperfections and exaggerating positive experiences. This skewed version of reality affects our ability to accurately assess our own lives and creates a negative cycle of low self esteem.
So how do we swing the pendulum the other way to present a more balanced sense of real life and use social media to lift ourselves and others up? Here are 5 tips to help you out.
Social media really hasn’t been around that long- and we were all just fine without it. There has always been messaging that has left us feeling like we are not enough- TV, movies, fashion magazines to name a few, but none of these formats have been quite as pervasive as social media. Having these apps on your phone delivers 24 hour access to feelings of insecurity. You may need to take a break- a digital detox can provide you with the time to refocus on where your true values lie and allows you the time to clear your head. When you do return to social media you can do it with a more positive and healthy intention.
Begin to fill your feed with uplifting accounts that leave you feeling inspired or informed on issues that matter to you. Lose those celebrities and acquaintances whose posts are mostly superficial or leave you feeling like you’re “missing out.” Just like our bodies our mental health depends on what we’re feeding ourselves.
Remember Facebook was created with the mission to connect people, and originally it did a pretty good job of that. But over time it seems genuine connection has been dwindling. Instead of conversations we see our feeds flooded with alot of memes, viral content, ads, and only quick snippets of people’s lives. Nothing beats real live interaction but when that’s not possible use social media to reach out to a friend you haven’t talked to in a while or share about what’s really going on in your life with your followers. That doesn’t mean using your platform to vent, but talking about real issues or telling a funny story is a great way to connect. Be mindful not to leave negative comments, or post personal drama. If you want social media to become a positive part of your life you need to lead by example, what you put out into the universe will ultimately come back to you.
Someone living their lives “perfectly” whether real or staged doesn’t take away from you and the way you live your life. Let yourself be inspired by someone’s fitness transformation, or photos of exotic locales- instead of feeling envy. Know that anything in life you want can be yours if you truly desire it and put into action the steps it takes to achieve your goals. When you have the self belief that you are enough as is and you have the capability to achieve anything than you will be less likely to suffer from feelings of insecurity when you see others living their best lives- curated or not.
In life all we can control are our own thoughts and our own actions. Use your accounts as an example of what you’d like to see. Try to keep your own feed balanced- there’s nothing wrong with posting a bikini pic you’re proud of but be honest about the struggles in your life as well- real life is a roller coaster filled with highs and lows, people connect with and take inspiration from those who share their journey honestly.