I don’t typically write posts like I’m about to on here, but today’s got me feelin some typa way. I actually feel this way often: I’m stuck in a love hate relationship with social media. I consider the views I’m about to express related to personal growth and being conscious in general, so I’m deeming it appropriate buddha and bananas content.
Let me start off by saying I do love social media and the opportunities it brings us. Especially as a blogger (and research nerd), having a community of people to learn from and share with is amazing. It has profoundly changed my life in many ways. We are now connected like we never have been before, and we’ve all been given a platform to share and create in our own way. Without the internet or social media, I wouldn’t be exposed to so many things I’m interested in. And I wouldn’t’ be here sharing with you. So I do have a soft spot in my heart and acknowledge the benefits it brings to my life.
That being said, about once a week I want to throw my phone out the window. Or into the ocean. Or run it over with my car. (Drama much?)
The social media platform has created a warped sense of reality amongst its users. We are constantly judging, comparing, competing and stalking each other. While it can be motivating and uplifting to learn about the lives of other people, often times it is straight up exhausting. We are living in a generation that places more value on the number of times a thumb has double tapped a phone screen than the content of a person’s character, talents or authenticity. I often times find myself caught in this illusion that to become a better writer, I have to have a larger social media following. While it is true that social media is an amazing platform to engage with your desired audience, numbers are just numbers. The number of your followers or “number of likes” doesn’t always equate to the quality of the creative work you put out nor who you are as a person. Recognizing this, I decided to let go of trying to get ahead in this race, and instead focus my energy on working hard, being creative and defining the messages I’m trying to convey. The problem is the value society places on these otherwise meaningless numbers. There are many profiles I stumble upon on Instagram, people with hundreds of thousands of followers, who I immediately assume must have produced something of value and significance. I mean all these people follow them, they must be talented, right? Not quite. I’ll often learn that they’ve accomplished nothing more than mainstream popularity and an illusion of worth. We are starting to measure success in digital numbers instead of output, action or results. I place value in the quality of my following over the quantity. I’m more interested in having 10 followers who deeply appreciate my blog posts than 1,000 that don’t even read them. Luckily as a blogger, the proof is in the pudding. Meaning, number of blog views take precedent over social profile followings. But other users trying to use social media to their advantage may have to compete and play the game in order to stay relevant on people’s feeds, with the hope of eventually getting opportunities to do the work they want.
Aside from my perspective as someone with a social media based venture, it has gotten ridiculous for the masses in general. We’re teaching a younger generation that who they are in the flesh is secondhand to what they portray digitally. If you didn’t Instagram it, did it even happen? *eye roll* We care more about what it looks like we’re doing than what we’re actually doing. I have a suggestion for us: Get A Life.
As far as “success” goes, titles that used to take years of blood, sweat and tears to attain have become meaningless. Now all it takes is a few taps of a finger and a profile update to pretend you’re something you’re not. We live in a world where if you have an iPhone, you call yourself a photographer. You have an idea, you call yourself an entrepreneur. You have a GoPro, you’re a director. It’s great that we can all share our interests, but let’s respect those that took the time and effort to earn those titles. Don’t confuse a hobby with a profession, and put in the work before you seek the praise. It reminds me of a quote I wanted to keep as a reminder when I first started blogging: Everyone wants to be a bestseller, but no one wants to write a best-selling book. Let that one sink in.
Our desperate need to create an image instead of a life has left us forgetting what hard work or authenticity is. We are so used to instant gratification. Instant success. Instant transformation. There is almost no depth in what we do anymore. Just a surface level portrait of our invented success and simulated lives.
The need for digital acceptance is everywhere. People actually pay for followers to give off the impression they earned a following, and people have businesses based off helping people do so. I am constantly seeing ads on how to increase your following, how to grow your Instagram, how to use the right hashtags, captions, and filters etc etc etc. Can we calm down please? Social media is a medium, not a message. Who gives a fuck if a bunch of people you don’t know “follow” you while you do nothing? It is such a strange concept that has become so normal. I wonder if this way a being is actually fulfilling… I can’t imagine so.
We are all naturally such creative beings, with a world of potential. But it’s as if social media has thrown the essence of living away. Why do we avoid earning success and instead take short cuts? Why do we place value on the most superficial terms? Why are we scared to be ourselves? And most importantly, why do we collectively buy into all of this bullshit? I have an answer to my own question. We don’t all buy into it. And if you do, you’re part of the problem. Like all things in life, it’s about personal responsibility. If you believe you must keep up with the social media trends to be cool and haven’t learned how to think for yourself, it’s time to gain a new perspective. If you pretend you’ve achieved more than you have, it will eventually show. Social media is fun and useful, but have awareness around what it’s doing on a broader level. Ultimately, it’s up to us to not be dumbasses and buy into all of this. I know most of you reading this are cooler than that. And if you’re not, here’s your reminder to be. Let’s all take social media for what it’s worth and step back from this digital circus once in a while. Your existence outside of your phone should be more powerful than what’s portrayed behind the screen. Remember to live.
Promise I’ll be nicer and less whiny next time. 🙂
Hugs and Love,