I would really love someone to stand over me and snatch my phone out of my hands when I’ve had enough of the internet. This person or creature would need to be able to pick up on my sudden change of mood and be able to remove my phone or chuck my laptop out of the nearest window before I sink too far into the ‘why isn’t that my life?’ depression. If you fancy the job please submit your CV, I make a really good cup of tea.
It’s been written about to death, but the levels to which the internet affects happiness and perspective on young people right now is obviously still high. I see stuff about it every day. I am one of those people, despite how much I try to disregard the filtered view of others I get from scrolling social media and reading blogs, who still feel like they’re missing the mark.
When you’re scrolling through posts there’s always someone out there having a better day than you, having a nicer weekend than you, eating better food than you, forever buying new clothes, forever travelling to beautiful places and in the end, you just want to be someone who isn’t you. I don’t feel like this very often, but I know I spend way more time than is healthy glued to my phone and on social media. The other day I was sprawled on my bed in the evening feeling frustrated and angry at my body for making me unable to exercise due to a flare up of EDS and it took three things to turn my mood from annoyed to fully vile.
I saw a photo of someone on my Instagram feed in gym clothes looking pretty perfectly toned and posting about training for winter runs, I then got an advert targeted at me on Facebook for homeware I could never afford after snappily swapping apps. Then to finish me off I went into my emails and saw I had been invited to yet another PR event that I wouldn’t be able attend because it’s in the day and I have a job.
These three things, separately, don’t really mean anything. This person looking good on Instagram would not get a second thought from me 99.9% of the time. The most likely outcome usually would be me looking for where they got their leggings because they’re always so nice. On that evening though, it just amplified my ‘I can’t exercise and I’ve been comfort eating crap all day so I’m just going to get fatter and fatter’ mood even more. I just felt worse about myself and angrier at my health for looking at one photo.
The advert for homeware appeared because of the stuff I’ve been looking at for Christmas presents. Cookies and data collecting and all that stuff the internet does to advertise things to you came together to make me feel worse about money and worse about not being able to buy things for myself- this shouldn’t matter. I’m not a materialistic person. I don’t go shopping much. I don’t have online baskets full of stuff waiting for payday. I just suddenly felt inadequate and left out and behind from an advert telling me I need a marble crockery set.
The event thing is perhaps the most stupid. This happens fairly often to me and I usually just politely decline and don’t dwell. I have a job that I like and I’m happy in. I can’t go out in the middle of the day to meet PRs and have tea with people. I know that, yet that evening I was suddenly of the opinion that it was unfair, stupid and I shouldn’t have to pick between the two. Hello first world problems brat, how are you?
I don’t like the version of myself I feel when I overdose on the internet. Social media isn’t the place to be when you’re feeling down- not for me anyway. Sometimes it can lift me up- a lot of the time I consume it thankfully and I contribute. I post and tweet and will carry on doing so- I tried the whole digital detox thing and I hated it. When I’m feeling bad about myself, most of the time a jaunt on social media ends in a downward spiral of asking why I don’t look better, why my house doesn’t look as good as those I see splashed on online, why I don’t have more money and why I can’t afford six holidays a year.
It’s not pretty to fall down the black hole of the scroll and I really hope that as time goes on, young people get better at separating reality and filtered lives. I don’t know how that can happen but it’s definitely what I want for when I have children who despite my best efforts will most likely be scrolling themselves before I know it.