As someone who spends a lot and I mean A LOT of time on social media for personal and professional reasons, I feel like I’ve finally developed a thick enough ‘internet skin’. It is not easy to stare at the lives of other people all day and not get jealous or fed up or compare yourself to what other people are doing and end up feeling low, miserable and a bit put out by your own lifestyle.
Social media makes people copy other people. For all of the wonderful things it does, for all the brilliant online communities that I admire and advocate, for all the laughs, the chat, the education and the business opportunities it creates, there’s undoubtedly something of a sinister air about the triple-filtered, very perfect life image it feeds us all day long. Yet we eat it up, and we go back and refresh, refresh, refresh. So we have to make an effort to not get dragged down, which has happened to me plenty of times.
I got so caught up in wanting to do a tick-box exercise against my life last year that I forgot to do things I actually wanted. Creating a barrier against that has stopped me from wanting and ultimately trying to copy other people who actually don’t live a life I want. I want my own life to be the life I want. By trying very hard to stop copying lives I see online I’ve…
1) Not purchased a house I didn’t want.
Quite a big one. Quite massive one. Quite a hugely lucky escape. I still get anxious and feel weird when I think about the fact I nearly moved away and bought this home that I thought fit the bill of what other people were doing, rather than because I wanted to. Realising in enough time and some quite fateful survey issues stopped something I know I would have resented and regretted enormously from happening and I am so thankful. You don’t spend a year saving and scraping by to end up unhappy with the result.
2) Learnt to live with bad health days.
Not always appearing a highly functioning and cheerful person to the rest of the world every single day is fine. It’s completely fine, and for someone like me who suffers health issues and sometimes (luckily not that often anymore – long may it continue) needs to just take time to recover and face them and become introverted or quiet, it’s very important. Not having something glossy to show off on a daily basis is as normal as normal can be.
3) Pursued passions that don’t appeal to the masses.
I like helping people, I like learning about the environment, I like forensics documentaries, I like reading about how oppressed people around the world find a voice and run with it, I like painting plant pots and I like not ever plucking my eyebrows. Okay, the eyebrow thing is not exactly a passion, but you get my point.
4) Stopped trying to save failing relationships.
It doesn’t matter what people you don’t know think about your friend count, your networking abilities or your contacts.
5) Stopped caring that some people might not think my idea of social media is good enough.
I work on social media, I studied it at uni, I really like it and I make money from knowing a lot about it. Despite all of this, I can’t and probably won’t shake the concerns I and many others have about aspects of it, and for a while I stopped using it in the way I wanted for fear of judgement. If I want to talk about movements across the world that other people think are boring or don’t get excited by, I should feel free to. If I want to post a photo on Instagram of a nice looking salad I made, I will. If I want to tweet something mundane that cheered me up, I can. If I want to go on and on about a piece of clever marketing I loved I should just do it, even if it isn’t as cool as a holiday to Italy. Enjoying social media as just a place to be happy and indulge your passions isn’t a crime – it’s surely a massive part of why it exists?
6) Stopped looking for other people’s approval.
Not fully, because hello I’m human, but enough to go entire days without even opening Twitter or caring that my blog stats are low for a fourth day running.
7) Avoided a lot of fear about not having achieved enough for my age
When there a children coding websites, teens carving out businesses online and influencers releasing books left right and centre it’s hard to not feel like you’re not making the mark. Note to self (and to anyone else) – there is no mark unless you impose one.