I have lived my entire life on social media. I was on Facebook all day, every day to share what I was doing, where I was going, and to see what everyone else was doing. When Instagram came along I joined and tried to navigate through it all.
Eventually Facebook and Instagram became a place not to share family pictures, but to share staged and carefully curated photos of a perceived fabulous life. Colorful images of Disneyland and the beach and far away places began to fill my feed. Humble-brags became the norm and rose-gold-tinged scenes exclaiming a perfect existence and how happy one was were the only pictures I saw.
I also noticed these beautiful photos got hundreds of likes, sometimes thousands. I saw the follower counts grow as if to feed the monster social media was quickly becoming. I saw my followers on Instagram – which I hadn’t really worked on much – pale in comparison. I felt myself working toward a more beautiful online existence just to keep up.
On Facebook is was a little different but not much. I saw my friends who weren’t in the influencer lifestyle begin to post influencer-looking pictures. I began seeing the loss of “real” photos. And I followed suit.
I joined some engagement groups, I began following similar Instagram feeds, I mindlessly liked posts just to see if I could get some sort of engagement. I began taking hours to curate the perfect image, had a signature color to make my feed more appealing and tried to get others to follow me. I used bots to like posts. I didn’t even look at these posts and my profile was liking them on my behalf.
Through this I noticed that many MANY users would follow me and within a week unfollow, regardless of whether or not I followed them back. I noticed posts balloon in unnatural likes. I noticed a major case of FOMO (fear of missing out) in myself and others in the blogging/influencing industry. Why was so-and-so getting this campaign and I didn’t? How is this person constantly getting paid travel? WHY NOT ME?
What the hell happened to those unposed pictures of my friends’ kids or the family pet? What happened to authenticity? And yes, I know I have been as guilty as the next person – my feed was riddled with carefully edited images, photoshopped to remove eye bags or that stray hair, make myself look thinner or taller or younger, and a fake-as-hell smile acting like my life was aces.
It’s hard to get out of that state of mind. I chose to partially remove myself from the facade. I took Facebook off of my phone because I discovered when I was on it I was getting jealous of what others were doing. I stopped participating in engagement threads. I posted what I wanted, when I wanted. I liked and commented because I wanted to, not because I felt the pressure to do so.
I stopped caring about how many likes or comments I got. I stopped posting much at all. And do you know what happened?
I became happier. I spent less time online. When I was online I was meeting new friends who posted in their true form. I lost followers. I was okay with that. Some noticed I wasn’t on as much, but many didn’t seem to bat an eye. I was all moving too fast. Maybe it appeared that I wasn’t on as much because of personal issues, but I am betting lots didn’t even notice. And, again, I was okay with that.
While it’s difficult to look at a photo I post on social media without getting the itch to heavily edit, I have been working on trying my hardest to leave those wrinkles and that skin texture there. This photo would have gone through some serious facetuning a month ago…
Facebook recently announced they were planning on removing reaction counts from posts. While others in my industry began freaking out behind groups my reaction to this was “GOOD”. The average person doesn’t need them. Nobody really does.
Social media can be a toxic place to be if you allow it, but it can also be beautiful. You just need to stop worrying about everyone else.
I want to say that I am NOT pointing fingers at particular people or profiles. I have no intention of tell you, the reader, that what you are doing is wrong in any way. You do you and I will do me. All I am saying is that a curated life is wrong for me.