Every morning, I open my phone up to an endless number of unicorn floats in glistening Hamptons pools, picture-perfect European vistas and pastas, and colorful drinks clinking together in front of city skylines. These intricate stories are paired with countless staged bikini pics on impeccable Instagram feeds. We live in a world where we constantly want people to know where we are, who we are with, and what we are doing. Yet we only show the best parts of our lives that we know will appeal to our followers.
Some aspects of social media are undoubtably positive for society. We can keep in touch with people from all over the world, find inspiration from famous athletes, actors, bloggers, and more, and have a platform to share our passions and interests. But lately, especially in the summertime, I have noticed so many negative elements of social media that can be detrimental to our self-image and mindset.
Many of us start our days by scrolling through our Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook feeds before we’ve even eaten breakfast, immediately filling our minds with the images of others. As the day goes on, we continue this mindless scrolling and double-tapping many more times. When you really think about it, we spend multiple hours a day focused on where other people are, who they are with, and what they are doing. Inevitably, this can cause us to constantly compare our lives to the internet versions of the lives of the people we follow. And who can blame us? When our feeds are filled with Gigi Hadid’s perfect bikini bod in the Mykonos and our sorority sisters’ luxurious vacations all around the world, it can be hard not to look at our own lives and feel somewhat discouraged. Every single time we refresh our phones, there is a new post that can induce these self-deprecating feelings. But it is so important to remember that anyone can plaster on a fake laughing face and a pair of trendy sunglasses to mask whatever inner struggles they are experiencing, which is why you should never use someone’s Instagram page as a way to evaluate yourself.
Even more harmful is the tendency for social media to pull us away from the present moment. We constantly have to “share” the moment with everyone we know. Every time I order an insta-worthy meal, see an artsy graphic wall, or feel cute enough for a selfie, I always have the urge to take my phone out and snap a pic. This is almost an ingrained habit in the millennial generation and, quite frankly, it makes me sad. Whenever I find myself trying to get the perfect lighting on a picture of the sunset, I look into my camera and realize that the picture I take could never compare to the beauty that I am seeing in front of me. So why can’t I just enjoy the moment and not share it with anyone but myself? This is a challenging question of our generation. I think we could all spend some time trying to understand that all of these pictures, these posts, these likes, are not what’s truly important in the grand scheme of things.
I’ve been the girl in the bikini pic, asking my mom to take 100 different angles just to get the perfect shot. I’ve been the girl tracking her likes, waiting to see who comments next on my photo. And I probably will be this girl many more times in my life. But, as I get older, I’m starting to realize that whenever I get caught up in these moments—these tiny, artificial boosts of approval—I’m not representing the person that I truly am or want to be. Our most genuinely happy memories are those not spent on or behind a phone, but those moments spent face-to-face with the people that we love.
Drake’s song “Emotionless” off of his new album Scorpion articulates this phenomenon beautifully. He says:
I know a girl whose one goal was to visit Rome
Then she finally got to Rome
And all she did was post pictures for people at home
‘Cause all that mattered was impressing everybody she’s known.
Unfortunately, this line accurately describes the actions of many people in our generation. Let’s face it: who doesn’t want to use the Rome geotag when they’re in Rome? People make each other envy their lives on social media every day, so when we get the chance to show off, we do the same thing. As we continue our journeys into adulthood surrounded by the intensely growing presence of social media, we have to remember that Instagram and Snapchat only represent a few minutes in somebody’s life. Rather than focusing on these few minutes, focus on the moment you are in and enjoy the beautiful world outside the one on your phone.
COVER PHOTO: Instagram