Every morning, before I get ready, I check my notifications. I scroll through Instagram to update myself on my friends’ lives- or the lives they are portraying. ‘I wish I could look like her.’ ‘He has so many friends!’ ‘I wish my holidays were as fun as her’s.’ These thoughts ring through my brain, haunting me. I forget I am comparing other people’s highlight reel to my day-to-day life.
An interesting change in behaviour I have noticed in my friends is how people ‘do it for the ‘gram’ or live by ‘pics or it didn’t happen’. I often hear my friends saying, ‘we need to get a few pictures to post before we leave.’ Then, it usually turns into a photo-shoot. It seems as though it is more about proving you have friends than having fun with each other. More and more these days, when I hang out with my friends, half of the time is spent with people scrolling through Instagram and sending streaks on SnapChat. In my experience, most of the time, my favourite memories with my friends are when no one is on their phones. When we are just enjoying each other’s company and making real-life memories. Additionally, during the holidays I have noticed more and more people insisting on getting photos every second of the trip. I myself am guilty of doing this in order to get the perfect pictures for Instagram. Sometimes, I want everyone to put down their phones and just enjoy the moment. However, this is far easier said than done, as the ideology of ‘pics or it didn’t happen’ is drilled into our brains. I find myself struggling to fully live in the moment and absorb everything without taking pictures. At concerts, it is rare to see anyone who does not take their phone out to record. For me, it is much easier to put my phone down at a concert, as I love music and feel it is important to respect the artist’s time.
I have asked myself why I find it difficult to let go of my phone and live without letting other people know what I am doing, and I feel part of it is due to insecurity. I find myself trying to present my digital life as a better, happier version of my real-life- almost as though I am trying to cover up my unsatisfaction. Maybe if I am happy online, I can be happy in real life. Why do the likes and comments I receive validate me? I feel so empty, but this makes me temporarily happy. These comments and likes make it seem like people actually care… but will they be there for me? It frustrates me that this makes me happy. Why does it make me feel valued when ‘popular people’ or people with a big following like and follow me. I should be able to see my own worth, but I am clinging onto other people’s perceptions of me. People who don’t know the real me. When the euphoria and thrill of a rising number of likes fade away, you are stuck with the emptiness you were trying to fill in the first place. Like putting a band-aid on an open wound that needs stitches, it helps for a while, but in order to fix the issue, something greater is required. Even though social media is such a huge part of our lives now, I believe it is very important to disconnect.
While these thoughts and feelings weigh down on me, I see there are countless positives to social media. For me, the main advantage it makes it much easier for me to stay in contact with the friends I have all over the world. Furthermore, it allows you to connect with people all over the world. I cannot say whether social media is good or bad, but I am happy to share my experience, and the experiences of other teenagers I know.
Every night, before I go to sleep, I check my notifications. I scroll through Instagram to update myself on my friends’ lives- or the lives they are sharing. ‘She looks so beautiful.’ ‘He looks so happy!’ ‘Her holidays look so cool.’ I feel so lucky that I live in a time where I am able to see how my friends are doing no matter how many miles apart we are.