The increasing impact of social media is something i’ve been wanting to talk about for a while now but I put it off not wanting to sound overly negative about social media platforms and the influence they can have on our lives.
There are some completely unique and amazing opportunities to be found from using social media, as well as endless positive advantages and influences on our lives but at the same time, there has been A LOT of noise about the negative impacts some of these platforms can have – even the accusation that there is now a mental health disorder, derived specifically from an obsession of using social media.
I think to truly get to the essence of what I mean, the best place to start would be at the beginning, well so far as I can remember. So social media for me started off in the days of Bebo (yes, i’m that old) and MySpace. The good old days when you would have a ‘top friends’ list that changed every week or a background song on your MySpace profile that you would take HOURS to choose, deliberating about what vibe you wanted your profile to have.
From here came the launch of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram and the increased influence that these channels now have on our lives.
If we contrast the platforms against one another there are many similarities to be made, for example, you always wanted to have the highest number of friends on your Bebo profile, which could be likened to Twitter or Facebook now. Looking for likes or re-blogs on Tumblr is again comparable to likes and comments on Instagram. There has always been that desire for others to ‘like’ our content, to ‘like’ our lives and to ‘like’ who we are as people – it’s a part of human nature – but sadly, now more than ever this is becoming completely defined by friends and followers on social media.
Don’t get me wrong, I love social media, especially Instagram as i’m such a visual person and I love to see beautiful photographs whether completely natural and un-filtered, or 100% curated and edited for a magazine or brand promotion – I admire it all and I love the fact that without such platforms many people wouldn’t be able to share these aspects of their lives or their amazing skills. However, it can sometimes become such a dream world that we do forget that everything isn’t real life or more importantly, that the majority of insight people share is from the highlight reel of their lives.
Yes, these platforms that we use have become huge arenas for marketing and for the promotion of products and brands (and rightly so) but they are still, for a lot of people an escape, a place to live a different life outside of reality or a place to illuminate the most favourite part of their day and save a memory to look back on during sadder moments.
I think it’s important to keep social media as positive as we can and to promote the sharing of happy times and great experiences with each other, but it’s equally important to remember that everyone will have their ups and downs and if you didn’t have a weekend full of avocado toast, iced latte’s and walks in the park or you don’t go on a £500 shopping spree every week then it’s not abnormal and most importantly it’s ok. It’s ok to have a week where you do absolutely nothing exciting and basically go to work and come home again, then spend your weekend on the sofa.
I’m still torn on whether I think we should share some more ‘real life’ situations on social media but let’s face it, when i’ve had a bad day and all I crave is comfort food and my pj’s – will a photo of my plain old cheese and beans on toast be insta-worthy? Doubtful. Does everyone need to know when i’ve spent the night in A&E with family or see my washing pile on a Saturday morning? Do I even want to share these parts of my life with everyone? Probably not.
BUT, would a bit of a reality check would keep us all a lot more sane? Most definitely. As you can see the jury’s still out on this one so let me know what your opinions are.
I think that in this day and age, there should probably be a disclaimer before using any social media channels. If there was, for me if would include (but definitely would not be limited to) the following, which i’m 100% going to remind myself of more often;
“Don’t do it for the likes, do it for you”
“Remember, not everything you see is golden”
Let me know what your opinions on the influence of social media are and what your disclaimer for using these platforms would be.