Hey Beantiks it’s Caitlin 🙂
Social media has the bad boy reputation of the internet world. These sites have long been linked with increases of depression, anxiety, bullying, and body image issues. All repercussions I am vocally completely AGAINST- but I love social media. This seems to contradict my strong stances on the importance of mental health and self-confidence. I really believe that everybody and every body is beautiful. We each have qualities that make us unique individuals, both internally and externally, that we should be confident in. Social media is not innately negative. There is no dislike button on Instagram. We have decided to pull out negativities from social media instead of exposing the unique qualities that make social media beautiful too. Social media isn’t a bad boy, its just misunderstood because we have decided to misuse it.
On May 25th Time released an article entitled “Why Instagram is the Worst Social Media for Mental Health,” pulling their facts from a survey study called #StatusOfMind. The survey published by the United Kingdom’s Royal Society for Public Health looked at social media users 14-24 throughout the UK and asked how social media impacted 14 issues involving mental health. It was discovered that sleep quality, bullying, body image, FOMO (fear of missing out), and both anxiety and depression were all highly correlated with social media usage and especially Instagram. These are all possible effects of social media I can’t deny . When you place a picture on a platform you are inviting people to pass judgments on the content. I’ve partaken in gossip about the pictures people choose to post. I’ve seen a lot of girls my age enhance their curves, shrink stomachs, and hide imperfections using applications like facetune. I’ve debated doing it as well, due to intimidation produced by the Victoria Secret Angels that cover my Instagram feed. I have also definitely felt FOMO because of Instagram. Whether that be because I could not afford the luxury vacations classmates were on, or because I wasn’t at that week’s event of a lifetime (ha). Social media does in fact have its negatives. But it is not the platform that is doing all this, its my preconceived notions, my insecurities, and my jealousy.
I believe intentions are everything. If we intend and expect for social media to be a place of shallow comparisons, then that is what it is. The #StatusofMind study also found that social media POSITIVELY impacts self-identity, self-expression, community building, and emotional support – yet that was not the title of the article put out by Time. Social media is not a negative place, but people have made it negative with negative intentions. It then is perpetuated by negative branding and our lack of willingness to take responsibility for our judgmental and comparative nature.
Another article I read this week, that was published in the The New York Times May 5th entitled “My So-Called Instagram Life” displayed another evil of the platform— or really it’s content creators. The author Clara Dollar describes how her social media branding began to effect her personality outside of the Instagram world. Clara branded herself to be “funny, carefree, unromantic, a realist,” a brand that did not reflect her true personality in full. She caged herself in with these words and made it impossible for love to enter her life- because love was not on brand. The article is a fascinating read, and good insight into another level of social medias effect on society. But it was not social media that created these split personalities- it was Clara. In any situation (virtual or reality) if you try to be something you are not you are going to fail.
I try to brand myself on Instagram, but not like Clara. I use Instagram to display my brand of Confidence through Clothing, something that truly reflects me as a person. I think branding on Instagram can be a positive thing but it goes back to the intentions you have. If you are creating a person who does not reflect your core then that’s going to cause more self-doubt. It has been proven by the #StatusofMind survey study that social media can help with self-identity and self-expression, people just have to be confident enough to show their true self first. I view social media like an outfit (SHOCKER). You get to chose how you want to be viewed by the people around you, and display the you that you are most confident in. If the brand you are creating on media sites reflects your personality then it is a great way to build self-confidence and express yourself in the form you find the most beautiful.
I have been trying to stick to a few rules to make my social media and especially Instagram a more positive place.
- I post things I will want my children to see– Instagram is like a cool photo album we are currently building for our later generations. I try to post pictures that they would be proud of- whether that means toning down the sex appeal, or posting a positive caption. No generation has been given the ability to have so much permanence associated with their legacy. We use this as a negative when speaking about posting pictures of illegal activities, or things that we will regret but it can be SOOOO POSITIVE in building legacies that we can be proud of.
- I post pictures that matter- If I look the most amazing I have ever looked in a picture but people I do not care about are in it, then I won’t post it. I try to post pictures with the people and places that matter to me. I think about my legacy again and things I want to be associated with now and in the future.
- I post like a badass- I don’t care how many times a day I post, or how many likes I get. My concern when I post a picture is if I feel beautiful. I am showing the way I want people to view me regardless of all the “Instagram rules”. Instagram should be a platform where you show pictures you are proud of regardless of the feedback received.
- I try to be positive to others– I try to like and comment on as many pictures as I can. Even if I don’t love the picture or wouldn’t post it myself, I respect the way other people want to be viewed. I remember a time in high school I didn’t post social media content for months because of fear that I wouldn’t get positive feedback. That is such a sad and unnecessary side effect of social media. Let’s build up each others self-identity and self-expression versus gossiping about it and tearing people down.
- I try to stay true to myself- I have a strict rule that I do not edit any part of my body in a picture. I got facetune once to whiten my teeth and it is so easy to get hooked on “fixing” what is in a photo. I have deleted editing apps on my phone since that realization, besides VSCO and have proudly never posted a picture where I have edited my appearance. Compliments on a faked picture mean nothing, and will only make you feel worse about yourself while perpetuating body expectations that are simply out of reach. Present the real you to the world without apologies, because everybody and every body is beautiful.
Social media has a bad rap, but it is not the platform that drives the negativity. Our generation of content creators have to take responsibility for what we put into cyberspace. We are choosing to feed into the negative connotations associated with social media when we could be making it a positive and beautiful platform for personal expression. Remember how nervous you were posting your last picture before critiquing someone else’s. Think about how you want future generations to view your online legacy before you put up your next post. Lastly, remain your true self, but present it in the way that makes you feel like the most beautiful version of you.
Pce, love, and something to think about!