In the past decade, our presence on social media has now become more critical than ever. While it has some great benefits for our relationships there are also some negative aspects that can give our followers and even ourselves false hope. In the height of our digital lives, we seem to do everything online now, even finding love. With the rise of online dating apps, we find others by showing our best selves. People now even make a living showing others how to highlight their best selves on dating apps. While people have always presented their best selves on the first date, how has it become always acting like you are on your first date? Today’s social media feeds have made it seem like we must always be presenting our first-date self with everyone we know. If something we accomplished, created or even ate is not on our beautifully curated social media feed, did it even happen? This is the question we have been faced with lately, especially when these activities are positive or are appetizing photos for our feeds.
Social media has become a highlight reel in every aspect. We want to post only the great memories in our life. We post our new jobs, but never the twenty interviews we had to go on before that. We post a fun new trip being taken, never the financial burden it can have on us. From this, we can see how it can give others a false narrative of our lives. We are always seeing one side of someone else’s story. But, it can also make others think, should I be living this life? Am I jealous of them? These are questions that become more prevalent once a couple goes public on social media. When people used to get into relationships, the simple social media action would be updating your Facebook status to “In a relationship” (and before the Facebook era, you weren’t sending your relationship status via carrier pigeon!). This left a lot more privacy and security to the relationship. Now it has shifted to posting a picture or video of every date, every gift given and every new milestone. Sometimes the people looking in can feel like they are also a part of the relationship when there are constant updates about the new love story. These updates are so vivid today that it is almost like we must check in everyday to see what happens next. Is this how we view relationships today, like a perfect romantic comedy rather than real life?
We will never post a fight we had with our significant other. In relationships especially, there is a high standard for everything to be perfect. Is that because of societal norms never talking about or highlighting the bad side of relationships? This can be from the media growing up but now it has taken a turn to our social media being the highlight reel that can never be broken. In an article from the American Psychiatric Association which highlighted a national poll about social media’s influence on mental and emotional wellbeing they stated, two-thirds of adults (67%) agree social media usage is related to feelings of loneliness and social isolation. This further shows how misleading social media can be. We never see the true nature of anyone’s life, even their relationships. We continue to assume everyone in a relationship is happy and great, but sometimes even people feel lonely while being in a relationship.
Seeing the “perfect” relationships on social media can be negative for everyone involved. We can’t tell people what to post and we can’t be upset when they do post a perfectly curated moment with their significant other. We need to remind ourselves that we must take everything on social media with a grain of salt. We need to remind ourselves when we are scrolling through our feeds during the day that we are not seeing the full story of anyone’s life and how their relationship is really going. Social media can become very overwhelming very fast so we must remember not to believe everything we see. Real life cannot be curated.
Here are three ways you to detox from the social media fantasy:
- Set Timers: Using a time limit on your social media apps helps you realize you have been scrolling too long. You can set up a specific time you want to be on a certain app for the day. Doing this helps you not get into the habit of endlessing scrolling and finding photos of your friends past three relationships.
- Curate Inspiration and Passion: Following all your friends and family is great so you can keep in touch, but make sure you follow some accounts that you personally enjoy. Following different accounts can help break up what is going on in your real life. Doing this can also help you learn more about what you are passionate about. Curating your explore page on Instagram can act like a vision board of sorts (we may be biased but we like @revivecfw for all health and wellness inspiration!).
- Don’t be afraid to unfollow: Still following that person from high school that you haven’t spoken to since junior year chemistry? These are some of the people that might be creating the social media fantasy for you. If you realize they are the ones you are starting to feel jealous of, it might be time to unfollow (or mute them if unfollowing feels too permanent).
Make social media more fun and relaxing than anxiety inducing. Isn’t that why it was created? Try some of these tips above and let us know which one helped curate your perfect social media life.