These days we are so concerned about putting ourselves out there to the world rather than examining ourselves and reality. It is very hard to imagine life without the use of social media apps and sites for the majority of us, social media has taken over our lives. Social interactions face-to-face are now so limited because our friends are too busy on Snapchat, Facebook or Instagram.
I have noticed a lot recently that when I open Instagram, I am bombarded with pictures and videos of a somewhat “perfect” lifestyle of people. There is a trend of men with biceps, abs, designer gear and posts of expensive cars. There are women with perfect skin, perfect hair and bodies in stunning clothes in amazing places. But how much of that is real?
This is not to say that what is shown on Snapchat, Facebook or Instagram is not real and it does not mean people are lying specifically or that they’re not beautiful. However, people are extremely concerned about how they are portrayed by others. For some, it is an obsession as they will go to a great deal of effort in order to post something that they believe is worthy.
What you see on social media is not always real or the truth as confessed by Essena O’Neill, an Australian teenager who made the headlines last year after uploading a YouTube video on why she was quitting social media. Essena O’Neill is one of the very few people or Instagram models who talked about the impact of social media, particularly Instagram.
“I was consumed by it. This was the reason why I quit social media: for me, personally, it consumed me. I wasn’t living in a 3D world.”
As seen by Essena’s post, what you see is not exactly real as the majority of what we see on social media is edited. It is important to remind ourselves that what is real (bad skin, small lips, unaligned teeth and dark circles) is still there, but because of insecurities some may have over how they present themselves on social media, people will smooth this all over with apps and filters. People are replacing their real self with the persona of their ideal self on their social media profiles, which is heavily influenced by the media and society.
We are aware that celebrity’s images are photo shopped and airbrushed, but they also do edit their social media posts. The picture below of Cameron Diaz on the left which is airbrushed and edited will be proudly published everywhere. However, how often do we see the reality? The picture on the right is what is real and what most of us can relate to.
There are plenty of memes that are constantly posted on Instagram and Facebook labelled as Instagram Vs real-life. Yet these very people who make these memes out of humour also do use filters and apps on their own social media accounts. There is nothing wrong with using filters or apps if it makes you feel better, but we should also not let this become our reality and be honest about it. Why should we feel the need to be like everybody else on social media and walk around looking the same? Who is to say that bad skin or dark circles or unaligned teeth are not beautiful?
I have used the above pictures just to show the difference as a reminder that we should not let the “perfect” images of beautiful people and their bodies distort our own sense of reality and how we perceive ourselves. Our image should not be based on our looks alone, there is more to us than just looking good, eating in nice restaurants and showing the world that we work out. If you let these insecurities in, they will cripple and inhibit you. Either you become a person whose insecurities of social media define you or you wouldn’t.
There will be people on social media who will constantly and specifically tag or check into fabulous restaurants and hotels and post what they are wearing just to seek validation from others. We are so glued to our social media apps that we are not living in the moment, the present. People are more focused on checking in on Facebook, Instagram and snap chatting where they are rather than being where they are.
Social media has distorted the perception of beauty, especially the beauty of women, so much that they are now plenty of memes body shaming women who do not meet society’s standards of beauty. Would this really happen if the media was not creating an image of what is attractive and what is not attractive?
It would be a lot better if we could focus on our physical appearance as a reflection of who we are on the inside, rather than focusing on our physical appearance as a way of meeting some standards that exist in the society. Social media is encouraging people to be materialistic and superficial. You should be your real self rather than the ideal self and not tie your self-worth to what you look like rather than who you are. In the end no matter how good you look, people will always have their own perceptions and definitions of what beauty is. If you are a beautiful person inside, trying hard to be the best person you can be then you are a soul and that is beautiful. We are not meant to be perfect, and people who seek to be will learn eventually that they are not.