In this day and age (hey grandma), social media and online personalities are constantly coming under scrutiny for presenting a dangerous, unrealistic image to the entire world.
Instagram accounts of skinny girls with perfect hair and perfect eyes encapsulating everything we think we want to be – none of it’s real, and recently, more and more people are piping up looking to be given credit for announcing that oh my effing gee, they used a filter on their Instagram photos. Shock.
The internet is packed with ‘inspirational’ declarations from those coming clean about how their life isn’t as perfect as it seems on social media, how much they were paid to post something to their multitude of followers, and the plethora of deep seated problems behind each and every inch of that golden glowing skin that’s splashed across their Facebook page.
What I want to know is, why did we ever think any of the bullshit that we present to those who judge us ever was real?
Think about it.
Before social media, generation Z and the likes, loves, follows, OMGs and every other public reaction we’re now surrounded by, we were never honest about who we really are.
Take cars. One of the most expensive things most of us will ever buy in our lifetime, yet not a single penny of return on investment. Your white Mercedes plummets thousands of pounds/dollars/yen/monopoly money the second you drive it off the lot, so why do we buy them?
They are an expression of our wealth. And yes, nowadays we display that on social media.
So shoot us.
Before social media, we still would’ve told our friends about it incessantly, snapped pictures on our (albeit dodgy) camera phones or disposables, and showcased our gleaming beacon of glory and success in any way possible.
Because that’s how humans work.
Nobody buys an expensive car purely to get from A to B. We have an inherent need to evoke envy in others.
Hey, for all anyone knows you could’ve landed a killer job with a six figure salary and bought the car with your hard earned cash. You could also have scraped together a down payment and be paying the car off monthly and barely making rent.
If you’re in the latter boat, you’re hardly going to surrender the truth to the world and drive around in a clapped out blue Nova with three wheels just so you’re being honest with the world, are you?
Let’s look at birthday presents, just in case I’m losing you.
Sure, birthday hauls are hella annoying on social media. But we’ve always been doing it. Just because it’s not scrollable, doesn’t mean it never happened.
At school when your mates asked you what you got for your birthday, of course you’d lead with the sassy Miss Sixty jeans and Hooch hoodie, and not with the Blue Tac you needed for your room or the boring old socks from ya Nan.
We’ve always wanted people to think the best of who we are.
That pretty girl you see on the street. That guy who’s just purchased the cool TV. Those friends who go on three holidays a year. Social media or no social media, these things are the very best of who we are. We don’t stand in the street with a sandwich board on shamelessly declaring the bad things about ourselves.
“I ate three doughnuts not one”.
“I got dumped last night”.
“I’m a size 14, not a 12.”
“I’m broke. I’m barely making rent because I earn minimum wage.”
“I have anxiety.”
“I didn’t make many friends at Uni.”
“I miss my ex.”
We’ve always wanted the outside world to think the best of us. It’s how we’re programmed. There’s actually nothing wrong with wacking a bit of Rise or Amaro on our Instagram pics, upping the saturation on our selfies and waiting for the weather to be perfect before uploading that on-point holiday snap.
Really, how is that any different to getting our eyebrows done before a party, wearing makeup and omitting that rainy day from your account of your beach vacay?
Sure, some people on social media take things too far. Some people in real life take things too far, too.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, we need to stop blaming social media for demonstrating an unrealistic expectation of who we are.
It’s not social media’s fault. It’s our own. We were naïve to think the world was ever an honest, upfront place. All social media has done is magnify the audience for our rose tinted reflection of our actions.
The only thing unrealistic is expecting ourselves to be completely honest about who we are 100% of the time.
So let’s wake up. Stop dreaming of the ‘honest’ world before social media, because frankly, there never was one.