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Life

Social media on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?

Jason Howie

Everyone’s a celebrity nowadays.

It seems as though half the people on Instagram have at least 15K followers. And what’s interesting to me is, they mostly happen to be “fashionistas.”

All it takes is one photo that goes viral for you to become this social media goddess. People start to idolize you. You start having meet and greets— and for what? For posing with a pretty dress. I’m sorry, but that’s really all it is. And what message does this send out?

It says that as long as you’re “pretty” you can be influential. As long as you’re good with makeup and have nice clothes, you’re powerful and people want to be like you. As long as you have all of these likes, you will be successful in anything you do.

I remember meeting a woman who apparently had over 150K followers on Instagram for her makeup videos. I didn’t know that. She looked at me as if I stabbed a knife through her gut.

“You don’t know who I am?” she said sharply.

“No, sorry.” I said, trying to think of a way to sound less offending. “You do look kind of familiar, though.” I lied.

“I’m Instafamous…I’m sure you follow me.”

But I didn’t follow her. I don’t follow certain profiles for many reasons (but that’s for another rant). Besides, they end up on my “explore” page, whether I like it or not. One of the reasons I do this is to make a statement that I’m not with this omg-I-have-to-follow-her-and-like-every-thing-she-posts-I-wish-I-can-be-like-her idolizing.

You want people to admire you for what you do; not for the way you look. Your “fans” (though I prefer the term “supporters”), shouldn’t start screaming crazily when they see you; they should run to thank you for helping make a difference in their life. When you meet someone you’ve always wanted to meet, do you tell them, “Wow. I love your makeup?” or do you tell them, “Wow. You changed me.”?

Have a following for your mind; not for your body. Let people admire YOU; your skills, your talents; not for your appearance.

“Top most beautiful women on Instagram” are titles of articles I start seeing. Really? I don’t mean to say that these women aren’t beautiful, but is that all they are? (Unfortunately a lot of times, they allow themselves to be just that). But is that what everyone aspires to be? First, it was magazines and commercials that brainwashed our society into thinking what beauty meant and how we should acquire it. Now, in addition to that, we have social media— and due to its sole reliance on photographs, it’s mostly Instagram.

So as I scroll on my Instagram feed, picture after picture, I often come to a stop.

What am I doing? 

Why do my fingers automatically tap the Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter app before I go to bed, as if it were some sort of holy ritual? We’ve come to a point where we literally enjoy watching other people live their lives more than we actually enjoy living it ourselves. We’ve become obsessed. We are creating this celebrity culture and then complain, “What’s wrong with our society? Why does everyone want to dress/be like him/her?” 

If I find myself robotically scrolling on my news feed, on either Instagram or Facebook, I have to remind myself to stop. I don’t want to be used to this. I don’t want to wait for someone to post something interesting about them for me to feel like I quenched my curiosity. I hate the idea of (unconsciously) obsessing over other people’s lives; it makes me feel so vulnerable.

So to organize my thought-storm, as usual, I ranted via the way I know best— through pen and paper (or rather, mouse and keyboard).

MOST OF THE TIME, YOU’RE WASTING YOUR TIME

Why is it that we need someone to stalk? Why do we care about watching a 45 minute vlog about someone’s honeymoon? (Besides, last I remember, that’s supposed to be a private, intimate time but that’s also for another rant). Why do we need to watch her husband do her makeup with a blindfold on? I’m sorry to say this, but we genuinely are wasting our time. (Besides, he’s got the eyeliner all wrong).

When we don’t want to use our brains, we often look for things that don’t require much brain-work. We just want to switch it off, so we look for anything to just kill time.

We look for endless ways to waste time and then wonder why we don’t have time for anything.

Us humans, we like to know things. We’re nosy about knowing personal information about other people. We care in an overly-obsessive kind of way, which quite frankly, I find a little sad. We want to know how this certain celebrity goes about spending their day. We want to know where she shops, what she buys and what she carries around in her purse. (Omg, I have to get the same brand of tissues she carries around)

Creeping into people’s lives and letting them know that you are, giving them more motivation to let you creep, honestly shows how much you don’t have a life– and that’s a little sad.

So why accept that type of humiliation? Live your own life. Vlog if you want to. Don’t post it; just keep it to yourself. Treasure your own memories. At some point, you’ll find yourself sitting at dinner with a friend, talking about all the adventures you know happened to other people. So make your own adventures. Pick up a book. Learn something new. Write your own story. Yes, we should all get to know one another and read each other’s stories, but you cannot let dust collect on your empty-paged-book because you’re so busy reading about others; there needs to be a balance. Your story matters as much as anyone else’s.

YOU FELL FOR IT; YOU THINK THEIR LIFE IS COOLER

Yup, you fell for it. Don’t you feel a little silly? You think their life is perfect. How could it not be when they’ve got that many followers that adore them, right? Wrong.

Some people actually have hours-long photo shoots just so they have one nice picture to share on Instagram in hope of it going viral. A lot of times it’s such a fake portrayal. There was a video I recently watched of a model who decided to “quit social media” in which she confesses that she once posted a photo of going for a jog, and even after it rained and she cancelled the jog, she kept the post up so it looks like she did it anyway. Wow, she’s so fit and healthy, you’ll think.

I know of a couple who was actually preparing for a divorce after a major fight, yet the wife, still, shared constant pictures of their “happy family” with captions as if their life was flawless. Don’t be fooled. Don’t judge; just be critical. No one’s life is perfect— but no one is going to advertise that. They will let you know when things are going well; but they rarely let you know about the tough times, unless they’re asking for your prayers.

We assume this perfect profile, when in reality, it’s an imperfect portrayal.

People choose what to make you see on their social media. They’re their own gate-keeper. They censor each word– each post. It’s all superficial. They’re going to post smiles, not frowns. And most importantly, they’re often going to post successes, not failures.

YOU’RE GIVING YOUR UNCONSCIOUS SUPPORT

In a way, you are in control. And most of all, they’re going to post what they think YOU want to see/hear/read.  They’re not going to post something if it doesn’t get any likes. They’re not going to keep posting husband-sister-brother-mom-tags if no one watches them. You’re giving your unconscious support.

It’s a never-ending cycle. We cannot point fingers at those who are “Instafamous” or people who have a large following on social media and not look at the followers. We are the followers. We’re the reason it’s so successful.

Our support is the fuel that keeps this phenomenon going.

So is it wrong to follow someone? Absolutely not! We’re all in this together; we need to support each other. But we need to be sure we’re following them for a reason. Don’t just “like” them because everyone else does. Ask yourself why you’re following them. Am I following them because they have something meaningful to say? Do they make me want to become a better person? Do they remind me of what’s important? Or do I just follow them because I like their eye colour and shoes?

YOU’RE TEARING APART NOT ONLY YOUR’S, BUT OTHERS’ ESTEEM

It has such a profound impact on us. We are being affected without realizing. We, all of a sudden, want more things so we have everything they have, start to feel insecure about ourselves and start subconsciously judging everyone else . She’s not as pretty; her lips are too big; her eyes are too small; her nose is not centered. And that is not the way I want to think about anyone and I certainly don’t want anyone thinking that about me.

When you constantly look at these “made up” images , you’re not going to want to leave the house without at least a little bit of concealer; even if you don’t need it. You’re going to start asking people why they look “sick,” just because they don’t have the amount of makeup everyone on Instagram has.

Am I saying we should quit social media? No; social media has immense benefits and that’s not what this post is about. We should, however, quit obsessively stalking other people.

It’s obviously O.K. to have followers and to be followers. But it’s not O.K. to idolize someone just because they woke up one day and found their profile flooded with likes and comments.

FYI: If you had a lens that blurs out the background, your pictures would look that much cooler too. If you posed next to a tree with your outfit with some makeup and possibly a filter, and it gets picked up by an account with a large following, you could probably get that many likes too. But that’s not the point.

The issue is that we hand out fame based on beauty, and unfortunately, a lot of times it’s artificial. It’s the difficult truth no one likes to discuss. We cannot let social media define beauty. We cannot let Instagram decide who’s the fairest of them all.

 

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Discussion

4 thoughts on “Social media on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?

  1. This is so spot on. Love reading your work! Keep it up.

    Posted by Ben | December 9, 2015, 9:45 am
  2. absolutely true, I couldnt agree more :-)

    Posted by Bedeutungsgewebe | December 16, 2015, 3:36 am
  3. This is very very well said. Love it.

    Posted by Sama | January 5, 2016, 5:21 pm

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