Hey! Good people of the internet! Want to hear a secret?
I hate social media.
There, I said it. I feel so much better now.
Seriously, though: how much worse have all our lives gotten since the norm became documenting our every waking everything and then sharing with the rest of the world? How easy has it become to compare ourselves to everyone else, to measure our own perceived successes against the yardstick of other peoples’ shiniest moments? And how many hours have been swallowed, as we sit bathed by the light of our phones?
The (negative) effects of social media are well documented. I’m not an expert on either social media or self-esteem, though I’ve dedicated a decent amount of brainpower to both. But just for fun, I’m going to shimmy out on a limb here and suggest that while sensory overload is challenging for all of us, it might be a little less fun for the ladies.
The world has long hurled a lot of mixed messages at women. You know the ones. They tell you to stay home while telling you to lean in. They talk about choices while simultaneously judging you for the ones you’ve made. They lump words like feminism, strong, sexy, powerful, farm-raised, locally sourced, gluten-free and Beyoncé in the same terrifying sentence and then expect you to decode it without somehow becoming insane.
Enter social media. An uncharted universe where comparing yourself to friends, strangers, and supermodels has never been easier. The “popular” page on Instagram looks a lot like an advertisement for a boob farm or a naked yoga retreat, which are two places I’d rather not visit today. Thank goodness there are usually some puppies thrown in there.
I’ll admit, though, sometimes it’s hard not to just post a boob and see what happens. It seems like a valid social experiment. Does exploitation equal popularity? Does popularity equal power? I never follow through with it because, you know, dignity. But still, I wonder.
Social media can sometimes feel a wee bit like getting ambushed. This is what my Instagram feed looks like on a regular basis:
Please note that all of these images appeared within a three day span. I promise you that constant exposure to other peoples’ large diamonds on the cusp of my thirtieth birthday does not make me fun to live with.
So what’s a gal to do?
Let’s say the answer was as simple as non-participation. Let’s say I simply deleted all my social accounts. Would that solve the problem?
No. Because I’d still need email. And even my Google ads are sexist and mean.
My Google ads are like the algorithmic equivalent of an evil high school boy who knows to poke you right where it hurts. (I’m talking to you, Matthew-who-told-me-I-had-a-mustache.) Recent examples include “Vintage engagement rings!” “Ultimate bachelorette party!” and my personal favorite “Plastic surgery! 30% off liposuction!” They taunt me from my sidebar, despite the fact that I have not recently (or ever) trolled the internet in search of engagement rings, questionable entertainment, or a revamped midsection.
There’s a quote that’s been haunting me lately: “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.” I want to have deeper discussions and foster more inspiration, and I can’t help but feel like social media makes this harder. It can be uninspiring, and encourages even more of the mindless chatter I’d like to cut back on.
Maybe my scones will never look as nice as your scones, food stylist I follow. Maybe I will never do a naked backbend on a large seaside rock, like you can, popular yogi. Maybe I still get excited when I get more than 11 “likes” on any one photo. Maybe this does not make me a bad person.
The thing is, I’m content with all the beautiful moments that happen behind closed doors. I don’t want to feel like the proverbial tree in the forest, falling over and over but never making a sound. If no one sees photographic evidence of my good day, did I still have a good day? Yes. Maybe an even better day, uninterrrupted by the endless flow of images, pithy captions and self-imposed judgments.
Am I alone in feeling this way? Would love to hear your thoughts.
P.S. Follow me on Instagram! Kidding. Sort of.