Social media and the affects it has on the way we look at our bodies and at ourselves in general is such a discussed topic, but one that although some progress is being made towards self-love and authenticity, it is a topic with possibly no correct solution or answer.
I joined both Instagram and Twitter as a teenage girl. Twitter I joined to connect with celebrities that usually were out of reach, so this was exciting. Instagram on the other hand was to share photos of what was going on in my life and to be able to see what was going on in others. I believe that when I began using Instagram, I was naïve to the effects it was going to have on not only my mental health but also on my friends. I didn’t think there was much wrong with being flooded with photos of women with perfect bodies, endorsing weight loss products. Photos of women with airbrushed skin and perfect hair advertising skin care and vitamins. Reflecting back on my time now I can see just how damaging these sort of posts were for a teenager to take in. Growing into my adult years I was finding my voice, searching for who I was online and trying to feel comfortable in my own skin. Years of scrolling through feeds of Instagram each day with photoshopped perfection had creeped into the back of my mind and planted itself there. A statement that resonates with this feeling is “Users find online environments potent sites for constructing and trying out versions of self” (Smith & Watson 2014, p.75). I always thought of myself as a very authentic person, I always tried to find courage to speak my mind and be honest about how I felt. I found this difficult to convey on Instagram. I felt pressured for my photos to be perfect. I wanted to share things I loved but I felt judged. I wanted to be beautiful and interesting like the posts that I seen every day. I knew there was an issue with this. I could feel that the fact I would spend time not being in a moment because I was worried about how a photo being taken would look. Or I would be running late because I was taking a selfie to post onto Instagram because that would make me feel attractive. I would discuss these sort of things with my friends. Query if they ever felt that all the photoshop and advertising was detrimental on our mental health. My friends would tell me how they would feel ugly going on Instagram, that they felt their bodies needed plastic surgery to look like the women they seen online. They would tell me how sometimes it causes them to have anxiety for days. We all knew Instagram was causing these feelings, but we would continue to use it. Continue to follow the people that made us feel less of ourselves. It was an addiction. One of many studies that have been completed showed that exposure to celebrity and peer images increased negative mood and body dissatisfaction (Brown, Tiggemann 2016, p 37-43). Recently I had decided that I had enough, I hated how I felt going onto Instagram. I hated feeling lost online and not being sure of who I am, and I deleted my account. I took a break for weeks to reset the way my mind thought about social media. I began using my Twitter account again. I made a conscious effort to tweet about things I enjoyed and wanted to share. I tweeted my opinion on matters happening in the world rather than worrying about liking someone’s photo. I started to reconnect with people in a more human way. I find that tweeting about such simple moments such as the ones below can connect you with others in such an authentic way.
I did return to Instagram recently after my short break. Going back onto this social media site I thought deeply about the way it had affected me and how I knew it affected others. I ensure that I make an effort to be, as I have in bio, fearlessly authentic.
I now ensure I unfollow any accounts that may have any effect on my mental health or that I believe are conveying a message that can be harmful to others as well. I try to consciously share real moments and images that make me happy and disregard the need to have likes to validate these images or myself. I feel better within myself doing this and I hope that I, along with others that believe in this message, social media can become more authentic, supportive and enjoyable for all people young and old to enjoy without feeling less of themselves. Lets use social media to build each other up!
Smith, S & Watson, J 2014, ‘Virtually Me: A Toolbox about Online Self Presentation,’ in Poletti, A and Rak, J (eds.) Identity Technologies: Constructing the Self Online, The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, pp.75.
Brown, Z & Tiggemann M, ‘Attractive celebrity and peer images on Instagram: Effect on women’s mood and body image’, Body Image, Vol.19, pp 37-43, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2016.08.007
Excellent — I think we pretty much agree. 🙂 The way I see it, pretty much the entire online universe = “social media” (even the way you define it)… you see, when we use a browser (or similar app), we navigate to online destinations (URLs — like lavitazoe.wordpress.com 😉 ) and the site “recognizes” that we have asked for information (and normally the site also delivers it — many newspapers in the USA now actually deliver responses that say “sorry, we’re not going to show people in Europe anything because due to GDPR, we won’t show you the news [what they’re actually saying thru the flowers is: we can’t spy on you in order to deliver tailored ads / news / whatever] ). LOL, I guess you weren’t expecting to have such a discussion, right? Well, in any case: most of the examples you mention are brand names (twitter was originally a word, IDK if they were able to turn it into a protected trademark or not; facebook used to be a slang term [for student directory] on college campuses, but that is almost definitely trademarked now). I refer to such sites as “retard media”, becuse they’re based on outdated media / technology. You might be able to find my definition of it if you search for it in conjunction with define or definition — you might have even more luck if you visit remediary.com and search there! Or, I could add a link here, if you want 😉
[2020-04-21 14:29 UTC]