Or is it?
A picture posted on social media can change the course of your life.
Reaction 1 : “Woah Joanne that looks amazing! I’m definitely catching the next plane out to China!” *books plane ticket to leave next week, meets girl/guy on their travels, spend rest of life together*
Reaction 2: fuck my life, Joanne’s out there travelling the world living the dream, I’m stuck here with my psycho boss at 7pm pressuring me for this report. *quit’s job next week, realises it’s a massive mistake, too late… *
Reaction 1: Great times, need to get the crew together soon! *organises meetup with close friends solidying friendships for life*
Reaction 2: I thought I was good friends with John and Rachel …where was my invite. I can’t believe I’ve been excluded. When did this happen, where was this… *cuts off John and Rachel in retaliation, why should I keep in touch with them if they can’t keep in touch with me*
Depending on your situation, you might be stuck at home on a Friday night with nothing planned, seeing a picture like this just amplifies FOMO and loneliness.
Maybe you can relate to a time a good friend posted a similar picture to either picture and remember your reaction.
Maybe the reaction could be along the lines of reaction 3 – ‘’oh cool’’. Yet at some point, some content posted on social media has probably stirred up a strong emotion, joy, positive feelings, jealousy, envy, desire.
I think social media is great – it lets me know where my friends are, places and destinations I had not previously considered visiting, food I need to try, latest fashion trends, and also lets me share cool things I may have found or want to share.
I’ve also experienced those negative reaction 2’s, I’ve updated my profile picture and received less likes than expected, I’ve felt like I’m not living my ‘best life’ .
As humans we are hard wired as social animals, and with that also comes into play, comparisons, competition. Why else do we buy designer goods, watches, cars, bags – these are status symbols. Some prefer a more discrete approach, others a much more ‘look at me!’ It is the same when we post on facebook/instagram, these are effectively a highlight reel.
I’ve seen a poor guy snap his girlfriend on a beach in Thailand for half an hour, moving a millimetre to the left every second with his thumb firmly on the capture button, to capture every possible angle for that 1 instagram post…
So where am I going with this…
Social media can be good, and it can be bad. At its inherent nature, if you let it be, it can be destructive, it can be a way of validation (likes, comments, shares, attention,followers, subscribers), it can feed narcissistic behaviour. We naturally compare, comparison can be used as a force to inspire us to ‘do better’, however it can also have a psychological impact and make our lives feel inadequate.
However also know that as humans, we are insatiable. The iPhone 5s, I was amazed by when it came out 2 years ago? Looks terrible compared to the XR. But what about compared to the Nokia 3310?
Yes 5s is amazing.. but …
but I need the iPhone XR, my 5s is shit.
At the core of all of this, is our “self”, and the perception of ourselves, the ego. The first stunning picture of China’s rice fields, is in response to the reader’s own reality and environment, where the reader thinks they should be. The second picture is John and Rachel, excluding the reader which is an insult to the reader’s ego – ‘do I not get on with them as well as I thought I did?”
Social media adverts are designed so the user feels inadequate, unless you buy it! It makes you ‘need’ that iPhone, otherwise your life is incomplete.
The mastery of the self, the ego and therefore the mind is key to reap the gains of social media, and to eliminate the negatives… self esteem should come from within and not from an instagram ad, or from yourself posting and having 10,000 likes. Loneliness (I’ve written a guide to understand and overcome loneliness here) and stress also all stem from your mind and perception.
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