L et me start off by saying the benefits of social media are truly abundant, we can connect with people we’ve lost contact with, we can spread awareness about important issues and causes and we can be discovered for our killer smokey eye makeup skills, or the beautiful coulour and style of our outfits, and our skill in photography layout … just to name a few.
However, I have seen the drawbacks of social media that can lead everyone down the same dark and winding path, a gradual loss of our self worth, if we are not careful enough. The “Celfie” has taken over feeds across almost every social media channel. Between smart phones and selfie sticks, anyone can be the model in their own photo. The truth is, it’s fun, it’s convenient and it’s a pleasant way to share our experiences with friends and family. We don’t have to pin down a passer-by to take a snap of us in front of the Tour Eiffel or a magical sunset, our holiday portrait is now just an arm stretch away really.
But in reality, the selfie has gone far beyond a simple picture to capture a moment. “Selfie” is no longer the abbreviation for self-portrait, becoming instead a statement of self-esteem. Perhaps, it is nothing less than an advertisement of our very own soul.
Social Media is never #NoFilter. It is a heavily edited, carefully selected, highly manufactured snapshot of our daily lives. People don’t have a bad brow day or menstrual cycles on Instagram, they don’t have fights or depression, it doesn’t rain, no one works, and the surf is always inviting. It is an acutely manicured fabrication. And even when the negatives moments are broadcast, they are still presented as something to praise or revere, perhaps lacking everything that makes us human.
We must recognise that this is a false world. What matters is what lies outside the door, not in our inbox, socialising doesn’t exist in cyberspace, it exists in flesh and blood and real friends are not measured by a number on our account page but by those who laugh with us and smile with us and hold to comfort us when we cry. In other words, we must change our perception of who we are and recognize our lives online for all the falsity in which they are created. We are not a two-dimensional collection of pixels on a smart phone screen, we are real, we move, we speak, we think … and we hurt. Don’t place ourselves in the firing line if we can’t dodge the bullets.
With this said, social media is amazing, it is the vehicle for so much good, so much happiness and positivity. Hashtags for breast cancer awareness, fund raising for Nepal, and the little things keeping family and friends connected across years and continents, discovering new inspiration and experiencing a world we may otherwise never see. There is an endless wealth of potential in the brave new digital world. We can solve the world’s problems, topple governments and save the lives of those in need. But we have stood on the shoulders of giants to reach this lofty pedestal, and all the while we asked if we could. Now is the time to ask how we should.
Like so many creations of technology in this modern world, Instagram has become an incredible power. It is up to us if we use it for right or wrong . . . It is up to us to save our souls.
Below are some safety tips I have learned from friends and articles I have read over the years.
- Instagram allows you to determine who follows you. If an account is set to private in Instagram’s privacy settings, sending a request is the only way to become a follower of someone or by accepting a request you are allowing people to follow you. This way is a lot safer than having a public profile because only those who you approve to follow you are able see your pictures. However, always assume that everything you post on Instagram can be seen by everyone as there are easy work-arounds available and people that are following you may screen shot and share anything you post without your permission. Privacy settings aren’t foolproof, but they can be helpful.
To set your account to private:
- Open Instagram and go to the wheel on the top right hand corner
Click on the wheel
Scroll down to Private Account
Swipe the button across to the right
- No matter how excited you are about where you are. Remember this is totally your ego doing the talking, do you really want complete strangers knowing exactly where you are and what you are doing, just for the sake of a ‘like’?
- People can keep clicking down to street level on a photo map icon and see exactly where you are.
Collective total of your posts
- It is easy for people to look through your account and be able to piece together information and work out places that you frequent, when you are there, where you work, where you go to school and so on. Patterns of how you go about you daily life can easily start to become very clear in your Instagram feed and so you need to be very aware of what you are posting and how that pieces together to tell a bigger story.
Think before you post
- Keep private information private. Don’t share your home address or other sensitive information online. Do not share important documents such as photos of passports, driver’s licenses or any other form identification. Always remember that Instagram is a public forum and whatever you share is just a screenshot and a crop tool away from being shared as someone else’s image.
Would You Still Share This Picture a Year from Now?
- Back in the day, we took pictures on 35m cameras and had to wait a week just to get them developed. Then we picked what we wanted, put them in an album, and only showed them to family and friends in person. With lightening fast posting abilities, that time for thoughtful reflection is gone.
- I began thinking about something I’ll call, The Development Test. This means asking myself, “Would I still show this picture on social media if I had to wait a full week to get it “developed” before I could post it?” If my answer to this is no, then it’s probably not imperative that I post it.
A distinct sense déjà vu of irrelevant posts
- Studies have shown that irrelevant data can be very annoying to the brain. If you hate sushi or are not interested in food and you saw someone posting his sushi plate on Instagram, there is a very big possibility that your mood will change to the worse.
Consider going Private, but remember nothing truly is!
- If the service you’re using is breached, or if your account or even a friend’s account is ever compromised, your once-private information could suddenly become very public. So never post anything online you might seriously regret later, no matter how private your account appears to be.
We aren’t “living in the moment” anymore. We are “living in the Instagram.”
Rather than doing things because they are fun, we #DoItForTheInsta.
Rather than eating things because we are hungry, we #EatItForTheInsta.
We are worth more than your Instagram likes.
So what if a picture of my most favorite trip, or outfit doesn’t get a lot of likes? It doesn’t make that photo any less beautiful and unique. And so what if a picture of me playing with my lovable cats doesn’t break my highest like record? It doesn’t take away from all the fun I had playing with them and having the time of my life. Also, viewers don’t know what else is happening around the image. For example, a couple on holiday could be posting beautiful images while arguing like dogs and cats the whole time. When all we can see of each other’s lives is whatever fits within perfectly filtered squares, we’ll inevitably do the kind of harmful self-assessment that keeps us thinking that the grass really is greener on the other side, that everyone else’s lives are more perfect than our own.
The bottom line is, don’t get me wrong here, I love Instagram as much as the next person. But when I find myself subconsciously thinking, doing and saying these things, I can’t help but think about how social media is bringing about a subtle decline in our humanity. Of course it’s a natural aspect of human nature to want to be well liked for the things we say and do, but that in no way should mean altering our beliefs and interests for the sake of receiving likes. Though subtle, there is a difference.
In short, anything beautiful, awesome, hilarious, or amazing that evokes emotions including but not limited to: laughter, appreciation, jealousy, inspiration. The sooner we all stop determining our self-worth based off of our popularity on social media, the sooner we will be able to live a more carefree and worry-free life.
Stop being so concerned with the amount of likes we are receiving or not receiving, don’t think any less of ourselves when our like-to-minute ratio is less than that of our 3o something year old cousin and always remember that . . . You are worth more than your Instagram likes!
Bonjour Monday and Happy Instagraming and Be Safe! 🙂