The concept of social media – namely, the collation and projection of a hyped-up fantasy setting – has been within our conversation and consciousness for neigh on forever.
Simply, as primal beings we are obsessed with the presentation, both physical, mental and emotional, of perfection. The physical manifestation of which, is Instagram.
It a great tool, a platform for self-expression, thought and it quenches our appetite for inclusion and voyeurism. But, like any insight tool, it can be destructive.
Social media, by its very nature, allows us to create an entirely fantasy world and it lets people believe and invest in that fantasy. Comparison, not feeling good enough, envy, greed, jealousy…these are all emotions which social media can enhance.
The solution? Maintaining a healthy distance and never fully believing everything you hear, see or read. It’s a one-dimensional platform, but as consumers we invest too much of our emotions in a tool which offers very little in return.
An example: the last three months in my house have been difficult, really tough. However, I have been fortunate to travel a lot in the past weeks, and naturally these excursions have appeared on social media. To the naked eye, they see a travel editor who has the luxury of travelling and adventuring to far flung places.
Yet, on one of these sojourns in Munich I picked up bed bugs. Anyone who has had, experiences or dabbled with these pesky beasts know their all-consuming effect. For three months I have been bitten and attacked, and we have had two companies come out and spray the area with hard-core pesticides – the first, unsuccessful, the latter, more so.
I have marks all across my body, I haven’t slept, washed and frozen all of my clothes, had hundreds of distressed calls with our landlord, cried endlessly. The truth, I have been a walking, emotional and distressed mess.
I have read those suffers who have had PTSD from bed bugs, others who have had to move to a new house. Some burnt all of their clothes and started afresh, others have ended their relationship over bedbugs. Bed bugs are a violation on your personal space. Any insomniac will tell you how lack of sleep will affect every facet of their life. Well, bed bugs ensure this, but only more enhanced; scratching your skin till it bleeds, lumps all over your body.
This experience certainly doesn’t translate to social media, and I have kept this entire escapade at bay. My rawest iteration of emotions over the past few months, that of extreme anger, dismay, helplessness and vulnerability have not been conveyed on Instagram. Rather, a cursory glance over my feed would convey the message of fulfilment, excitement, adventure and elation.
Katherine Ormerod, a dedicated Instagrammer, has ‘broken the bubble’ – so to speak – and has written a book, ‘Why Social Media is Ruining your Life’. Her TedTalk is insightful and sheds light on her own experience and cleverly crafted social media tapestry, which certainly didn’t reflect her emotions or indeed reality of the time. (Listen here to discover why).
I have always prided myself on maintaining a healthy distance and cynicism when it comes to social media. But truthfully, I am guilty of projecting an image and reality that is far from the truth.
So here it is; in all its convoluted glory. Big, red and itchy spots aren’t so attractive on social as sweeping photos of London, or the wilderness of the Welsh mountains. But, the truth is the last few months have been plagued by an infestation of a crawly creature with a hungry appetite for my blood. Try putting that on social ….