Just to preface, I can definitely be a social media addict. I love scrolling through my feed, wasting hours on the Explore/Recommendations page, showering my BFFs with heart emojis and compliments. Maybe that means I actually like procrastinating, I don't know. I do know, however, that I probably spend too much time on social media, and I am well aware of how it can affect us.
On one hand, it emphasizes our individuality, allows us to express our creativity. I think I can speak for most of us when I say the excitement of posting that perfect picture — you know, the candid of you laughing on the beach just as the sunset turns the sky a cotton-candy pink — is the highlight of the whole adventure. You have the opportunity to show off your fun day and your aesthetic picture — the very essence of your individualism and creativity. You think you're being unique; you think you're being different. You think you're exhibiting your own individual self.
But, what about the ten other sunset posts in your feed? What about the Instagram influencer who posted a candid beach sunset picture that you fell in love with yesterday? You know, the perfectly edited one taken with a professional camera in the utmost perfect light. That one photo that you wanted to replicate, that one photo you now compare your own too.
And then, as you keep scrolling down and down and down into the rabbit hole of comparison, how many people's photos have you judged in relation to your own by putting yourself or the people you follow down? If we're all trying to post the very best picture, with the best light and angle and hair, where is the individualism? Where is the creativity? Now, we're just in competition with each other. We're feeling bad about our own pictures not being up to those "standards," or we're negatively judging other people's pictures to make ourselves feel better about our own.
We're no longer posting for our enjoyment, to express ourselves. By the end of the day, we just simply feel bad. Because in an effort to promote individuality and creativity, social media has taken it away from us. Now, we want to be like that millionaire Instagram influencer or that girl with the perfect hair we've seen walking around campus once or twice. We want to show off all the fun stuff we do because we're determined to prove we're having as good of a time as the next person. We want to post the perfect picture because we're determined to prove we are just as pretty or fit or good at makeup. Not because we're bad people; not because we're mean people; not because we don't support all the people we follow.
But because social media often forces us, unintentionally, to compare ourselves to others — our accomplishments, our lifestyles, our looks. And there is no individuality in comparison. There is only regret, sadness, insecurity, competition. Social media is one of the most unique, expressive aspects of our society. However, it is also the most detrimental to our self-esteem, at times.
We should all strive to be individual and original because we are amazing the way we are. In an effort to support this, though, social media has unfortunately taken it away.