the love/hate relationship i have with social media has been bubbling inside me for awhile and it's finally burst. my recent discovery of gomi (enter at your own risk) has either made me more cynical, or more aware of the cynics in the world, i'm not sure which. but it prompted me to think about my social media consumption and how it makes me feel. two words immediately came to mind: fear of missing out (fomo) and fear of being less than (foblt - i made this one up).
the root cause of fomo/foblt, as i see it, in social media is this: the content that is shared on social media platforms is 100% decided upon by the publisher. while that seems like a "duh" statement, what isn't always obvious to reflect on is that the content shared is not always an accurate portrayal of all facets of someone's life, but rather the snapshots they choose to share with their internet audience. and more often than not, people are sharing the snapshots that highlight themselves and their life, in the best, most awesome way possible.
there is nothing wrong with sharing happy content on social media - that is not what i'm saying. my point is that what we see on social media is only the side of the story that people are choosing to reveal to us, but we often aren't consciously aware of this. so instead, when we see susie jane always posting pictures of her perfect life and perfect dog and perfect husband and perfect friends and so on, we start to feel either less than or that we are missing out. not everyone feels this way, so let me clarify that, too. but the bombardment of "perfect lives through social media feeds" can make a lot of people feel this way, especially if they've ever struggled with low self esteem.
i am one of those people, which is why fomo and foblt hit home a little harder for me. i see pictures of people running ragnar races in a big group, or winning age group medals, or cruising down a lazy river with friends, or drinking a fruity tooty cocktail with their significant other on the beach or hanging with mickey mouse, or bobby jo and mary may hanging out without me and i can't help but think that i'm missing something or not good enough to do all those things, too. we live in a culture where the more you have is often equated to how important or valued a person you are. while "more" used to mean "money" and "things" it has now started to transition into how many followers you have, likes you get or how many sexy/interesting/selfie photos/videos you can post to instagram. falling into this belief is a slippery slope to slide down and if i'm not conscious of the fact that even i choose to only share pictures of cool things or me (usually) at my best, then it is easy to believe my feelings of inadequacy based on what i'm seeing on social media are accurate.
i made some very deliberate decisions awhile ago to stop watching tv or buying many of the women's health and beauty magazines because of the messages they send to women (and men) about body image. now i'm wondering if i need to make a more deliberate decision to spend less time on social media, too. not all social media is bad, again, there are many wonderful things, but if spending too much time reading feeds starts to make me feel bad, it's likely not a good use of my time until i can train my brain to realize that what i'm seeing isn't the whole picture and a person's value is not based on how many likes they have or what they choose to present of themselves on the internet.
i'm not sure if a lot of people feel this way about social media, but i know a few who do. i'm curious to hear what a larger audience thinks - if anyone else has posted about this, please let me know :)