In a generation centered around the constant use of social media, it is no surprise that many teenagers feel pressured to create a façade of a perfect life. Like modern day Jay Gatsbys, people spend hours and hours on social media in attempts to paint a flawless image for society to see. According to Huffington Post, almost seventy-one percent of teenagers have more than one form of social media which they use daily. Whether it be Instagram or Facebook, teenagers constantly find themselves scrolling down posts throughout the day.
With social media platforms focused on likes, retweets and reblogs, individuals often become fixated on the idea of numbers equating their worth. In a 2014 CNN article “Teen ‘Like’ and ‘FOMO’ anxiety," several teenagers admitted to the mentality that the more likes they get, the better they feel about themselves. One even referred to the idea of the “100 club,” which means you are part of the exclusive elite who get more than a hundred likes on a post.
After reading the CNN article, I couldn’t help but think about myself. I remember the first Instagram post I got over hundred likes on and how accomplished I felt getting those likes; however, when my next post didn’t get a hundred likes, I freaked out. How did I go from hundred likes to seventy-eight within a few days?
I started feeling like I wasn’t good enough and that I had to put up a facade of being happy in order to be accepted by my peers. A post of me complaining or of a low point in my life would not get me as many likes as a picture of me from my Homecoming dance. I started believing that it’s not okay to be sad. It is better for me to put up a fake smile with a happy pose than to be honest with myself. My social media looked perfect but I felt trapped.
I quickly spoke to my best friend about the situation and how fixated I became on the idea of likes. She suggested that I take a social media detox and just focus on how I’m feeling. I decided to take a week off from Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, and that was probably the hardest week of my life. As someone who used Snapchat religiously, I had trouble not knowing what my friends were doing and posting about my own day.
In that week off, I learned so much about myself. I learned that I didn’t owe it to anyone to fake a happy life but I owed it to myself, to be honest with how I felt. I realized that it’s okay not to be okay.
Social media isn't supposed to make us feel bad about ourselves. It is a small aspect of our lives that shouldn't be able to consume us. It's understandable that we post the best pictures of ourselves on there because why would we post an embarrassing picture (unless you're me who enjoys using embarrassing pictures of myself as memes)? However, it is crucial we don't confuse social media for reality. It is time that we realize that sometimes the person we paint on social media isn't the person we are.
It is so important to be honest with yourself with how you feel and if there’s anything you get out of this article, it’s to not live life through a filter. Life is supposed to be filled with emotion. Life isn’t meant to be perfect. There are going to be times where life just sucks and you want to spend the rest of the day on Netflix. That is OK - never ever feel obligated to put up a happy face when you are falling apart on the inside. There are also going to be times where you are going to feel like you’re on top of the world. Embrace those moments and hold on to them. Life is unpredictable but that’s the beauty of life.
Lead Image Credit: Uzma Jamil