social media

Real life vs. internet life?

One thing I’ve come to really dislike about social media is the trend to portray a ‘perfect’ life. You have those on Instagram taking 20 selfies to get that pose just right… which is then edited beyond recognition with filters.  Maybe it’s just the people I come across my own age but everyone seems to depict this ‘I’m in school, but have the time to eat out and go to concerts every weekend, spend glamorous summers at my fantastic internship all the while jetting off on a foreign adventure’ lifestyle. There is such a false-ness about it all.

However isn’t this now the draw of social media with likes of twitter, instagram, youtube and tumblr? Unlike Facebook, where there is only so much you can fake around people you actually know, on these sites you can create a completely different persona. You can become your very own pinterest board come to life! But really what is the point of it all? To instigate jealousy? Not to show your vulnerabilities?

I have a friend who after graduating last year, immediately got a job offer at a start up in NYC. From what I have seen, her social media is filled with pictures of herself going to restaurants and boutiques while jetting off every couple of weeks to visit her boyfriend in san francisco. However recently we ran into each other and I was given a fuller picture. In reality: she walks an hour to work since she can’t afford transportation, she constantly has to work overtime which she isn’t paid for and her boss is an egomanical tyrant. Nothing you would suspect from the image portrayed on social media.

Now I understand that no one wants to be the person constantly whining and complaining on social media. For one thing there can be negative ramifications, we’ve seen how people have lost their jobs for an insensitive tweet or an incriminating Facebook post. However at what point are you portraying an unrealistic version of yourself? I’ll admit that I felt both jealous and self-concious; what was I doing wrong? Why didn’t I have the time or resources to live like everyone else (seemingly) was. Was the problem with those who portrayed this false opulent lifestyle or was it with myself for taking these social media interactions as a literal representation of someones life instead of just a sampling of positive highlights?

Later that day I opened up about some stressors I was facing to a close friend. It’s unclear whether consciously or unconsciously but I had internalized all of my anxiety in an attempt to exude a certain image. Again the question was why? To keep people at arms length? To keep my fears a secret? Although she didn’t have a crystal ball to look into the future and let me know everything was going to work out, just talking about my worries and letting myself be vulnerable helped much more than I had expected.

The internet blackhole

Do you ever feel slightly suspicious of people who constantly need to be surrounded by others? While there’s nothing wrong with being sociable, I’ve always felt it’s important to be comfortable with your own thoughts. Whether through scheduled meditation or an unexpected few moments throughout the day, there’s something about those simple times of quiet that bring about the greatest moments of self reflection.

It was during one of these moments, full disclosure I was washing the dishes at the time, that I came to ponder something that had been gnawing at the back of my mind for the last couple weeks. While browsing through social media I came across some academic achievements of my peers, and almost instantly felt despondent. How had they accomplished so much while at the same time staying at the top of their class in a rigorous program? I thought back to where my spare time had gone in the past week, the answer was a simple one: the internet. Somehow time seems to speed up when your aimlessly browsing the internet. You’ll stumble onto a wikipedia page and somehow you’ve been clicking around page after page for the last hour.

My time waster of choice is youtube. On any given day there are hundreds if not thousands of new videos uploaded to the site; you are guaranteed to find a genre that peaks your interest. An almost ironic youtube vice as of late has been watching declutter videos. Even writing it out it sounds utterly ridiculous, why am I watching someone talk about what they’re getting rid of?! Clearly the item in question isn’t very good if it’s going in the bin and yet I diligently keep watching.

I don’t even want to try and count the amount of hours I’ve spent on the site but in all honesty it probably totals the time it takes to learn a new language. In a site filled with endless genres of content, instead of watching videos on a TEDtalk, philosophical questions (who would have known that this would be the focus of Russell Brand’s youtube channel), anatomy or scientific innovations what was I watching instead? Videos of someone doing some spring cleaning. That being said there isn’t any use in crying over spilt milk, that time has already been wasted. While I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions, this is a habit I want need to change. Instead of spending hours thoughtlessly listening to vloggers discuss something I’ll forget again 10 minutes later; I want to take that time and put it into something more mentally stimulating or instead devote that time to honing my passions.

Its easy to fall into an internet black hole. But I’ve come to the point where it’s finally time for me to climb out.