Social media is NOT real life

Mental Health

Whilst scrolling through Instagram, and other means of social media, it’s important to remember that social media isn’t real life.

As a society, we’ve become programmed into believing that the images we see upon our screens are a realistic perception of reality. When in hindsight, this isn’t merely the case.

I’m an advocate for mental health, positivity and I’m working on self-love. I aim to make my social media as honest as possible, an outlet where I document my journey (including the positives and negatives) But this comes with the understanding that the content we stumble across can often be misleading.

We often post content that suggests that we’re constantly living our best, happiest and healthiest lives. When the reality is – We have no idea what’s going on behind closed doors for others, and a person who may exhibit “perfection” (a mythological concept) could quite possibly be going through hell, secretly. The people who appear to be the happiest and most supported could well be battling Depression whilst incoherently feeling isolated, friendless and withdrawn. Those who seem all “put together” may slowly be falling apart. The reality being, nobody has it all figured out. Social media modifies our assumptions on others, whilst it simultaneously leads us to questioning the stages we’re at personally. We’re constantly competing to be our best selves, whilst shielding away our true selves and our feelings. And I believe we should be increasing our support networks, both virtually and in reality, and focusing our energies towards loving and appreciating ourselves for who we are.

But… Why?

Simple.

We’re afraid of the judgement gained through sharing the realities of our lives and our situations. Sharing a personal post could lead to being branded as a weirdo, which is obviously up there with the WORST things in the world next to receiving no likes, being unfriended and unfollowed. I encourage everybody to be honest on social media. Share your situation, share your story, reach out for support. From experience, people will be inspired by your journey, will be supportive and be encouraged to share theirs too! 

Photo editing

Images are posed, planned and often edited to counteract an unrealistic standard of typical every day life. App stores are compiled with a variety of editing apps and within a split second, we can achieve our dream bodies, remove evidence of acne and filter out our imperfections and insecurities. Instagram captures the “perfect” and most memorable moments in people’s lives, without the recognition that people behind their screens are often struggling. Struggling with self acceptance, low self esteem, and a collection of other issues. This only leads to vulnerable people falling into comparative habits.

”Why can’t I look like _____” 

“____ is dieting, so OBVIOUSLY this means that I should be, too”. 

We see images of people on holidays, sitting in 50°c heat in stunning locations with an ice-cream in one hand and a margarita in the other and quickly assume that this person is happy and privileged. The image instantly receives over 300 likes, and with this lies the judgement that this person is doing well. Again, we can’t assume this based on images and minimal background knowledge. Which is another reason why I advocate kindness, ALWAYS. Kindness is free, spread it everywhere you go!

With modern day technology, it’s easy to manipulate images to boost our egos and to increase the engagement we receive on Instagram, and the likes we rally up on the likes of Facebook and Twitter. It’s all about angles. People pose to attitudinise thigh gaps (which, by the way, are genetically based features and definitely not the route to happiness and fulfilment) and toned abs, only catch glimpses of forced smiles, moments spent in the gym and spend minutes allowing their breakfast to run cold in order to catch a picturesque glimpse of it whilst it’s laid out beautifully, rather than focusing on the nourishment and satisfaction gained from eating.

Social media isn’t real life. Its a virtual, fictional reality which can often, unfortunately, bring more damage than necessary. The only people we should be aiming to outdo is ourselves. We cannot distinguish a “norm” between the reality we know and edited versions of our own, and edited people’s lives.

The lives we see on our screens aren’t fully being lived, the mirrored images displayed right in front of our eyes simply don’t exist. And I believe it’s important to consider this when flicking through social media news feeds. A realisation being: The people you see on Instagram don’t look like the people on Instagram.

Self- love, starts with self

We all have our quirks, our insecurities, our struggles and our downfalls. All of which we shouldn’t be ashamed of. Nor should we feel obliged to hide away. Nobody has a perfect life, we’re a generation constantly in a state of self improvement and growth, and part of the process is sitting back and acknowledging that we’re Human.

You’re loved, valid and important. Even with your downfalls, your insecurities and when you make mistakes. And mostly importantly, beautiful.

And your worth can never be defined by social media.

2019: Diet culture, breaking rules and finding body positivity

Mental Health

I desperately want 2019 to be a revolution, the riddance of diet culture and fad diets in place of body confidence and the focus on the many benefits food has for our bodies. As a society, we’re fixated with our appearances and the number on the scale – easily forgetting that neither of those factors determine our worth.

Constantly striving for a perfection met by an Instagram filter that simply does not exist.

Eating Disorders manifest their way into millions of people’s lives and the turmoil we experience can only be described as a constant war against ourselves and what we know is right, whilst obeying the wrong and viewing our bodies (and food) as our biggest enemies. An epitome of darkness and never ending feelings of failure categorised by the voices in our head. Not just a diet, or a phase. Fighting against our bodies that have issued us with energy, advanced our first steps to waking or dancing, allowing us to hug and to learn.

Don’t miss out on 95% of your life just to weigh 5% less.

January can be a difficult time for those suffering from an Eating Disorder, following bouts of diet talk after Christmas indulgence. People around us committing to gym memberships or signing up to slimming world, engaging in fad diets or silly detoxes. It’s toxic and it’s harmful, but we most focus on ourselves and our own wellbeing. “New year, new me” shouldn’t be about depriving ourselves, it should be about reinventing ourselves, finding happiness and making memories.

The acceptance that we are enough, we are beautiful, capable and strong – irrespective of how we may feel or what we may be thinking at times.

So many of us (myself included) maintain a negative relationship with ourselves and the bodies that have housed us for the entirety of our lives. Unsatisfied if we haven’t reached our target weights or if our tummies stick out slightly.

Instead of this, shouldn’t we be focusing on more desirable factors? The fulfilment of the first bite of a crisp apple, or the first scoop of ice cream on a warm Summer’s day, as opposed to calories and guilt? I cannot accentuate enough that one day, we will grow older wishing to have fully experienced our lives, saying yes to a pizza date or stepping out of the comfort of a meal plan, regardless of how scary and uncomfortable at times. We’re supposed to live, not just merely survive, and that includes fighting our fears and challenging our thoughts.

I hope 2019 is a year filled with mental and physical growth, happiness and most importantly – acceptance in both the body and the mind. Being kind to ourselves is important, showing ourselves compassion is important and staying safe is important, too.

Helpful Instagram accounts:

Unbeknownst to me, I had previously been following a series of toxic accounts on social media. And I cannot express how much of a positive impact is met when replacing those accounts for positive, self-help accounts. The things we expose ourselves to can often have a big influence on our moods: both good and bad.

1) bodyposipanda

2) bodyposipower

3) recipesforselflove

4) ourmindfulbloom

5) catielynclcsw

6) thebalancebee