13th Mar 2018
Nod and blink twice if you can identify with this scene:
It’s a Sunday night and I’ve sat down to relax before another busy week ahead. I take out my phone and start to scroll through Instagram. Immediately I am bombarded with an array of imagery: photos of colleagues running marathons, friends doing yoga, influencers going on juice cleanses and glamourous randomers hosting dinner parties. It looks like they are all living their best lives, and I can’t help but note the disparity between them and me. I am lying sprawled out on a couch hacking into a tub of ice cream with a fork.
I scrolled and scrolled in the hope that I would spot someone that I could identify with, someone who made me feel a bit better about myself, someone with human flaws. But to no avail. Even the “inspirational quotes” were so self-satisfied that in the end I gave up, my thumb cramping and my spirit dampened.
They say that comparison is the thief of happiness, and I couldn’t agree more. All it took was a couple of minutes to get me riddled with self-criticism and scorn. My icecream wasn’t dished out in a floral bowl accompanied by colour-coded superfoods – it wasn’t even out of the tub, for pete’s sake! And let’s not forget the fact that I was eating it with a fork.
But this is what it comes down to: I was perfectly happy with my Sunday set-up until I logged onto social media. I know that people use social media as a “highlights reel” for their life, very few of us are strong enough to show the lows along with the highs, and I’m as guilty as anyone in this regard. However, it’s the persistent projection of life-perfection that really gets to me.
And after many months I decided enough was enough. I was sick of being made to feel inferior, like I was some sort of a failing loser in life, just because I hadn’t made a fresh pressed juice at 6am or gone for a morning hike through Matchu Pichu. It was having a negative effect on my day-to-day happiness.
And so I decided to do a major social media sweep. Any people who endlessly projected their perfection into the ether, made me feel unworthy, plagued me with images of their toned stomachs… gone, gone, gone. The unfollowing frenzy was massively empowering. I was taking control of my own happiness, and it felt good.
To fill my suddenly sparse feed I went in search for alternative accounts; people and groups who addressed issues that I actually cared about – female empowerment; body positivity; creative collectives; people who don’t take themselves seriously; anyone willing to be honest; anyone that made me laugh… They all got the follow and before long my new feed had the power to take me out of a bad mood, instead of put me in one.
The real world can be a tough enough place as it is, so if you can make your online world a hub of refreshing honesty, beautiful creativity, humour and authenticity, then you’ll be a lot better off.
So, instead of complaining about how bad social media makes you feel about yourself, I implore you embark on your own empowering journey of unfollow-ment. Rule of thumb: if they are chronic boasters or over-posters, then they gotta go.
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