Do you remember life before facebook? I remember my boyfriend at the time signing up for an account, but because I wasn’t yet enrolled in University, I couldn’t get an account. (When facebook was only available for some Universities). I remember the moment I got a University email, I signed up. There were no picture albums yet on facebook, and I’m always thinking: what was I doing on facebook at the time? All I can remember is writing witty comments on friends walls, looking up “old” high school friends, (high school had only been one year earlier though!) and poking people.
How do I use facebook today? It’s sadly supposed to be some kind of mirror of the life I live. I update it with pictures of my summer escapades, vacation pictures or I post interesting intellectual news articles. I post funny puns (like the one above) that I find on the internet, or post funny videos or memes.
The thing is, I, like many of my Millennial generation friends, are addicted. I can’t tell you how many times I check facebook a day. I use it to do all those things listed above, but I also use it for email, organize events, remember birthdays and then wish them happy birthday. But most horribly, I use it to look into other people’s life. If, as mentioned above, facebook is supposed to update our friends about our life, well then, I look.
On one hand, as a Canadian expat, I like this. It means, that while I’m living my life halfway across the world, my friends and family can occasionally peak into my life and I can peak into theirs.
But what it means is that we begin to cater our lives to how they will be perceived online. I remember, just a few weeks ago, after finishing a Spartan-like run (obstacle course race) my group of friends took an “after” photo: we were caked in mud and smiling at our latest feat. The moment we got into the car to go home, another friend pressed me to automatically post the picture on facebook. It’s become an automatic tally of the cool things we’ve done: letting other people know what we’ve done on an instant updating type of way. I was hesitant about posting it right away, but the car pressured me into posting it. Then, they kept checking how many “likes” the photo garnered.
It’s as if today, every second we live, needs to be translated into the online life we live. It didn’t happen in less it’s on facebook.
It means, that at every party, get together, milestone, field trip, vacation we are all equipped with our phones and cameras, ready to document every second onto out social media life. Ready to show those 936 “friends” (the actual number of “friends” I have one facebook) how cool we are, and how cool our life is.
And so, while I’m procrastinating in the day, I do the same thing. I browse through the pictures and status updates of those “friends” I have on facebook. I look at their pictures, what they’re posting etc..
And so, with hundreds of eyes on my once private life, it translates to me, as more pressure to be amazing. To prove to the world, how great I am, and how great my life is. And while I’m deleting pictures where “I look fat and ugly” or sifting through posts that are acceptable to the public by highlighting only my intellect or good sense of humour- so is everyone else. And what it inevitably leads to is not a mirror of our lives, but a fake reflection of who we are. And so on those days where I’m sifting through an old friend or acquaintances pictures, all I see is how amazing she looks. How thin she is. How happy she is. How beautiful. Without realizing that looking through my own profile would perhaps bring up the same feelings in someone else, I instead put myself down. Why don’t I have that life? Why aren’t I this and that and blah and bloh.
A recent study came out by Michigan University that stated that facebook can affect our well being. The title: “Facebook use predicts declines in Subjective wellbeing in Young Adults. ” makes complete sense. The more we compare our real lives with the fake lives of those we see on facebook, the sadder we become and the more insecure of ourselves we become. My newsfeed is bombarded by doctored photos of girls looking tanned, and perfect at clubs, with newly smiling married couples, with babies, with happy couples, with friends traveling across the world. At first glance, I have every reason to put my own life down and compare it to theirs. But- I too have those pictures. And what I know best, is that behind every photo is a story. Behind every smile is a person living a life that can’t be translated to a status update.
So today, I’m staying off facebook. Not that tomorrow I won’t be back on, but today I can at least take a step deeper into my challenge, and remember that this life of my mine is more complicated and layered than a social media site can ever reflect. And so, bonus points to me for reflecting on a site that can so easily put down my self-confidence. I love that I have the ability to question those instruments in my life that have sometimes become second nature. Go soul! And as for body: Today I’m going for shoulders. I love my shoulders. I’m wearing a tank top right now, and I love how my freckles are lightly spotted around them, and for some reason shoulders make me feel sexier and more confident, and so today I’m embracing them.