Social media has allowed everyone the platform to create their ideal life, representing themselves and everything they do as “perfect”. The psychological definition of social media is
“online services which encourage their users to digitise and publicly share previously private personal information”.
When I first started using social media in eighth grade, I remember how excited I was at all the new possibilities to connect with my friends and share my experiences. I have always been creative and became very interested in this new form of expression. Overcome with this excitement, I was unaware of the many negative experiences to come.
Immediately after creating my first Instagram I remember showing my friend and then helping her create her own. At first, it was an exciting positive experience for us as we chose what we wanted to post and how we wanted to express ourselves.
Our time together then shifted to finding random creative things to do, to taking “photoshoots”. After each photoshoot, we would look through all the pictures, pick our favorite, then post. Ultimately over time, we became aware of other apps and features such as Instagram’s photo editing that disrupted this process of just capturing a moment than sharing it.
As I began using social media more and more, I came come across new platforms and apps that caught my attention. Additionally, the more time I spent on social media, the more I valued comments and likes on my post. This is a form of ‘social capital’ which “refers to the observation that as we know more or less people, we gain or lose valuable information and opportunities”. I began comparing how many likes and comments I got compared to the other people I was connected to online and started to get insecure about my own post. I would spend hours editing photos of myself, correcting any mistake I could find to represent my own life as falsely perfect.
My parents did everything they can to warn and educate me about the dangers online. All my accounts were private, I kept personal information (such as an address, phone, ect.) private and I didn’t engage with people I didn’t know. Despite this, I was still exposed to other people misrepresenting themselves or their lives as “perfect”, unconsciously comparing myself and questioning why mine wasn’t the same. Therefore, although social media’s primary, as well as my own personal use for it, was for connection, the more I began using it, the less connected I felt to others as well as my own identity.