I’m taking a look at the gap between inspiration and comparison.
In thinking about the way I consume social media, I figured that I probably spend 6 hours a day (not at once!) listening to podcasts about different lifestyles, refreshing Twitter, scrolling through Instagram, or checking up on people with Snapchat.
I deactivated my Facebook on March 11, but I ended up reactivating it this week to check in for a private event, and to get some class presentations off of my program’s private group. The 2+ week break was definitely good for me, and even though I conceptually understand that my Facebook is now accessible, I think I broke the constant habit of checking it, checking another site, and looping back to Facebook.
The 6 hours of social media don’t happen all at once; sometimes I’m on the train or the bus, or in bed (argh!), on break from work or class, etc. But still, 6 hours a day of aspirational consumption leaves me feeling odd, to say the least.
There are plenty of articles, both scientific and otherwise, that discuss the potentially negative effects of social media. I’m not writing one, but I encourage you to seek some out and skim through.
The main issue I have with my current habit is that I want to aspire to live my own life, not someone else’s. I want to be able to take inspiration from social media, from trying a new hairstyle to a new recipe, or an organic alternative to any number of the products in my life. I don’t want to pay attention to someone else’s curated life at the expense of my own.
When I walk down the street, scrolling, I’m not looking around me. I’m not noticing my posture, the weather, the cute café scenes. I’m paying attention to someone else’s posture, weather, surroundings, fashion, etc. etc. etc. etc. and for what? That’s amazing for them, it’s so cool that we are able to see each other’s lives more closely than ever before. I think that makes for some beautiful sharing.
But does it mean that I have learned to neglect the beauty in my own life?
The sense that I get from social media is that what I have grown and polished will never be enough, not without some kind of mass validation in the form of likes or shares. Yet, even if I had that kind of social media attention, it seems like the people in that position can never stop generating enviable or aspirational content. It seems like they can never have an average day, or just take a so-so picture.
Life can never be weird and messy if it’s designed to be shared – at least, not by current and pervasive social media standards for success. But our life is messy. My notes are EVERYWHERE, even at the end of my finals week. My floors, a beautiful, honey-gold parquet, are super dusty today. The kitchen isn’t sparkling clean, and there’s a little dirt on top of the dryer from my plants’ weekly watering.
Instead of taking two hours to clean the house from top to bottom, my post-finals brain just wants to catch up on some of my favourite lifestyle blogs and not think for awhile. But am I, as I said, teaching myself to value the beauty of others’ lives over the beauty of my own?
Maybe yes, maybe no, but I’m imagining all of the things that I could learn and do if I took even 3 of those 6 social media hours and reinvested them into myself and my goals. A new spring and summer goal, anyone?