With a showreel of perceived perfection ever-present on our various screens, it’s very easy to compare ourselves to others, despite our own fantastic achievements and level of contentment. Surely the first checkpoint if we're so easily knocked off balance should be looking within ourselves rather than at the vomit-inducing Daily Mail Showbiz pages, yet when we get a spare ten minutes to rest, it’s intriguing that scrolling is the first thing we find ourselves doing. I’m as guilty of this as anyone else.
I feel particularly sad for young people, who learn far too early the soul-destroying practice of measuring the validity of their happiness against tiny snapshots of others’. Trying to guide them in the right direction is difficult enough when reality TV has normalised a life centred around little more than surgical enhancements, grotesque displays of wealth, and no doubt manufactured - but no less aggressive - confrontations.
I do wonder why we willingly spend hours engaging in activities on social media we'd never even consider in 'real life'
We willingly spend hours engaging in activities on social media we'd never even consider in 'real life'. Imagine consciously signing up for how to compare yourself to others or learn to reason with bigots at nightschool.
And then there are the trolls. These are people who feel they have so little power in their real lives that they need to hurt others to feel any sort of self-worth. The people who may be perfectly pleasant in person but feel ok about being nasty to others - or engaging in bigoted, sometimes disturbing, content - when they're online. And let's not forget those with the social media presence of the Dalai Lama (complete with #BeKind filter on their facebook photo) but who are pretty bloody awful to others in real life. Surely our online and real life behaviours are the same thing? Putting it bluntly, if you limit being an arsehole to an online forum, you'll still be an arsehole. I look forward to the day when we call each other out more on this, but also when the various platforms do more to stop it. It's not about 'cancelling' people for having an opinion - it's about cancelling our toxic culture and viewing bullying and cruelty that takes place online as seriously as we do if it takes place in real life.
Putting it bluntly, if you limit being an arsehole to an online forum, you'll still be an arsehole.
Of course social media has its benefits. Using it to share my thoughts and seek advice and inspiration from others on anything from work to exercise has helped me connect with like-minded and inspirational people all over the world and build a virtual community for myself.
So moving forward, what do I want on my timeline? Photos of my family and friends enjoying good times, the opportunity to support friends going through a challenging time and needing positivity? Inspiration from the people I follow on strength, health and happiness? YES. Oh, and lots and lots of greyhounds.
Racism, liberal usage of the word "c***" and watching someone showboat with perceived superiority? Probably not so much. By all means, share your achievements, check in at the gym (I was a serial gym checker inner) and tell me when you're going running so that I can cheer you on! But I now steer clear of those who use their productivity to jeer at others. I wholeheartedly applaud anyone who used lockdown to start their own business or lose four stone. What I don't applaud are the people who used social media to criticise anyone that didn't.
Given that this post is about social media, I should probably add that you can connect with me on any of my platforms at the bottom of my home page. Apologies in advance for the excessive greyhound pics.