Buckle up, cause I have some opinions to share here today and I can guarantee, some aren’t going to like it. And while I don’t ever want to offend, tear down or speak negatively in this blog, I think this conversation MUST be had. So I’m going to try and approach it with as much grace, authenticity and integrity as I do with any post. I’ve never written such a strong opinion piece…which should indicate how passionate I am about THIS topic today.
Did you see that article floating around the internet yesterday where an “Instagram celebrity” decided to just “quit” social media all together because it’s basically all of farce and she is sick of it. SICK OF IT. With a combined social following of over a million followers, she’s decided she’s had enough and is up and leaving social media for good.
But here’s the thing, she’s not really quitting at all. She’s just rebranding. She’s rebranding into the social media celebrity that HATES social media, but will still use it to promote herself. Interesting. But that’s not the point of this post.
You see, here’s the frustrating thing: while I can see what she is trying to say, I think she’s missing the point all together. She has nothing but hate for social media and begs the people of the world to come up with a new social media platform that won’t be about the numbers/followers/likes but just about being REAL.
But correct me if I’m wrong, when Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and all the other social media platforms out there first came into existence, their goal wasn’t to make people appear FAKE! Marc Zuckerberg didn’t create (the) Facebook because he wanted it to be everyone’s highlight reel. He created it because he wanted people to be able to connect, in a REAL way.
The problem with social media isn’t social media…it’s the way users are using it. WE have turned it into a highlight reel. WE have put so much stock into how many followers or likes we have. WE have created these social media celebrities. It’s not social media, it’s the users.
I watched this girls heart-wrenching videos, as she’s falling apart because she has put everything into building this false social image of herself. She said she felt like she was worthless as a 12 year old and looked up to these social celebrities and thought, “They have it all. I want to be just like them.” So she pursued fame. She pursued being validated by strangers online. And she became obsessed with it, for the last five years.
Her pain is very real and that’s what makes me feel so much for her. Why did she feel the way she did when she was 12 years old? I want to know about her upbringing. Where were her parents? What were they instilling in her? Why did she feel this desperate draw to be validated online? She talks about going entire DAYS without eating a single thing to make sure she got the BEST picture of herself in a sponsored bikini post. She talks about doing endorsements for products and brands she doesn’t even believe in. Why was this 12, 13, 14 year old allowed to behave like that online? Why was nobody guiding her or protecting her?
You see, the issue here IS NOT social media, it’s the user and how she’s used it. She entered the realm of the online world with zero sense of worth or self-esteem with a goal to gain her validation from total strangers online. She sought to create an illusion that her life was perfect; that she hung out at the beach all day, that she was this super skinny girl, that she had perfect skin (which now her videos are without any makeup to show her acne). She created this false sense of self online and now, she’s coming to terms with it but instead of just changing HERself, she’s lashing out saying all social media is bad.
Listen, I am ALL for loving yourself AS YOUR ARE…and I truly hope that message has been LOUD AND CLEAR with this blog. I try to be HONEST when it comes to talking about my body, my kids, my sometimes overwhelming life. But just because I have makeup on with proper lighting when I take a selfie, doesn’t mean that I somehow don’t love myself for who I really am. Nor does it mean that I’m looking for online validation.
Let’s be clear here: this is my JOB. Blogging is an industry that is growing daily in the online world. When I started this blog, it was with a two-fold purpose: to inspire people and to generate income. That’s never been a secret. Nor has what I’ve been doing on the blog ever been “fake” or inauthentic. It’s really just an extension of my everyday life. And in a short amount of time, I HAVE been incredibly BLESSED to build up the readership that I have and make money. I have made money and generated a good income but NEVER at the sake of being fake or promoting something I don’t already use or believe in.
When it comes to posting the perfect picture, of course I’m guilty of that…most of us are, whether blogger/social influencer or not. We’ve all heard that social media is your highlight reel and at this point, I feel like we should all know that. But let’s stop and think about this logically for a second. For those of you who work outside of the home, how do you show up for work? Having just rolled out of bed, with yesterday’s product in the corner of your eyes and bad breath? NO! (at least I certainly hope you don’t). You fix yourself up. You brush your hair (and your teeth), you put on some make-up, you pick out a nice outfit, spray some perfume on, put on your earrings and other jewellery and off you go. How different than is that from MY job, which is to be a social influencer? I have to wake up and do the exact same things. The only difference is, I post about it online. That doesn’t make me fake, it just makes my job different.
And when you are at that job, are you not trying to work your best? To get that raise? To get a better position? To let your boss know you are a hard worker and want to do the best for the company? Of course you are. That is life. We will always be measured by what we do. From the earliest ages in sports, you are evaluated, not to make you feel bad but to make you BETTER. You are assigned a “number” in school in terms of a grade mark. There is honor roll that some make and some don’t. You will interview for jobs that you sometimes won’t get and someone else will. This is LIFE. And it’s really no different online. The only difference is that we can SEE everyone else’s success and failures. We can see who got the client and who didn’t. And when we, as USERS, start to measure our WORTH in those numbers, that is where the problem lies.
Now let’s take this a step further, how is social media ANY different than everything we see in magazines or on TV? We have been bombarded with “pretty” images our entire lives. People want to see the beauty…they want to see how to style a nice outfit or how to make a party look amazing or how to make the best tasting meal. Just because I style my recipes pictures with an extra napkin, a nice backdrop and some seeds thrown around doesn’t change the actual recipe or the realness of my meal. It’s just about trying to highlight that recipe in the BEST way possible.
I think where this all goes array is when we start basing our VALUE in those pictures. Or when we start COMPARING ourselves or feeling LESS THAN because someone has a better picture, a better body, a bigger following. THAT is the problem. The user is the issue, not social media itself. How you use it and how much stock you put into it is what will define your experience with social media.
What I think this girl has done is shed a HUGE light on the USERS of social media. She was 12 when she started. Maybe the conversation needs to be had about how young is too young to be on social media. None of this existed until I was long out of high school. Would it have shaped my high school experience differently? Maybe yes, maybe no. The truth is, I struggled with self-esteem issues back then without social media. And in a way, it’s probably a good thing that there wasn’t social media for me to turn to for that validation. I had to turn to God. I had to find my worth from Him and who He has created me to be. And THAT is what has shaped me, not the opinions of others.
I’m not going to say that social media isn’t a hard place to navigate. It is. But it’s because of the users story and interaction with it that makes it so hard.
I guess at the end of all of this, my honest thoughts are, if this girl struggles THAT much with social media, why doesn’t she just leave it all together and get the appropriate help to deal with the trauma of the last five years of her life. Someone needs to help this girl but sadly, I think what’s going to happen instead is that people are going to exploit her even more and she will rise to even more fame and in the end, without having dealt with the real, inner issues at heart, she will find herself in the same, if not worse place, a few years down the road. And that makes me sad.
Social media isn’t the problem, it’s the users. Let’s be real, not fake. Let’s inspire, not be jealous. Let’s encourage, not tear down. Let’s see posts for what they are and not look for validation beyond that.
As always, Love & Blessings,