I'm sure you've read about the 19-year old model who "quit" social media to lead a real, authentic life. She felt tired of being paid to look hot and skinny, and how it ruled her life to the point of depression. Some people love the honesty. Some people feel it's just another ploy to get even more attention. Whatever that model's goals were though it's still an interesting story and something worth thinking about!
Social media is not intrinsically evil. It's just a tool, like a knife or a lighter. You can use a knife to cut food; you can use a knife to stab people. You can use a lighter to make a fire to cook and feel warm over; you can use it to burn houses down. You can use social media to nurture yourself and inspire people (vice versa); you can use it to show off your superior life purely for fame and money. I kind of feel silly saying this out loud because it's obvious, but it's how you use social media and how you let it affect you that makes it a positive or negative force in your life.
I've already discussed Instagram envy here before. There was a period when I felt bad about my life because I didn't have a great body, or the perfect home, travel any time I feel like, or go to the coolest events. I felt poor, lazy, ugly, and a waste of space. I'm not kidding. That was a really low point for me a year ago. I felt like I needed to compete with them, that the only way I can get my self-worth back was to show that I have what they have.
But thankfully the spell didn't last long. I was able to realize that Instagram envy can be a good thing. I can choose to be miserable, or choose to be inspired. To take it one step further, I can choose to inspire in any way I can.
So what I did was to unfollow everybody whom I felt were not the right role models for me. The rich kids spending their parents' money, the famous kids riding on their parents' fame, the bloggers/influencers who had images, lifestyles, and incomes to maintain - everyone who didn't add information, inspiration, and joy to my life went away. It was so easy! I felt instantly better after.
What was left were my friends, brands I actually care about (personally or for work), and women who are fabulous and have inspiring careers. My Twitter feed is full of news bites and random friends who still Tweet. I also discovered that Instagram in particular has an active artist community so now I follow LOADS of cool ones all over the world! I love waking up to their art every day since they usually come out in the AM Manila time.
On Facebook, I only follow people who share articles and videos that are thoughtful and credible. Anybody who likes posting trash are unfollowed mercilessly. (Unfriending is serious shit so I don't do that often!)
Now, Instead of social media making me miserable, it's now a highly-curated place for me to cull information, inspiration, and joy from. I love checking my accounts, although to be honest I feel I check it too much and should budget a chunk of that time elsewhere. That's another story, haha.
What about my own posts? I try to make them as informative, inspiring, and joyful as I can. I post my finds, quick reviews, recipes, tennis practice, and memories I want to look back on. I still have to post promotional material because of the nature of my job, but I try to keep it in line with my own interest and lifestyle.
A quick scan of my Instagram shows that my life is awesome - not because I'm making it awesome for you or to compete with them, but because it's how I choose (and am luckily able) to live. I work hard for what I have. To say that "social media is not real life" is only true if what you post is not real life. I honestly don't like posting unflattering pictures of myself because yes, I'm conscious about my hair and chubby bits, but that's about it. What you see there is the most interesting parts of my life. Often boring, often exciting, but never one where I hide behind something else so I can make myself look more impressive than I am.
Is my Instagram feed representative of most of my life? Maybe I share about 20% of it there. I feel I should share more, to be honest, but I often forget to take or post pictures because I'm busy being where I am.
I don't want to throw away time, money, and my own happiness just so I can get more followers. I refuse to measure my self-worth based on how many likes I get. Instead I try to learn and see as much as I can afford, and perhaps you'll get some sort of value out of my journey to fuel yours.
There is so much to accomplish. Having an Instagram-perfect life is the least of it.