Saturday, January 17, 2015

My thoughts on Social Media & Anxiety

I remember my first foray into social media well, I was living in Scotland, it was the early noughties and I was logging onto Bebo.

At the time, I thought it was great, I added pictures, stuck in some of my likes and dislikes and didn't really give a thought about who was looking at my profile. I would literally just log onto the family computer after school and then get on with my everyday life.

I had a mobile phone at that time, (who didn't?) but it's capacity was literally limited to making calls and sending a text message which meant that it pretty much lived in my bag.

Fast forward 10 years or so and almost everyone is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and surgically attached to their mobile or tablet. I mean literally attached to their phone; checking it every 5 minutes as though the world will cease to end.

Facebook is full of photos of friends and family all primped and primed to perfection. Each picture more perfectly polished than the last with a vast array of filters added to give the most flattering of finishes. If you happen to be 'tagged' in a less than flattering photo it's fine, don't panic, because with one click of a button any trace of you looking less than your best will vanish into the either and social media will be none the wiser.

Instagram is much the same; beautifully coiffed hair, white beaches, designer handbags and luxury restaurants.

Just thinking about it is exhausting, I mean who has the time to look THAT good everyday? 

Those Louboutins that look and are expensive, make your little Primark numbers looks positively shabby. Why can't you afford those?

Isn't it the third time that so and so have been on holiday this year? The extent of my travel one year was Brighton and back at the princely sum of £38 for two.

It seems that with the rise of Social Media, our expectations of each other and of our own lives increase with it. Please note the use of the word expectations rather than the word aspirations.

We need to remember that Social Media only gives us a glimpse of a person. As a good friend of mine once said, Social Media is effectively someone else's highlight reel. For example, check out the photo below.
What you're not seeing is that numerous attempts to get that shot just right. Nor the 2 hours I spent in the hairdressers that afternoon, or the hour and half I spent in John Lewis having my make-up professionally applied (let alone the fact I was actually on crutches but that's by the by.)
Even the recent 'no make-up' trend will have involved some element of staging, be it some flattering light and a perfect angle to catch that person at their absolute best. No one wakes up looking that good.
That rocking body your seeing, that probably took an absolute ton of hard work, diet, exercise and a heck of a lot of time and sacrifice. There have been many a time when I myself have been working out to the point I feel like I'm about to vomit (I know, TMI). My point being, a good body doesn't happen overnight, it takes work. The photos you see on Social Media are the best bit, the end result after months of training.

That friend who is constantly on holiday is either a) incredibly lucky, b) incredibly well paid or c) is heavily dependent on the bank of mum and dad and is sunning it up with her folks as we speak. I'm human, when I hear about exotic holidays planned by my friends I get incredibly envious!

What we see on Social Media is only a snapshot, it doesn't give us the whole picture. Your friends on Social Media do not translate into friends in the real world. Most people liking all those photos or posts probably only know that person in passing and only speak to them via the internet. Those people would never be there in the event of an actual emergency.

We need to stop comparing ourselves and our lives to those we see online. Going on those holidays and spending £1000 on a handbag will not get you a ton of friends overnight, nor will it make you happier. Think of Social Media as an ego trip; the more you log on and take notice, the bigger it's head is going to get.

I do realise there is some irony here in me being a blogger but as I'm sure you've noticed, my Social Media presence isn't really huge. I really don't like plugging myself on Twitter or Facebook but know that it is necessary and I will never truly be successful until I do this. 

The thought of doing this makes me incredibly uncomfortable. In all honesty if people enjoy reading my blog and like my writing style then that's great, I'm content plodding along. Please do take note though, everything you see on here takes time and effort to look the way it does. To prove my point here are some blooper shots.

I hope you've enjoyed my post, please do feel free to chip in your two cents below.


  1. I feel exactly the same.
    I met a group of bloggers and spent the whole journey worrying that I would be judged in a bad light. But the reality was it was all just fine! A lot of these pictures are staged/photoshopped/fake bags etc but they still leave us feeling a inch high. The blogger having the most fun is the natural one...

    1. I spotted Hello October once in Covent Garden, but I was so nervous, I didn't say hello and now I'm kicking myself, I was far to self conscious and just worrying about everything.

      I can imagine if I was meeting any readers, I'd be equally nervous and conscious that I didn't quite live up to their expectation...which on some level is totally ridiculous.

      I try not to portray anything too staged on the blog, I think in some of my photos there's an element of realness there, I tend to look a little uncomfortable, my hair is always a wee bit crazy and I certainly don't own anything crazy expensive.

      I myself need to learn to just accept me for me and stop comparing myself to everyone else, I'll be much happier that way.

      With hindsight, this entire response is just waffle eh?

  2. Laura - this is such a refreshing and timely post for the new year. As we're all evaluating our lives and setting new goals, it's nice to step back and remember not to compare ourselves or assume that the lives projected on social media are realities. I know that I curate my content to represent the positive moments and memories in my life. If I'm going to catalog it, I want to record the highlights. The downs stick with me enough as is. But I agree that what we see on social media encourages competition and comparison. Like you, I wonder if taking different steps might make me a more successful blogger. But at the same time, I'm more interested in being true to myself and creating my own safe space to share what I love than I am at having a huge following or income. I definitely feel like you keep it real and share your passions in an approachable, genuine way.

    I loved this post, as it's something I've needed to hear as I've been making plans and setting goals for myself this year. Rule #1: Stay True to Myself. Let everything fall into place from there.

    <3 Liz

    1. I totally agree with what you've said there Liz, on my blog, I don't want to remember all of my lows, I want to look back and thing to myself "see you can look good," and "oh remember that one time you totally rocked that outfit," I don't want to see a ton of terrible photos.

      I do try and keep things fairly 'real' on the blog, my photos certainly aren't perfect and I know in some of my OOTD posts, you can tell I'm a wee bit uncomfortable in front of the camera and trying to find my stride. The confidence and the attitude of generally not giving two hoots will no doubt come with time and age.

      I think this post was, in some ways, me trying to give myself advice as I do tend to look at peoples social media and wish I was in their shoes, not that I don't love my life, but sometimes other people just LOOK as though they have things so frikken easy!

      But, like I say, I know that's not the reality. I would like to have more Bloglovin followers and more twitter subscribers but I kinda happy just knowing people are clicking through and reading. The interaction will come with time.

      Laura xx


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