Social Media Inspiration is Actually Conformity
[originally published August 27 2019]
How often do you let others control what you do? More specifically, how does social media influence your actions and thoughts? It might be weird that myself, a self-proclaimed influencer, is discussing the pitfalls of social media on our ability to be uniquely ourselves. However, I do believe that apps like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat all can dictate our lives and how we act. The worst part is that we allow them to do so.
Years ago, I used to love Snapchat. I used to really like posting a ton of live updates on my story because all of my friends and peers did the same. This was during the late high school/very early college era. Let's be real - so many people post live updates on all forms of social media. It is fun and entertaining to watch your friends live their everyday lives (but, with a twist! The twist is that they're filming everything).
I noticed that I was constantly worrying about pulling out my phone. I felt that I needed to document everything or 'it didn't really happen.' How could I enjoy all of life's little joys and random events if I was so worried about filming it all? It was like I was addicted to sharing my 'story.' Truly, I didn't need to prove to anyone that the little mishaps in my life were so interesting. After I stopped being paranoid about live-updating everything, I learned that there was peace in the anonymity that now surrounded my everyday life. My life is my life and it's okay if no one knows about every single detail of it. That also means that it's okay if I don't know every single detail of anyone else's.
If you think about it, we must distance ourselves from the content we're fed on social media. We don't have to stop scrolling (although offline time is very important!) but we need to notice when our interests and needs are conflicted by what we see online. When we view the details, both small and large, of others' lives, we fall into a natural habit of human nature. We compare ourselves to others while unconsciously desire to 'fit in.' Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs talks about this further - do a quick Google search if you haven't heard of it! As humans, we have social needs that impact the way we act and think. Conforming to others is natural, but it's become so common nowadays that it's hard to know who we really are as people. Social media influences us to conform to others and hide our differences. It's our differences, however, that make us human - they make us unique and they bring beauty into the world.
As a body-positive advocate, I can tell you that every 'body' is uniquely beautiful. But, there are more qualities to people than just their physical appearances. We learn from one another to talk a certain way, act a certain way, dress a certain way, and even think a certain way. I suppose the only way to know who we are as individuals is to consciously become aware of when we acquire traits from others. We must spend time recognizing who we are at the beginning of the month versus who we are at the end of the month. What changes? It's okay to learn new traits from others as long as you agree with them. You don't have to adopt every new fashion trend just like you don't have to participate in every new 'challenge.' Learn what's best for YOU. Keeping up with others only subtracts from the beauty of our own selves. And of course, the most interesting and influential people in this world don't conform. That's what makes them so interesting and successful.