Living in an age of technology, an age where people all across the world are connected, an age engulfed by social media, it seems possible for just about anyone to become famous. You no longer have to be a movie star or talented musician to have a well-known name… simply get a lot of followers on Instagram and
boom, insta-famous. With (what appears to be) the endless benefits of social media fame, the desire is understandable! But, at what point does this desire become an unhealthy obsession? Congesting our lives with purposeless thoughts about number of followers, number of ‘likes’ a pictures gets, the opinions of others, even the number of people that follow back. How many ‘likes’ and followers are enough to reach true happiness and contentment? After spending the past year managing ten social media accounts, I began to feel the effects, both good and bad, of social media and life in the spotlight.
Social media: “an addicting, habit forming substance that displays your life and a general reflection of your persona – – so of course you’re inclined to make it seem as perfect as possible.” A place where we are inclined to share details of our lives, and feel empowered by ‘likes’ and comments. A place that serves as entertainment and allows for connectivity across the globe. But also, a place that can, unfortunately, lead us to compare our lives, both the good parts and the rough parts, to the highlights of other people’s lives. Which begs the questions, does this truly bring happiness? Will one ever feel content?
Over the past year, I have spent many nights alone in hotel rooms, many days traveling hundreds of miles, and most of the time, it was days before I spent quality time with a loved one. It was an incredibly rewarding year in so many ways, yet there was an element of loneliness that I had never before experienced. Not knowing how to eliminate these strange feelings, I soon found myself spending more time on social media than ever before. The result was not immediately apparently, but rather, took weeks to wrap my head around. I eventually found myself actually having FOMO (fear of missing out)à What?! My current situation as Miss Kansas was amazing! Why in the world would I care about missing out on what other people are doing?? As though I was subconsciously comparing my life to the lives of others, simply based on social media posts. What I failed to realize initially: these photos/ posts were typically a representation of the highlights of other people’s lives, not the whole picture of their lives. Yet, I was subconsciously comparing them to my current situation- sitting alone in a hotel room. Boom, FOMO. And whether you realize it or not, there is a good chance you may be doing the exact same thing when you jump on social media.
Additionally, I found myself spending more time focusing on the image and brand I was portraying, and even the opinions of others: What will people think of me if I post this picture? How can I take a creative photo at this event that makes people think it is really cool? Now, one should be focused on their image and brand in general, for, what one posts today can have a ripple effect on their future. But there is a fine line between a mindful representation of oneself, and an obsession with portraying a certain image & worrying about the opinions of others. At the end of the day, why do their opinions matter? What benefit will come from having 1000 extra followers who n
ow know details about your life?
As a driven and very goal-oriented young woman, being in the spotlight was never a priority. But for a year, after working harder than ever and achieving a massive goal, I found myself in that spotliht… with a (literal) crown on my head. And in tow came an increase in followers, an increase of people who suddenly wanted to know about my life and what I had to say, companies who wanted to sponsor me, professional athletes who wanted to date me. This was a big change from my past, and honestly, it was exciting! But this increase in social media attention also came along with some negatives: occasional negative comments & judgments, congesting thoughts (which weren’t benefiting my life in positive ways) and even subconscious comparisons of my life to others. Weighing out the pros vs. the cons, does increased time & effort spent on social media truly increase one’s happiness and contentment with life? How much social media attention/ how many followers is enough? Are we ever truly satisfied? At what point does our time spent posting and reviewing social media posts become an unhealthy obsession? I love social media, but I have found that I love living life even more. What impact (positive and negative) has social media made on you?