“How did your photo do yesterday?”
“Not very good, didn’t even reach 100, but I posted it at a bad time”
“Delete it and post it again tomorrow!”
“Yeah, I should probably wait until prime time, probably around 7”
Is any of this familiar because I feel like these exact words have come out of my mouth several times in the last couple months. When did “prime time” mean something other than television? Why do I feel inadequate if my photo did not do as well as I expected? How do I know that photos with myself in it will get the most likes? WHY DO I CARE ABOUT ANY OF THIS?!
The story goes: take a million photos of the same thing, edit the crap out of it, post it online on some kind of forum and then await the validation.
And it comes. It really does. I wish I could say it doesn’t, but it does. When I reach that 100th like, or I get more than 5 comments, my confidence soars. I feel like the baddest bitch around, a girl that can conquer anyone and anything. I feel wittier (even though it took me 20 minutes to come up with that caption, with the help of my friends in the group chat), I feel cuter in my outfit (even though all of it is borrowed and took me forever to put together, making me late for work), and I just generally feel like a better version of myself.
But the kicker is, I do feel like these things even when I haven’t just posted a photo on Facebook or Instagram. I feel witty when I make my best friend laugh, I feel cute on my way to the gym (weird, I know), and I feel like a better version of myself when I plan a great event at work and I can see my hard work paying off. How do we hold on to these sentiments without feeling the need to post?
With a balance, I think that social media validation is not necessarily a bad thing. If you’re feeling yourself and you want to share the world, post a photo! Or better yet, post your photo and then go meet a friend for coffee. If you like a quote, post a screenshot of it and then go tell someone how much it spoke to you!
I think that when social media becomes your only source of validation, there is an issue. If you turn to social media to fix your problems, I think that’s an issue. Ideally, we’d all like to be able to pull ourselves out of the self-esteem hole and feel confident all the time. This is not realistic, we need other people to help us. Just make sure those people are your close friends and family, rather than that girl that you followed three years ago, have never met, but you like all of each other’s photos.
I think another good idea is to try and view social media for what it is. I wrote a post a couple years ago about the truth behind my social media and I stand by my points that I made then. Social media is not always what it looks like, no one’s life is that perfect.
Once you realize that, you won’t feel the pressure to post every two days, at the perfect time with the perfect outfit. You can go back to enjoying social media without resenting it.
I will still post my selfies, outfits and photos with friends on my Instagram. I will still edit my photos until I am happy with it, but I won’t place the primary source of my validation on it. It’s fun to get likes, it’s fun to get comments, but they aren’t everything. Once you take the pressure off, you can use social media in a healthy way. I love taking photos, I love editing them and I love posting them, none of that will change, but my perspective definitely has.