Social Media: an alternate reality.

“How can you be skint? You never go out, I never see you post anything.”

A simple sentence from a conversation I had with someone a while back that has stuck with me. I use social media a fair amount. Normally to see what everyone else is doing when I’m bored. I am not, and have never been, one to post every aspect of my life on social media, yes I enjoy a good Facebook post, or Instagram pic, but I don’t post everything I do in my life on social media. Call me old-fashioned but I like to save some stuff for myself, and, if giving up Facebook for lent at the beginning of the year taught me one thing it’s that, it’s actually great to give your full attention to people you are with, rather than talking to them whilst also thinking about the perfect status update to tell your virtual friends how much fun you’re having.

Since I had that conversation I have thought about that comment a lot. It’s got me to thinking. How much is too much? As in, how much is too much to share on Social media?

We all have those friends who use social media like a diary, there are four or five (at least) status updates a day, a constant stream of ‘check ins’ and photos so we can see how much they are loving life. There are those that use social media to post their dirty laundry which I secretly love because, well, I’m a nosy bitch, those that use it to tell us when their child has coughed, or smiled or done a poo “Oh my god, Bitsy just took her first poo on the toilet!!” seriously, stop with these status’ no one other than you cares about that shit – pun intended. There is that couple that has been together for minutes but has already dropped the ‘L’ word all over your news feed “I have the best boyfriend in the world. I love you so much, baby!!!” – again, stop it. You’ve been together for 2 minutes take a seat. Then at the other end of the spectrum there are those users that rarely post anything – even though you know they are lurkin’ in the background silently stalking and judging. How do you find the balance of ‘just enough’? Only you can really answer that for yourself but if most of your timeline is full of your own posts you’re definitely on the ‘too much’ end of the scale. Same goes for those that post more than 3 status updates a day (and I’m being generous when I say 3).

The incessant stream of ‘loving life’ posts and photos has made us obsessed with creating the ‘perfect’ life. You go out on a Saturday night to a club, there is a 99% chance that the majority of those there will be, or will have, taken 101 pictures on Snapchat to show their friends all the ‘LOLs’, they’ve then Instagrammed those photos (while spending time making sure they use the correct filter). It seems we spent more time posting about what we’re doing than actually doing it, living it. This narcissistic behavior is laughable but more than anything this makes me kind of sad. When did we become so unhappy with our real lives that we feel the need to ‘edit’ it? When did it become normal to compare our life to the lives of people we haven’t spoken to since year 11?

I was speaking with someone recently who was talking about their relationship and how seeing what other couples do on social media has left them feeling not 100% satisfied in their relationship. My response? Social media isn’t real! No one is going to post about that slanging match they had the night before because someone left wet towels on the bathroom floor again. No one is going to share a photo of themselves when they go to the local greasy spoon for the hangover breakfast – they take a photo of food instead.

It is so easy to fake everything on social media; relationships, partying, fitness, food, travelling… it’s not all glamorous. We just want everyone else to think it is.

There is no perfect relationship – everyone argues. The partying photos are always at the beginning of the night, not of the drama in the toilet with one friend with her head in the loo because she had 1 too many jagers and another crying over that guy she went on one date with back in 1947 who she has seen here with another girl. The gym and healthy food posts that make us all feel like a big tub of lard (only me?) – those people are looking for approval. If they were really 100% with what they looked like wouldn’t feel the need to post everyday about their gym workouts and comparing your fitness lifestyle to others’ isn’t fair to you or them. We all have different bodies, lives and priorities, and no one is going to display the worst of that for the world to see. I would also bet my left foot that greek yoghurt girl has stuffed her face with chocolate eclairs at least once in the last few months.

Travelling is only glamorous in retrospect. Being stuck in a big tin can for hours on end with recycled air leaves your skin dry, hair gross and body achy. No one wants to see a picture of me grumpy, hair all over the place, red –eyed from tiredness, so I’ll wait for a few days to acclimatize myself to the time change and then give you a perfectly filtered picture of me and my pals, drink in hand watching an amazing sunset.

So maybe, just maybe it’s time we throw a little reality back into social media. Or we can carry on pretending, but we’re going to have to start changing that witty tagline to something more fitting. And next time you see that someone has uploaded the ‘perfect selfie’ just remember there are 100 of the same photos on their camera roll that didn’t make the cut.

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