I am on social media a lot.
Recently I admitted to myself that I am addicted to it. That I spend way too much time on it. That it is taking over my life and turning me into an automaton. Yes my eldest has yelled at me numerous times to put my phone down. And yes, I’ve written before about how allowing kids screen time is madness, and yet here I am, admitting that I am addicted to social media. Hypocritical much?
I told myself that I actually do “work” on there (I am the editor/creator of the IG The Modest Bride) and that it’s a way to pass the time. But I think what really pushed me to realise its true nature (Instagram in particular) is consciously admitting that ALL social media is the most pernicious form of advertising. And IT’S KILLING MY SOUL.It’s emptying my bank account. It’s making me anxious and making me feel like somehow my life is inadequate because I don’t have all the eco-conscious, organic, ethical, MINIMALIST THINGS in my life.
Oh the irony.
Or because my children don’t wear perfectly matching and boho, minimalist, stylish clothing and I can’t take Insta-worthy pictures of them in beautiful, natural settings like at a beach or a forest or some hipster cafe BECAUSE I CAN’T GET OUT OF THE HOUSE WITH THREE KIDS.
I scroll through my feed and see one beautiful image after another of perfect children in hip (and expensive) clothes in shades of dusty pinks, autumnal hues of brown and linen greys playing in beautiful rooms of pastel shades with THAT DAMN CANOPY (it’s so pretty though…) and vintage style bed with the same grey bed sheets and the same soft toys and wooden accents and fiddle leaf fig trees with kilim rugs and string lighting and cute wall art of strange and slightly creepy circus figures? Because all kids dream happily about the circus right?
And when I hit the image I can conveniently see where all these beautiful products are from and I find myself on a slippery slope from there… I go onto this company’s IG page, click on their website and before I know it my virtual cart is full of beautiful children’s dresses, soft toys, wooden toy cameras, ethically made children’s shoes and organic flower bath stuff, so that their rooms and their clothes and my house and my life can look like a beautiful Instagram feed from some perfectly put together Instagram Mother.
And whilst this isn’t a conscious thought, it is an underlying subconscious impression that imprints itself on our minds as we scroll through our feeds day in, day out.
What is also disturbing is that everyone’s lives are starting to look the same. Instagram is promoting an aesthetically beautiful (not denying this!) monoculture. Go through any number of Instagram Mother pages and you’ll find that they all look identical. They’ve all perfected the flat-lay with the ultimate prop- their baby- dressed perfectly in cute rompers and vintage style bonnets (which my two year old flat out refuses to wear when I tried to get her on board so she could look IG WORTHY) with some cute toys surrounding them (I just did this myself today lol), and throw in some flowers too, and those new dummy chains that company sent for free so you can add them onto your list of sponsors to advertise and market by sharing every detail of you and your children’s lives for the rest of the world to consume. Oh and under this perfect image of your house and free stuff you’ve been given, have a caption that shares in intimate detail your struggles so that you can ensure that people don’t think that picture is an accurate depiction of your life and so that you are #keepingitreal. There is such a thing as oversharing, and I feel like in the name of ‘normalising’ things, everyone is just sharing too much. It’s one thing to share experiences with the intention of bringing awareness to an issue, and it’s another to simply overshare details that really should be kept private. In the social media world, privacy is the enemy, sharing is the name of the game.
So what is social media really all about?
Instagram is a genius form of marketing which businesses use to push their products in a manner that is incredibly dangerous. We see their products in the lives of “normal” people, who can pick up a camera and create such beautiful images of themselves and their children so much so that people will buy the exact same things so that their lives can look like that too.
Also, I feel that it is totally putting a halt to originality and creativity. Because of Instagram and Pinterest, we see hundreds of images a day and they all look the same, and we copy and emulate those images. When it comes time to do something different, we can’t, because we’ve been so influenced by the imagery put out there and we literally can’t envision something new and unique.
Friends that I have spoken to recently have also aired the same concerns and have admitted that it makes them feel inadequate, and that it results in overspending. They have deleted their accounts and their IG apps from their phones.
I have also been using it less and less, only uploading what is necessary and not scrolling through my feed. For a time I didn’t login at all, and it felt so… calm. I felt peace. No longer did I have a niggling need to check it. I didn’t feel anxious. I called my friends and caught up with them. I cleaned my house. I did some reading. I spent proper time with my children. It cleared my mind of all those images cluttering my psyche and I was able to just have time to reflect and ponder and have gratitude for everything I did have.
So if you’re on IG or Facebook, I suggest taking a break and seeing how that goes for you. Trust me, you’re not missing anything, in fact you will gain so much from it and realise that you do not need it at all.
Here are two incredible analyses of social media and their effects: