Social media has many benefits. It makes it easier to claim you’re friends with someone who has achieved something incredible, despite not talking to them for many years. It makes it easier to blow up your moderately impressive achievement into something it’s quite simply not. And it’s the best place to lay your respects/mock dead animals, especially gorillas (RIP Harambe).
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Social media makes me miserable.
I can’t help myself. I wake up in the morning and I take a scroll through them all; Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram. ‘Oh look – Brian has changed his profile picture to one of him and his new girlfriend of 15 hours’. How lovely. ‘Did you see Chloe went to that gig in the city last night? It must have been good it was all over her Snapchat!’
But, I check diligently. Every morning without fail, I’ll be having a look, checking that group chat which includes people I’ve barely met and couldn’t care less about. But they offer an opinion, or they tell me about their amazing night out; I’ll care then.
It’s a vicious cycle, and one that is ridiculously hard to break. We feel the need to be so involved so we don’t miss out, but so often we see posts from other people and feel like we are missing out. The term ‘peacocking’ is being used increasingly to describe the way people brag and show themselves in a favourable light online. And it is 100% accurate.
The result in all of this is that we end up judging people based on their online actions before we have even met them in the flesh. And that makes me sad. In addition to this, the pressures we increasingly face over body image online make me question the entire point of social media. What are we really gaining from this all? And are the benefits really worth it?
It’s completely true we learn more about the world thanks to social media. But, we also learn all the bad things in the world. Would I not be happier not knowing about it? Would I not be happier if I was apathetic?
I’ve tried, on several occasions, to take a day, an evening, even just a few hours away from social media. No apps, no websites, nothing. It’s hard, it’s really hard. It has become such an important and present part of our lives that getting rid of it, even for a short space of time, seems to be near impossible.
I always thought the end of civilisation would be caused by something relatively cool like aliens or a return of the dinosaurs. But it’s not. We’ll kill ourselves with our inflated sense of self-importance.