Gemma Styles | Contributing writer | Saturday, 18 March 2017

Gemma Styles: Instagram Does Not Equal Achievement

Gemma Styles: Instagram Does Not Equal Achievement

The Debrief: Let's be real: constantly seeing the top drawer moments that people choose to share can easily give us a distorted sense of other people's achievement.

As much as it is real people, social media (as we all know) does not always equal real life. I mean with the amount of people defrauding and catfishing their way through life it doesn't always mean real people either... anyway, my point is that the online world isn't necessarily an accurate reflection of our lives - but this is easy to forget. 

Understandably, social media is prime stomping ground for pride. It isn't the most fun to post online when you've lost your job or your budgie is sick or you put a red sock in your white wash - but when you've finished your dissertation, found a fiver or redecorated your whole flat for sixty quid then why not tell people about it! We all want to seem like successful, vibrant people. Even though we know all this, it's still an effort to remind ourselves that as much as our own lives are censored, the same is true for everyone else; constantly seeing the top drawer moments that people choose to share can easily give us a distorted sense of other people's achievements.

This isn't to say that other people's achievements are bad, of course; there's no reason why they shouldn't celebrate and why you shouldn't be happy for them, it's just that watching others do well has a strange tendency to feel like we're lagging behind.

I started thinking about this a few weeks ago, having a long overdue catch up with a friend. When asked what I'd been up to in the past year I was like, hmm not much really! On further probing and actual thought, however, there were a lot more things I'd been happy about, it's just not necessarily stuff that I'd be posting on Instagram, you know?

I feel like these days unless things have been announced formally to the masses it's like they're not as important. I suppose it depends on how much you share with people generally - I think I'm a reasonably open person online in my day to day life but this doesn't always extend to bigger life decisions (or what I'm having for lunch). It's a weird pressure deciding how much you're meant to tell people. I always feel like I'm supposed to be posting more but often I just don't think about it. If I'm sat at home working on a Tuesday and don't leave the house all day, what am I going to be posting about? 

Essentially this makes me feel like I shouldn't be sat at home all day and I should have something more interesting to say. It probably wouldn't be the worst thing for me to get out of the house, even if I am working... but I like working at home. There's tea and cereal that doesn't cost me seven pounds a pop, always a free seat near a laptop charger and my cat can play outside cos the door is open - at what point do we actually start to alter our day to day routines, away from our own preferences, purely to satisfy the expectation of the media masses?

Basically I always come back to a certain indignation about the way social media can make me feel. I'm sure I'm not alone in it, but constantly seeing people announcing their new jobs, new wardrobes, interviews, puppies, plants (that they actually manage to keep alive, by the way)... There needs to be a post-it note stuck on my fridge that says 'Instagram is not life' - but then Instagram is life, often. It's just not all of life, and doesn't show all of the things you've accomplished in life. That's just a bit harder to fit on the post-it.

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Follow Gemma on Twitter @GemmaAnneStyles

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