Do you ever just sit and stare at your reflection for hours on end? Not in a narcissistic ‘oh-my-who’s-that-hot-piece’ kind of a way, but just pondering who you are. Even as I’m writing this, I’m sitting on the floor in front of a mirror – just in case I come to some amazing realisation about what kind of person I am.
I think social media has made me like this.
THE AGE OF JUDGEMENT
I don’t like photos of people that are posed and revealing and are obviously intended for someone other than me. It makes me feel uncomfortable and almost voyeuristic. But then I panic – does this make me a prude? Is that who I am now?
I only post images of me that are nice and fun and I try and use a funny caption so I don’t seem like one of those people - but does that make me awkward? Old-fashioned? Is that somehow worse than being next to naked in a field or on a beach doing an unhinged-looking pose – would that be better, almost?
At one point in my life, during my first year at university, the importance of aesthetics in this world really started to get to me. Particularly as a young woman I felt as though my value depended on my appearance. And, from this point, it’s impossible not to compare yourself to others, others that might be deemed “better” or “worse” than you, because of how they look in comparison.
Isn’t that just gut-wrenching? That, even now, in our vibrant, more inclusive, society that women (in particular - but also men) are being valued primarily on what they look like. What about intellect? Creativity? Humor? All those colourful, beautiful qualities that make the world just that bit better? Are we inevitably headed for an Earth devoid of anything but a division between the beautiful and the ugly?
TAKING A STEP BACK
I am only just getting the freedom from this headspace now, but for a while it felt like I was wound in a tight webb of comparison and judgement where the mirror didn’t reflect me but it reflected my self-hatred.
I went through phases of intense exercising and phases of not leaving bed until 7pm, not having a single meal or talking to anyone. I saw my personal value in one dimension. I still do, to an extent.
I’ve moved away from the mirror now.
What brought this all on was looking through my instagram feed. Merrily scrolling, feeling dandy and cheery, only to be brought down once more. Analysing every caption. Critiquing every image and every angle of myself. So I decided to stop and try to write something, even a scrambled version of my thoughts – like this.
I GUESS WHAT I'M TRYING TO SAY IS:
The way you present yourself online isn’t you – your personality cannot be distilled into a Facebook profile, a Twitter account or a collection of photos on Instagram.
Likewise - the way other people present themselves online isn’t them – everything is manicured, every angle is just that; an angle - the perception of a person that they want you to share.
It’s easy to get existential and down about these things – but they’re probably here to stay, and awareness of the toxins of social media is on the rise.
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