Do not tell me I am the only one.
I take a photo in a scenic location, in my outfit of the day, complete with windblown hair and a faraway look. Then I post my picture on Instagram, complete with a humblebrag that sounds like this, “Bali’s wind is seriously too strong. Now my hair is all messed up”. Never mind that I look perfect (imho). Then I wait. And I wait. And I wait.
Only 23 likes?! What are my remaining 457 friends doing?! Why are they not liking my photos?!
Luckily for me, I am not the only one. Tips about how to get maximum attention and likes do not surface online if no one is interested in them. In case you are wondering what some of these tips are, let me just tell you that Friday and Saturday nights are not a good time to upload your photos on Facebook. Because no one has the time to check Facebook when there are parties to attend.
However, if like me, you find yourself bordering on being desperate, then maybe it is time to take a look at why you should cut down on your social media usage.
1. It makes us put up a front
That girl not getting many likes? Must be because she isn’t nice in real life and nobody likes her. That guy partying 3 times a week? Wow, he must be really popular. By making these assumptions, society draws itself into a vicious cycle of self-presentation and image-preservation. Now you think, I have to take more photos, if not otherwise how do I let people know my life is just as happy as my primary school classmate’s? And if that photo is not picture perfect, well then I have to retake. Until I get the right lighting, the right angle and the right expression. We forget that there is no need to let people know that you are a nice person living an exciting life. Or that you are way better looking in real life than you are in pictures.
2. It gives you FOMO
FOMO stands for Fear Of Missing Out. Researchers have found that people who report a high sense of social anxiety spend more time on Facebook. An explanation is that when you passively browse Facebook and see that everyone looks so happy and seems to be having so much fun… without you, it can trigger a sense of exclusion, envy and loneliness.
3. Comparison is the thief of joy
When we log on to websites such as Facebook and Instagram, we forget that we are seeing what other people want us to see. In other words, we are seeing the best aspects of their lives. Rarely does anyone document their break-ups with their significant other, their quarrels with friends and the boring home cooked food that they have to eat almost every meal. Because we forget that we are seeing a rather skewed picture of our friends’ lives and because we cannot help but compare, we become emotionally distressed to find that our lives fall short.
Research has shown that teenagers who reported engaging in more social comparison and feedback-seeking behaviour online, experienced more depressive symptoms after one year, even when accounting for earlier levels of depression.
However, I am not saying that you should swear off Instagram or Facebook for good. Social media can be a great place to document your life, to update your friends (cough cough those couples who announced that they are official on Instagram, I am looking at you) and to stalk people. However, remember that while real life overlaps with the virtual world, they are never entirely the same. Moreover, sometimes less is more. The less you reveal, the more people can wonder. So if you realise that social media is doing more harm than good to your emotional health, there is no shame in swearing off social media for a while. You mother will be so happy that she may just choose to reward you with insta-worthy home cooked food.