With the proliferation of social media sites, and flawless Instagram selfies circulating by the millions, never before has the lives of others been so disruptively displayed for the world to watch. It’s the age of socially acceptable voyeurism, and it’s changing the way you connect and view others.
While our feeds are constantly updated by our ‘friends’ highlight reel of vacations, designer outfits and perfectly angled self-portraits, you cannot help but compare, contrast and even feel a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out). We’re not just missing out on that party we were never invited to, or the grand romantic gestures we never received, we also feel a sense of missing out if we don’t appear just as flawless, fun, and popular as everyone else. Exhausting much?
Research has shown that people often feel envy, loneliness and generally worse about themselves after perusing their friends’ party pictures. More over, the latest study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, suggests that teens are more likely to engage in risky activities like smoking and drinking if they see their friends doing it in photos.
Our addiction to social voyeurism is affecting us whether we are conscious of it or not. Keeping up with the Jones’s has been replaced by our modern day version of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. There is a pressure to keep up flawless images of our picture-perfect selves and exciting lives. And when a majority of society participates in the charade, it affects our perception of reality, blurring the lines between authenticity and persona. It’s the selectively curated 20% of our lives that give the impression that we are bar starring, couture wearing, model befriending, foodie adventuring… all the time. (#guilty)
The issue is, the more we strive for filtered perfection, the more disconnected we become with our unfiltered humanness. And consequently, the more we feel ‘less than’ because we aren’t measuring up to the lives displayed digitally by our friends. It’s easy to forget that the brand portrayed by others leaves out the boring minutia of everyday, the feelings of loneliness, the tears, the pimples, the morning breath – the every day details that make up the 80% of our lives. The everyday things that make us all perfectly flawed, human beings.
This article isn’t to suggest that you now upload a slew of photos of yourself with food stuck in your teeth. In fact, curating your imagery choices and words can be a rather creative means of self-expression. Rather, just be mindful of what you post and most importantly how you consume what you see. Remember that people are watching, and while they’re at it, they’re also judging and emulating. Don’t forget that the most beautiful part of you is your humanness – and that essence isn’t necessarily best-served photoshopped, X-Pro filtered and hashtagged “me”.
Photo by: Panda