A Curated Life; Thoughts on Social Media

Instagram is probably my most used social media account. I recent got rid of Facebook again, because I find it insufferable and dull, but something about Instagram is hard to stay away from. However as I was doing my obligatory morning scroll through my feed today, I got increasingly disheartened and I’m considering taking a break from all social media altogether.

I follow quite a few different accounts. Some are for sewing, some for shopping, some for art, some for travel, and some because I just think the girls who own the accounts are pretty, and my homosexual heart is a sucker for a nice face. Many of these photos that come up that look so beautiful, are posed and edited and, in a lot of cases, fake. But it’s easy to forget that. It’s easy to look at all these carefully curated photos and think “why doesn’t my life look like that?” Comparatively, I feel like I’m a dull, grey person in a world full of shiny bright people and I can’t help but occasionally feel a bit boring. Which is, of course, no fault of the other account holders.

Let’s be honest here; many photos uploaded to social media are altered to appear better. That is the very nature of the beast, after all. And it’s easy to forget that the facade people put forward to the world only shows the happy shiny pieces of their lives that they want to share. It rarely discusses, in an open and honest way, about the other half of life. The struggles, the anxieties, the being awake at 3 in the morning and wondering if you’ll ever be good enough. Ok, so maybe not everyone feels that way, but my point stands.

We average people – that is to say, those of us who aren’t fantastic photographers, and have no idea how to edit a photo – must not appear very interesting in comparison. Where other accounts show a series of colour coordinated images and carefully posed and timed shots, my account is a cacophony of random images that I’ve shot very unprofessionally on my phone camera. Where they have an ‘aesthetic’, I have whatever I’ve taken a photo of at the time. Where they constantly dress in gorgeous clothing (often times made by companies they’re being sponsored by), I’m over here decked head to toe in K-Mart.

Sewing, books, Brooklyn 99…this is my life

I sometimes get caught up in the fantasy of social media, because it’s hard not to. All these accounts, many of which use their influence as their sole source of income, their entire purpose is to be beautiful. Because no one wants to see ‘ugly’ things on social media. But maybe if it was more realistic, more natural, then the supposed ugliness of being an everyday human being wouldn’t appear so different, or so uninteresting.

The thing is, life doesn’t have a filter. There’s no Photoshop application for the way you see the world, no cropping out the unhappy things, no turning up the saturation on a bleak outlook. Life is a mess. But at least it’s real, and I’ll take the messy real world over the bright, clean, designer world of social media any day.

Request Denied

My Instagram profile is set to private. I am not a public figure, a famous person, or even the slightest bit interesting to anyone who doesn’t know me. Or probably to the people who do know me, to be honest. So I’m always a little taken aback when I get the notification “this perfect stranger wants to follow you”.

The idea behind social media is literally in the name; to be social, to connect, to engage with other people. I myself follow many people I don’t personally know but in those cases, it was either a direct link from a blog or YouTube video, encouraging followers, or the profiles are public and heavily focused on things I have an interest in. I follow profiles of writers, fellow bloggers, musicians and people who share the same music tastes, sewists, artists, the odd nude model, witchy folk…but many of those profiles I’ve found on the Instagram discover feed, and are intended to gain followers.

Something like this blog is different. It’s a form of social media, sure, but the whole point of a blog site is to have people read what you’re putting out there. If having a private profile were an option here, how could anyone find other writers/bloggers they like to read. But on an app entirely based on photos, there’s a reason having a private profile is an option, and many reasons why mine is not public.

I, and my private profile, am not all that fascinating. Especially, I imagine, to the influx of people wanting to follow me lately. For example, as a misanthropic, anti-religious, perpetually angry heathen, I know I wouldn’t appeal to the three very openly Christian people who have requested to follow me recently. When one’s bio reads “consistently seeking to better myself for the Lord” I can guarantee that my blatant skepticism and disapproval of organized religion would be an affront to their delicate sensibilities. My own bio reads “I geek, I create, I don’t trust garden gnomes.” which I suppose might be enough to pique the curiosity of a stranger? Who knows.

I know that I often get a string of follow requests just after I’ve followed a new page. There’s probably some technological reason for that, which is beyond my understanding of the app. And of course, there’s always the spam profiles that I decline instantly. I’m not concerned with my number of followers. Unlike some, I could care less whether I have ten or ten thousand. So I feel no urge to accept every request to boost my numbers, and rather become increasingly perplexed by the sheer amount of them. To reiterate; I am not interesting. I don’t even have a cute pet…yet.

The paranoiac in me can’t help the wariness that surges up when I see that notification. I confess, more than once I’ve thought “who are you, why do you want to follow me, are you going to steal my identity?!” But then of course, the rational part of my brain says “shut up, you idiot, and just decline.” Which I then promptly do, to almost every stranger. Request, denied.

The Insidious Nature of Social Media

Social media is like a poltergeist. It’s malicious and sneaky and sometimes frightening. And pushy. So, so pushy.

Earlier this year I deactivated my Facebook and became largely inactive on all other social media sites I’m subscribed to. It was amazing how much better I felt without that (in my case) mostly unwanted connection to the world. The useless nature of social media for me was rendered void, because I no longer had the apps taking up space in my phone.

After a few blissful months, I succumbed to a weak, stupid idea that perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad to get my social media back up and running. And then it all came flooding back, like some kind of tidal wave of awfulness. There were all the useless posts; I don’t care that you’ve taken a trip to the supermarket and can’t decide what to have for dinner – and why is it that you need to share such a mundane detail with the world anyway? I went through a series of culls, unfollowing almost my entire friend list. If you bore me or annoy me, chances are I will have unfollowed you ages ago. Then there were the pointless tests; taking a test to find out which minor character from the third Harry Potter book you are most like on a Wednesday afternoon is not my idea of a fun way to spend my time. And let’s not forget all those stupid click bait articles; “this high school student took on a ten foot chicken in down town London and you won’t believe what happened next!” yeah. And I also don’t care.

It tries to keep you “connected”, which I understand is the point. But I think we should be allowed to connect when, and with whom, we want, without the pressure to make everyone happy by announcing our presence. Yesterday I got a notification from my sewing page connected to Facebook that demanded I write a post. Excuse me, Facebook, but I will post when I like and no more or less frequently. You can take your demands and shove them firmly up your Zuckerberg.

It’s so strange to me how much time we dedicate to keeping connected with the world. If you can even call it that. We’re more interested in a screen than a face and a conversation. I’m guilty of it too, and I don’t even like most social media. So why do we do it? What is so entertaining about wasting our lives in front of screens? I’m seriously considering taking it all down again. I rarely use Facebook myself anyway, only checking it occasionally when I get a high enough volume of notifications. Which in my case can easily take a month. In fact, the two sites I use the most are this blog, and Instagram. Which is in large part, due to the cool creators that I follow, because I love all the inspiration and creation I get to see.

I’m not social in real life, so social media itself has very little value or merit for me. It’s creepy, and irritating and a significant waste of space. But that’s just me.