I was born in the 1990s, and as I grew up, I frequently heard the words, “GET OFF THE INTERNET, LACE - I NEED TO USE THE BLOODY PHONE!” If you know of dial-up, you’ll know the struggle, babes.
In terms of technology, my generation didn’t grow up with a smart phone or tablet; neither existed. It was flip phones the size of your forearm and computers that took approximately 100 years to load anything.
Ah yes, the good old days!
In my teens, the obsession most of us had with MySpace, Bebo and Facebook began. I was hooked - you couldn’t get me off of them!
The amount of hours I would spend cultivating the online presence of a party emo gal through html codes, or choosing the perfect song for my page, was absolutely shocking.
What were once platforms focused on connecting us have now become platforms for tearing ourselves
A vital requirement of the MySpace song was that it reflected your current mood, because, of course, you were too socially inept to talk about emotions.
There was always room for improvement on the page because there was always room for improvement in terms of myself. I always wanted to be funnier, more beautiful, more unique.
And so social media sank its teeth into me and damaged my self-esteem. We can all relate to that, right?
Present-day me. I’m a freelance artist and event organiser, so the use of social media is crucial for my business and I spend a lot of time on it - I will sit for hours scrolling through photos and videos on Instagram. Although I’ve worked on my self-esteem a lot and would say I’m a confident person, I do experience pangs of envy and jealousy from time to time.
We all know that these social media images are cultivated and staged. Jennifer or Toby might look happy with great abs, but we know they’re probably sneaking a cheeky fag and eating leftovers from three days ago, just like the rest of us.
So why do we get these unhealthy feelings, and what long-term effect are they having on us?
Advertising is everywhere, on every platform
TEARING US APART
It’s all about marketing, baby. We’re in the era of sell, sell, sell. And this filters through everything that we see - including, you guessed it, on social media.
What were once platforms focused on connecting us have now become platforms for tearing ourselves apart due to our low self-esteem.
Scroll through and it’s constant adverts. And the adverts during videos make me want to throw the phone at the wall. No, I’m not interested in buying jewellery that covers my cat’s butthole from wish.com (yes, it does exist - look it up).
Advertising is everywhere, on every platform, and its influencers are being paid to sell it to you so that you can look just as good as they do.
DON’T FEEL GOOD ENOUGH
But guess what? No matter how much we buy, we still don’t feel good enough - and our bank balance is probably groaning under the strain of it all. It’s toxic. These companies know it and make a lot of money from us. In the words of Thorgy Thor: Oh, Jesus… gross.
It’s taken me most of my 20s to grapple with the self-esteem issues that social media has created and amplified. I will always be podgy, always have hair that never sits right and always spill things down myself. And all of that is absolutely okay, because all of that is what makes us human, interesting and loveable.
Who do these big corporations think they are to dictate to us what’s beautiful and how we should look? It’s our life and our journey. We can either spend years worrying about fulfilling ridiculous expectations, or we can choose to say f**k it and try to love ourselves each day.
That positive energy will eventually lead to a healthier mindset and a greater love, not only for ourselves but also for those around us.
So what can we do to combat the negative impact of social media on our self-esteem? Here’s a Lacey Lou guide that I mentally follow whenever I’m scrolling through social media...
1. The smiles are usually staged. No one likes to see sad people. They’re probably just as miserable as you, so don’t worry.
2. If someone’s being paid to sell it to you, if it’s really cheap or it’s currently in fashion, don’t buy it.
3. The reviews are fake. If it’s cheap, it won’t last, and if it’s in fashion, you’ll wear it a few times and then get bored when it becomes outdated.
4. Abs aren’t for special people. You too can achieve a magnificently muscular midriff. But let’s face it, you enjoy other things too, like sinking pints and wolfing down burgers - both of which are far more fun than abs at this point in your life.
5. You’re beautiful as you are, bab; it’s society’s attitude that needs the makeover.
Carry on the chat with Lacey Lou @laceymcfadyen
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