Social Media and Reality: You know they’re not always the same thing, right?
As a marketing agency, we are constantly expressing the importance of social media to our clients and the impact it can have on overall awareness whether you’re a brand or individual (as long as you have done your research and are taking a strategic approach of course…). However, in our personal lives, we are hearing more and more about the need for a digital detoxes with growing links between social media dependency and poor quality of mental health. There are a variety of reasons cited for mental health issues seemingly connected to social media, however one of the ‘biggies’ is the fact that we have access to our friends so-called ‘everyday’ lives on tap. Whether in the form of Instagram posts or Facebook shares, day or night, we are exposed to a raft of pictures, check in’s and posts painting a very (more often than not) ‘airbrushed’ version of our ‘friends’ lives which often leads to comparisons and fear of missing out – FOMO as it’s more widely known to Millennials. In this blog, we’ll be talking about the version of ourselves that many like to portray on social media and the impact this can have on our health and attitude towards social media.
Over the past decade, the popularity of social media has exploded. It has become ingrained in our everyday, from our personal lives to our professional ones. We use it to share our thoughts, interesting articles, funny memes, connect with friends and family, we even use it as our online photo album. It can be easily accessed through our phones, a very big jump from the dial up broadband that we were once accustomed to. But this technological development means that we can always be logged on and checking our notifications, very rarely giving our brains a break from it all. Studies have shown that three quarters of Facebook users and half of Instagram users login to the social media sites everyday to access the endless scroll of posts. Despite new social platforms being developed frequently, Facebook continues to be the most widely used social media platform. Also, an overall 90% of people ages 18-29 said to be using social media. Research has also shown that 32% of teenagers consider Instagram to be the most important social media platform and female users are more likely to engage with this platform than men, 38% v 26% respectively. What these statistics show us is that internet users are frequently checking social media, seeing it as an important part of our daily lives. However, are we really sharing our reality on these platforms or are we constructing a shinier form of reality, just for the likes?
As technology is evolving, we are being bombarded with various apps which encourage us to enhance our images to help Kardashian-ise our skin, make our images sharper and even at times change our body shapes. We’re even using captions to indicate that we’re feeling happy (or a personal favourite ‘blessed’ ahem) or having a great time when in reality, we may be having a day that’s full of stress or anxiety. Online, users wanted to push positive images with #PositiveVibes or inspirational quotes when in actual fact, that might not be how they’re feeling at all. Why you ask? We’ve all been encouraged to ‘keep it real’ and rafts of campaigns have been launched to encourage us to feel comfortable in our own skins, be proud of what we were born with …you get the picture… However, the majority of people want to promote the best image of themselves. Essentially, social media is being used to promote a false self to get likes and give ourselves a short burst of self-assurance. The short burst of dopamine that we get when our posts get ‘likes’ can be addictive and the more you get, the more you crave. Everyone wants to be liked don’t they?
It’s not just the danger of altered reality that we’re seeing from social media but the effects this has on our health. Studies have shown that the more time young adults spend on social platforms, the more likely they are to feel cut off from the rest of society. Although using social media may make us feel like we’re engaging with our peers, in reality, we’re spending more time staring at our screens and less time having human interactions and one-to-one conversations. What’s interesting is that Millennials are becoming more aware of the impact social media can have on mental health, with nearly half of them fearing that their self-diagnosed addiction to social media is having a negative impact on both their mental and physical wellbeing.
Although large numbers of users are aware of the implications of constant usage, sometimes it can be difficult to recognise when we’re doing things that showcase a false sense of reality and the effects of social media because it has become so ingrained in our everyday culture. We think that the ‘Ditch the Label’ campaign that’s been shared recently has raised the awareness of these social media issues in a very emotive way. As time goes on, we expect to see more campaigns and experts in the spotlight with the aim of dealing with social media malaise.
This video campaign made the whole Station Rd team think about our approach to our personal social media accounts: