social psyche: tiny little hearts leave big holes in real ones

“You should post that on Insta.”

Why? Why should anyone be compelled to throw up a picture of themselves, their travels or their lives in any respect onto the World Wide Web? Will our posterity even be able to sift through the thousands of tweets, photos and selfies we leave in our wake? They should count their blessings Snaps are ephemeral.

The motivations behind social media have been on my mind quite a bit lately. I studied social strategy, I know the power it holds. It can influence thousands to donate to a cause, it can raise awareness about valiant humanitarian efforts and it can spread some good news so many need to hear in this topsy-turvy world.

Social networking has the power to do so much good, but it also has a strong side effect. Anxiety, insufficiency, low-self esteem — these are resultant feelings that can come from spending an overindulgent amount of time scrolling through curated lives. That one term, FOMO, has even been coined due to social media users not wanting to miss a single moment.

I fall victim to this ALL the time. How often do I feel stoked about hitting a new fitness goal, only to feel like a loser when I see Brooke Wells do that for her warmup? Better yet, how often do I identify with memes or a @jerryoftheday better than I can with people IRL (sad proof that this generation is losing social skills FAST)?

Tonight, I decided to ask my little network what they thought. The post was simple, different from my typical, eye-roll inducing wit:

“Real talk: WHY do you post, or refrain from posting, on social media? What does putting a picture up on Instagram do for you?”

It’s gotten some response and hopefully has prodded a few brains. I sure know it’s started mine on a long and winding path hopefully to somewhere good. I’ve had a lot of thoughts tonight, and hope to turn this into a passion project that will open my eyes up to those little apps that are occupying a big chunk of my time, and iPhone battery.

Here are the five things I can think of that I personally LOVE about social media:

  1. It makes this great big world a little bit smaller.
    A big chunk of my heart lives on the other side of the equator. While a quick WhatsApp chat is a cheap immitation for the warmth a Peruvian greeting (kiss + hug, always) provides, it does the trick until I can apparate there on the regular.
  2. Personal branding
    It’s 2017. You are so much more than a resume, cover letter or Tinder profile can ever say about you. Albeit unintentional, social media is the apex of personal branding in the digital age. Curated images and captions lead to the development of something that symbolizes who we are. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing — remember, it’s how those bloggers and Instagrammers make their living (more thoughts on that to come).
  3. Remember the good times
    I’m a poor, nostalgic thing. I’m sure I’m not alone in utilizing a photo to escape back to a time in my life where things were just so good. Photos and videos have the incredible power of capturing emotion and bottling them into a few megabytes.
  4. Feed that vanity
    There is a scientific reaction that goes behind each double tap. Our bodies register positive feedback on the internet the same they would a hug — with a rush of dopamine to the senses that leaves us happy and craving more. Especially when that high is coming from a photo where you’re feeling like supa hot stuff, you can’t help but feel like not all is lost. Maybe you won’t have to adopt 27 kittens to keep you company. At least you got a few likes on your photo!!!
  5. Creating pretty things
    It’s been far too long since I put in some time behind a lens. However, social media is certainly a creative outlet. Photos, words, content — they all play into forms of self expression. For the musically challenged and socially struggling, myself included, we must digress to the feeds.

But what about the things I DON’T love? TBD.

Do you have thoughts on this topic? I’d love to hear them. It’s a conversation that I’ve been wanting to have and am finding the venue to make it happen. One Instagram post has led to some really exciting and long threads that I only hope will continue.

XO, Jill