No one will ever read this because it isn't about Kylie Jenner.
So many people have so much going on for themselves on Social Media. They are partying, getting hitched, buying cars, eating avocados and taking a poop. This act of sharing and in return receiving ‘likes’ as some form of endorsement of their lifestyles is becoming a huge necessity. There are those that share and benefit from a brief moment of celebrity status and those, well, who just don’t. I now view myself as a mid-20 something woman with so much potential but a bit unqualified to become big on Social Media. As I slowly reach the end of this 20-something phase and become more ‘lost’ here than ever, I will have to face the effect that quantification of one’s image on social media has had on the mind.
Newsfeeds and social posts make me feel like I don’t have it all. I can say I am a cliche; I have a supportive family, two degrees, a job, and I live independently in a share house with friends in the greatest city of all, Melbourne. The weather is negotiably dismal at times but the coffee is straight-up, an all time winner. And, that should be enough right? No, it’s not and believe me, I may not have a choice. We are born into a world that is half going blind and half opening its eyes to a Universe that is steadily growing. I am not talking about the great galaxies that we see in the skies, wonder about, and contemplate life because that would be rewarding; but about an invisible Universe of Social Media that is traversing the boundaries of intelligent knowledge through to the everyday lives of people and their trash meme shares. Beneficial information is overshadowed by what is empty, yet simply just more popular. The great almighty Social Media has become a breeding ground for not just fame-hungry average Joes and Janes but also psychological insecurities. Other than money, ‘social acceptance’ is the only value that people will give to brief moments of popularity and everybody is in it to earn it.
It is an enterprise; and we have forgotten what life used to be like without it. Every action we take on these apps and websites is reflective of how we want the world to see us. How can I elicit an image to display myself as an authentic person over what is considered more likeable? I will admit I am in-adept at being popular within or outside of Social Media and I am not hugely fond of wanting to try either. I do not have many friends but I do have a few good ones that will support me if I decide to build myself some wings so I could jump off a cliff. Maybe not literally but you get the gist. On this journey, I have become all too aware of the psychological effects of quantified ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ that I am finally convinced it is a systemic classification of social identities and accounts of fictional gratifications.
No likes — total loser, 20 likes — borderline average person, 50 likes — average, 100 likes — normal, 200 likes — popular, 5000 likes — wanna be celebrity, 10k+ likes — celebrity. It is a ladder, whether you like to see it as one or not.
Don’t get me wrong, there are those that are genuinely talented and henceforth deserving profiteers of this system, but there are those that are in it just for the numbers. Like most Social Media users, I used to count my likes on Facebook. I wanted to be heard, seen, known, and I never really felt satisfied with the image that I displayed. I convinced myself, I am not really up the social media ladder, I don’t really have a voice, people won’t really read this, and I will never be able to make a point.
For example, let me go back to a rant I wrote after scrolling through my usual Social Media apps few days ago.
In about 2 minutes, my mind is about to explode as it turns inward and does a mental back-flip about how I was just fine 2 hours ago, and now suddenly my whole life sucks. I am beginning to experience the post-social media-counter- productive thinking process as I let it perform its glorious service of showcasing various private affairs I do not need to know about.
Insecurity #1 — A guy I used to like a year ago at the gym and occasionally stalked on Instagram, is on a boat party with all these attractive people and I think, “he’s having fun, he is attractive, I bet he knows it, and he wont be going home alone tonight”. I never thought I was ever good enough for him because his photos and videos showcased him in a light that holds true to an identity he lives by even without a social profile. I let this ruin my chances of even talking to him in person and so I choked each time he passed by and hoped maybe he would notice me ‘on my Instagram’. I waited for this app to create the connection which I could have just made myself. If only I knew how not to be superficially influenced by what is ‘Instagram-attractive’, then I would’ve never believed that to be the only acceptable choice for a guy of such great popularity.
Insecurity #2 — I stare at a photo of an ex-lover and envy how he has gotten over 100 likes on a shitty badly captured photo on a shitty sunny day with a new girlfriend. And, here I am trying to gain attention over a High Definition photo that I took with an actual Canon camera of myself against the breathtaking scenery of the Guatemalan Volcano behind me. I end up with 23 likes liked by either close friends that probably just pity-like stuff for the sake of some sanctimonious relationship that we have, or by distant family members that I have not yet met and genuinely think this is the closest they will ever get to knowing me. I am upset not because he has a new lady friend in his life, but because the bastard got more likes than me. This is not a ‘the best photo’ contest but a ‘are you more popular?’ contest. Is he more likeable than I am? I have made myself believe that I am the loser and I have become good at being one.
I agree, that is one hell of self-negative talk which is not only unhealthy to have, but also suppress.
After all, it is better to accept that I am just hopeless, not very popular, and that my life is just not as fun as I wish it would be than to pretend I am getting ‘there’. The BIG question now is, why do I want to be popular? What is it about ‘likes’ that makes them so desirable? And when does it become the cause of mental distress and anxiety? We have turned this into a test that never existed. Social Media is running a popularity contest where the Trojan horses will score bigger wins than true stallions. There are numbers and scores, winners and losers, in a game where everyone is an addict; but ultimately, it is a test. So, fellow Social Media users, check how the world sees you or whether the world sees you at all.
As I write this, I wonder, do I really want to be seen for the sake of attention? No, I don’t. But I do, however, want to be heard for the point I have to make today— People have lost their mind over this invisible Social Media contest in a world that is just not fair. By being a below average Social Media user, I have hit the jackpot and seen the gold as it poured into my treasure trove of a mind as it has shone some light on a lesser known audience I can entertain — myself. Essentially, I can make a point, I do have a voice, I can influence, and certainly can become my own audience. Therefore, this to me is the quintessential form of self-expression and freedom. I can say, I don’t need followers and that as the going gets tough, the Invisible will get lost…somewhere in the Cloud.
In the end, true identity lies in what we give value to. This game has revealed much more about ourselves and how we see ourselves, than whether Social Media in causing mental distress. I have learned that I value the identity I have of myself to myself because that is how I understand myself. Sometimes it is okay to think that we are all somewhat fragile flowers that mask our tendency to occasionally wither away with fake scents of beauty. But truly, our creative potential will never surface and lie dormant amongst our insecurities until they are addressed. For instance, I am insecure about many things and today being alone and unnoticed is highly expressed through my desire to write a blog about being alone and unnoticed. So instead of binge watching Netflix on a rainy night and feeling less advantaged, I am giving my insecurity a centre stage, an outlet, and a physical display on this computer screen because this feels like the right form of expression to adhere to.
Lastly, since my desire to become Insta-famous cannot be won over by my lack of a skill to win an audience, so I am now embracing my invisibility. This is my space, trend and the only available filter. I am less than average here but I do live in the greatest city of all, Melbourne that serves the best coffee in the world, and that is enough. No one will ever read my blog, because it isn't about Kylie Jenner, and I have become my own follower.