INSTAGRAM VS HAPPINESS
As some of you know, it was my birthday last weekend. I turned twenty-hundred years old, and I had a fun time celebrating the fact that I'm one footstep closer to the grave. Sasha organized a road trip to Death Valley and Vegas. What can I say, he knows I love the desert!
It was my first time in Vegas and we stayed in this GORGEOUS, giant suite at the Venetian. That thing was not even a room, it was a full-on 2000sq. feet house. It had 3 washrooms, a powder room, a walk-in closet, a giant bathroom with his & hers sinks on each side of the jacuzzi, a living room, a dining room, a sauna, a gym and a shower bigger than my kitchen. I was super excited to be there and I obviously felt really happy.
But then I wanted to share it on my Instagram stories, because that's what I do every time something noteworthy happens. Or at least, every time I remember to. But I felt so uneasy about it, real uncomfortable. I thought people would see it as if I was showing off, flashing my huge expensive hotel room in their face. And this is not in line with what I do, AT ALL. I'm more about sharing things that are real and raw.
Yet, there was no real reason to feel uncomfortable. It was my birthday, my man wanted to surprise me with a great experience and great it was. And in the grand scheme of things, even though it was special for me, it wasn't really anything exclusive or special for anyone else. Thousands of people have stayed in that room and millions of people have been to Vegas. Most of them shared the experience with their friends, family and social media, via pictures and videos. I'm sure I wouldn't have been the first one to Instagram that room.
I didn't feel guilty for sending my sister a 44 second video of me walking through the room, basically giving her a virtual tour. I knew she would be happy for me and wouldn't even think for one second that I was showing off or anything. She was actually happy to get to enjoy it, even if it was just virtually.
But social media has a way of sometimes taking positive things and turning them into sources of jealousy, envy and comparison. Which are all destroyers of happiness.
I'm not saying this doesn't happen outside of social media. Hell, I think we all know at least one person who can't be happy when their friend gets engaged or when their brother-in-law has a successful business. Some people do feel like other people's accomplishments take away from their own and they can't be happy for anyone because they're too busy feeling like failures themselves.
But I think we can all agree that social media has a real impact on our happiness. People evaluating their own happiness in comparison to others' hasn't really changed, but even though the metric remained the same, the sampling size has full-on exploded.
Which means that instead of comparing yourself to 5 close friends, 24 people at work and 17 people in your extended family, you can now compare your life to millions of people on Instagram... From the comfort of your own home.
I'm not the first one to raise the issue, and I certainly won't be the last. But as a blogger, social media is a big part of what I do, so it feels kinda natural for me to talk about it. Especially when I find myself scrutinizing my own behaviour based on the perception of strangers on the internet.
And I understand how constantly seeing an endless stream of perfect, staged and photoshopped pictures can have an impact on how we view ourselves and our lives. Trust me, I've been there. At some point, I got to a stage where I would hate my reflection in the mirror so much, that it was becoming a real problem. And even though I'm still working on myself, the one thing I did that really helped was unfollow all the girls I had in my feed that made me feel inferior.
I'm not someone who get really envious of what other people have materialistically, so I don't care if someone is posting a thousand pictures of their expensive cars, bags, shoes, clothes, makeup, houses, etc. Don't give a fuck. But I realized that seeing all these pictures of girls in lingerie, posing, in full-on makeup and hair, professionally shot and carefully edited, was making me feel like shit. And that's fucking crazy, because these shots are technically not even real.
I've hear so many stories of girls meeting some famous insta-model or blogger and not even recognizing her because her pictures are so photoshopped, that it looks like a totally different person in real life. But when that's all you see, all the time, it gets harder to remember that most of it is fake.
Which brings me to my next point: I think quantity has a big impact here. If you see one extremely gorgeous girl on the street, most likely, you'll tell yourself "wow, she's beautiful". And that'll be it. Because let's face it, in real life, gorgeous people aren't crawling out of every hole. Most people are average looking (that's why it's called average) and then some people are exceptionally beautiful. Same thing for money, intelligence and talent. Most people are OK singers. Some are terrible, some are outstandingly good. And that's fine.
I think most people, unless they have a real self-esteem issue, are comfortable admitting that they are very good at some things, average at most things and very bad at some things, too.
The tricky part is: No one puts what they're really bad at on Instagram. If you upload 3 selfies a week, I can guarantee that they weren't taken on the day when you didn't sleep at night because your dog barfed all over the bed and your husband wouldn't stop snoring and, oh, shit, that's also the day you ran out of concealer. I can assure you that that shitty picture isn't going up anywhere. And because everyone shows themselves at their best, the virtual space gets filled with the unrealistic standard that everyone is super beautiful at all times. Everyone but yourself, that is.
Because even though no one else does, you still see yourself in the morning, with morning breath and all, looking like a troll that hasn't seen the light of day in ages. But you never see anyone else looking like this, at least not on social media.
That's why one of my favourite quotes on social media (and life, too) is: Don't compare your behind-the-scenes to someones else's highlight reel.
Keeping that in mind, I also try to make my own "highlight reel" aka Instagram profile, as real as possible. Sure, I'll post pictures of bikini shoots and professional shots taken by photographers. That's one of the perks of modeling, and that's what I do on top of blogging. So it's really helpful for me to be able to have a portfolio online. But I'll also share pictures of me with no makeup at all... In bed or at the zoo, wearing homeless clothes. And I post videos of me in a face mask, looking like E.T. And I'm perfectly fine with that, for two reasons.
First, the reason I'm so present on Instagram is to connect with people. People in the industry, readers of the blog, friends... And to be able to really connect with people, you have to be real. So too bad if I don't look flawless in every damn picture, or ever. That's just who I am, and if it's not for you, good news! There are 7 billion more people on the planet, you're bound to find someone you like at some point!
Second reason, there's no way I want to hide behind photoshop (I don't even have it installed on my computer) and have someone ask me "Are you The Hungarian Brunette's ugly sister?". Not that anyone asks who I am, but you get the idea. When someone speaks to me on Instagram, they imagine someone, and that's the exact same person that's responding. If you think it's creepy that some old men pretend to be teenage girls on the internet, you can't have it both ways and pretend it's OK to alter your appearance so much that you're barely recognizable in real life. Granted, you're not raping anyone. But you're still pretending to be someone you're not. And truth is, it's hurting other people, too.
So I think it's important to be able to present the world with our best side, but also stay real. It's not always easy to juggle, but it should be one of the responsibilities that come with being a blogger or an influencer. Not only does it set the example, but it also takes so much pressure off. Do I want to be freaked out every time someone else posts a picture of me? Every time a photographer shares our work together? Fuck no. It happened in the past that I worked with a brand, and out of the 100+ good pictures of me, they published 3 where I looked like something that crawled out of a drain. Was I annoyed? Yeah, a little, not gonna lie. I'm not Mother Theresa here, I'm just as vain as the next bitch in line.
But I thought, you know what, people know what I look like. They'll understand it's a bad picture, fuck it. And I was only able to do that because I look exactly like myself... In every single one of my pictures.
All in all, I think everyone should make an effort to stay as real as possible. Like my little example here proves, not only is it better for the collectivity, but it's also better for you. And the way you think about yourself is the only thing that matters, at the end of the day. For that reason, I like to remind myself that comparison is the thief of all joy. And I'd much rather do my own thing than compare myself to what everybody else is doing.
And once in a while, I'll throw a picture of me with no makeup in the mix. Or I'll show my fucked up nails on my stories. Just to remind people that it's OK to not be perfect all the time. And it has to be, because no one is fucking perfect all the time.
How do you guys deal with social media? No matter if you're a blogger/influencer or if you just have a personal account. Do you think that makes a difference? Do you get affected by everything you see on Instagram? Did you ever have a similar experience? Are there some things you just avoid sharing on Instagram? Hit me up in the comments below or on Instagram. I do my best to respond to every comment as quickly as possible.
Wishing you a great weekend!
Love, Jenny xx