Social media popularity is leading to people striving to appear on social media as though they are leading an extravagant lifestyle. People have experienced the phenomenon that posting more pictures of famous exotic places will lead to more views on their social media posts. Not only is this a false representation of themselves, but it is also an inaccurate representation of the places to which they have traveled. Influencers have become obsessed with numbers and equate the number of likes or follows as validation of their popularity.
The solution to this unsustainable perception of popularity is to start traveling to sites that are not typically showcased and avoid personal exposure to enhanced pictures posted by other bloggers. Find places that have not been explored before or are not traditionally seen as beautiful. Start posting accurate representations of the places people visit and live. The modern generation is always looking for new and enticing things. Creativity and innovation could change society’s opinions of the images that are flashed in people’s faces every day of their lives.
When social media bloggers are documenting their travels and sharing them online, they tend to leave out the imperfect experiences of traveling. This behavior is caused by the attention society only gives to the positive and attractive parts of people’s’ lives. Lauren Bullen is a well-known travel influencer and fashion model who has posted many pictures documenting her trips. Though her photographs are beautiful, they exclude the hard work put into taking them that is hidden behind the scenes:
These enhanced pictures of famous places and fantasy lives are pressuring people to go out of their way to lead a fake lifestyle in order to look impressive to their followers on social media. This is detrimental to viewers because it is causing them to view their own lives as unextraordinary and irrelevant. These false realities advertised on social media lead to unhappiness and dissatisfaction in oneself. It distorts reality to focus on only the beauty and fairytale aspects of people’s lives. Maddy Osman, a writer for HelloSocial, wrote on her blog about how social media can be addictive:
“Sometimes people forget that social media can be both a world unto itself (suitable for undirected exploration) and also an extension of real life.”
Social media can lead to anxiety and depression because of the low self-esteem it provokes. It only focuses on the best moments of people’s lives, leading to people comparing themselves to others and developing low self-esteem. As Instagram users scroll through their feed, it seems like all they see are pictures of perfect places and perfect people. Leading to people thinking, is this how my life should be? Ethan Kross, a social psychologist and lead author of a University of Michigan study, explained the effects Facebook can have on users:
“On the surface, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling the basic human need for social connection. But rather than enhance well-being, we found that Facebook use predicts the opposite result—it undermines it.”
The average internet user spends about 2 hours and 22 minutes per day on social media and messaging platforms. One way people try to avoid being negatively affected by social media is by deleting their accounts. But this can lead to social anxiety associated with the fear of missing out (FOMO), which is one of the main causes of social media addiction. It makes people afraid of deleting their social media accounts. On media platforms such as YouTube, video bloggers tend to only film the parts of their lives that have been previously described as beautiful. People become branded based on only their social media posts, which raises the expectation that they continue to lead a ‘perfect’ lifestyle.
All influencers project the same fantasy lifestyles full of sunsets, cocktails, beautiful food, and attractive people. It makes everyone else feel unattractive, lonely, dull and insecure.
People see only 1 percent of each others day, yet that small percent can affect 100 percent of other people’s self-worth. This false sense of perfectionism is leading to people striving for nonexistent excellence.
Social media influencers can change trends and influence positive or harmful behavior. Unintended consequences of social media include: people comparing themselves with others, constantly competing for attention, focusing only on what others think of them, and losing sight of the people they truly are. Social media is not entirely bad, but it is the way people use it that makes it detrimental to society.
Social media does not need to hurt us. Out of the many Instagram profiles filled with only fantasy live’s, there are a few that promote the solution to this media epidemic. One of these is run by Instagram blogger Chessie King. She promotes body-positivity on her account by posting photos showing the reality behind ‘perfect’ photos posted by fashion and sports models. She does so by posting photos of her body in different positions without using the typical flattering angles or lighting that other bloggers use.
Instagram blogger Sara Puhto also promotes body-positivity. These bloggers are changing the way social media is affecting users by breaking trends and creating positive inspiration for people all over the world.