Health & Wellbeing

The Danger of Internet Fame

What can happen when we centre our lives around our online persona? Charlotte Lloyd explores the aspects of social media that often leave us hiding behind a mask. 

Recently, I read a book by Florence Given called ‘Women Don’t Owe You Pretty’. This is basically a feminist look on the world, especially in regards to social media. It challenges the out-dated stereotypes and narratives that are provided for women. In this book, there is a quote that goes along the lines of: “It’s not fair on your mind to compare your lowest moments to another person’s highlight reel, especially first thing in the morning”.

See we all have done the dreaded stalking of someone, scrolling through their highlights, from their friends and the life they lead, it all seems to swallow you up in this cloud of self-pity, jealousy and envy. It’s not uncommon to feel like this, yet for some reason, it is hard to process and get your head around. Thinking more often than not that these highlights are their daily life, always happy, walking on clouds, laughing out loud kind of happiness. But this isn’t always the case, because even if someone’s Instagram story or latest Facebook post comes across this way, this is often a facade.

There are dangers of the internet and social media, especially when you can gain fame from this. Influencers preach about being real and honest. Raw and untouched. And I’m not saying this isn’t true – no, far from it. But there are always things that people want to hide and retreat from, whether it be issues, ideas or stereotypes that they are dealing with because it is easier to show your highest of highs without counteracting this with the lows that often come along with it. For those of us, though, that desperately try to either replicate this undeniably hard standard or post a certain something to gain someone (or lots of people’s) attention, it often leaves us feeling disappointed and upset with the outcome. See, the difference between people who know how to handle internet fame, and those who don’t, is that influencers (or whatever you want to call them) don’t use their platform for attention (or not most of them anyway). With people trying to reach this standard, they have a different feeling of not so much accomplishment, but rather a failure. Because more often than not, we let the things we don’t have affect those we do.

Social media, for a lot of people, including myself, can become a platform where you are constantly wearing a mask. This doesn’t mean you’re not yourself, but rather, in hope of coming across that you’re endlessly happy, you conceal the aspects that don’t make you feel that way. The problem with this, however, is that those around you start to believe this persona you’re trying to be, and this circles back to people comparing their lowest moments to your highlights, leaving people with those feelings of disappointment I was talking about. It is a vicious cycle and one that is hard to break from. I am no saint and have defaulted back to posting things on social media to gain people’s attention or reach a certain someone, but when the reaction isn’t what you hoped, what do you do then? Fall victim to self-pity once again. See the other thing about social media is that it is both pulling and pushing between good and bad. We can share the moments of happiness, sadness, gratitude and tragedy with those closest and furthest from us, but the bad part of this is that we can choose what we want to share, meaning it is the happiness without everything else that seems to be the new normal.

I know it’s easier said than done, especially in a world that is super social media focused. I mean, our generation would almost spend more time on their phone than off, but this shouldn’t and does not give way to the boundaries that need to be set for yourself. You see, that by seeking the approval and validation of others, you compromise these boundaries. You see yourself through others peoples eyes, desirable or not, but you do not owe people or even a single person anything, from sacrificing parts of yourself, setting yourself on fire to make others feel warm and better about themselves.

From 2020 being one of the hardest years for many, and only being a month into 2021, it is almost imperative to set intentions for the year. I don’t mean a resolution. A New Years resolution leaves you at the end of the year feeling like a failure. By communicating and setting boundaries, setting intentions month by month, and taking small steps every day, you can take away from that approval-seeking culture we have become so invested in. The dangers of social media spread far and wide, and this is even heightened when you start to gain fame from the facade or mask that you decide to wear. But by not opening yourself up to both the highs and the lows of your life, both on and offline, the lows will feel uncomfortable and upsetting, while the highs will be the only thing getting you through day by day. I’m not saying to refrain from posting your happiest moments, but in understanding that it is both the highs and lows that keep you afloat, not one or the other. Life is all about balance, and if we don’t understand this within ourselves, neither can anyone else, and we stay caged and sheltered, not stepping outside of what we’ve been told or the narratives that have been built for us.

Feature Image: Madelyn Gardiner, Yak Media Designer

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