Are we all just a little bit brainwashed?
My relationship with social media has changed a lot this year in the sense that I spend a lot less time on it, both scrolling as well as posting. Last year for a few months leading up to Christmas, Instagram had become a big part of my life and I am the first to admit I spent way too much time either on it or thinking about it. I had even got to the point where I would spend one day every week creating content to post for each day the following week. Some may say I'd become a little bit obsessed. It got to a point where I was actively missing out on time that could have been spent with friends or family in order to create those all important little 3x3 squares. Luckily for me something shifted in the New Year and I realised I no longer wanted to give up my free day and dedicate so much time into something that never gave anything back. Also.. the numbers game, who hasn't gotten caught up in the numbers game of trying to gain more followers and analysing the ones you lose? I'm guessing not just me!
Throughout this year I've been spending much less time on social media and have developed a much more healthy relationship with it. However, about a month ago while scrolling through Instagram I noticed something that made me delete the app for a complete 2 week break. Looking through the stories section, a friend's account popped up with a video of her doing yoga. I was surprised by the post as she hadn't posted anything like it before but I carried on watching the other accounts stories. After a few minutes I noticed a strange feeling but couldn't place it or figure out what or why I was feeling it. It was almost a sense of dread/disappointment and it only took me a few seconds to figure out it was the yoga video that sparked this strange dark feeling.
I spent the next hour figuring out why I felt the way I did and what it was about the video that had triggered the unpleasant feeling. Thinking about it now I remember my inner voice saying "oh not you as well". I realised how much I usually see yoga photos and videos posted on social media and how it has become a trend that a lot of people have started and like to share online. "Why?" I wondered. Why do so many people suddenly seem to be such big fans of yoga and posting evidence of themselves practising it? This got me thinking about all the other trends that have risen within social media, for example, the "cheers" boomerang where people film themselves clinking glasses together, pugs, don't get me wrong I love dogs but these guys are EVERYWHERE, the humble avocado which has become so popular you can even buy avocado printed clothes (I wish I was joking, and I really wish I didn't own an avocado printed t-shirt) yoga- particularly handstands on a beach in a bikini. You get the idea. All of this made me wonder, are we all just brainwashed into liking and posting the same things? Are our social media accounts just replicas of each others with slightly different filters and captions? I decided I wanted out of this weird online world for a while and deleted the app off my phone.
During my 2 week Instagram break I didn't miss it once, I did however notice myself being much more present in my own life and in different situations either in work or with friends and family. Another thing that became clear is that social media pops into my brain at random times throughout the day, say while taking a shower I would start thinking of what caption I could post with a photo. I wonder if this how a lot of people think now that social media has become so embedded into our lives? I thought a little about what I gain from having Instagram and realised it's the little bits of useful information that I like to see most, accounts that share information about my interests like wellbeing, nutrition and health. If only I could just use my account for those things and bypass the trendy side of Instagram.
After the two weeks I downloaded the app again and made the decision to mute every account I follow except for the small handful of ones that I find inspiring or informative. I decided that I wanted the little time that I now spend on Instagram to be beneficial and it to be a place of inspiration and useful information. I've also changed the way I post my own content, I care a lot less about things like how often I post, how my posts look and whether or not my feed flows well. Oh and that numbers game I used to play? I realised I was never much good at numbers anyway.