I lowered my camera to the height of the immaculately clean kitchen table, moving it minutely left, right, up down, getting the perfect angle to photograph my expensive new brand-name nail polish. I took about five photos, not so many really, and then settled down on the couch. I had a good ten minutes of choosing, editing, captioning and finally posting the perfect one. In the hours to follow, I’d check back, pretending to myself I didn’t really care, but still counting up the number of ‘likes’ I’d received, and reviewing carefully who had bestowed upon me their online favour.
A few months ago this was my life. I now use social media a lot less, but I still enjoy it, and believe that in some way, its use had made me a better person.
Bear with me.
A better person? From a social media provider that preys on users’ narcissism and forces relentless comparison and a purely aesthetic measure of worth? Well… yes.
Using social media has forced me to become self-aware in a way I never was before, and for me this has been a positive experience. By attempting to live up to my own online presence I am pitting my current self against a better version of me, and shaping my actions accordingly. My social media profile is me without the bad-hair-days, the PMS, the self-doubt, the failures. It’s who I want to be, an ideal me, and by continually refining and displaying that, I am reminding myself to work towards it.
Social media usually gets a pretty bad rap. I’m not saying that is not deserved – for many it serves only as a vehicle for indulgence in self-destructive thoughts, lowering self-esteem and involving everyone in everyone else’s business. It can, however, also be used to let your best self shine through, and to connect with people without the stress of their seeing your acne, your wobbly belly, your low grades. It allows me to be who I really want to be – a glowing, high-achieving, more adventurous version of my favourite person – me.