In a society increasingly controlled by the internet, I feel that the more open people share their lives, the less truthful they become. The internet allows everyone and their dog to share their every move, but are those updates authentic? Personally, I doubt it. I have found that internet culture is shifting society away from reality and towards the myth it wants its followers to believe. Although this phenomenon (people only posting what they want the world to see) may seem obvious, I know it is time to call it out as too many people are negatively affected.
I have seen first hand, and been a victim of, the effects these false realities have on our generation and those younger than us. I know how hard it is to love yourself when all you see is perfectly clear skin, stick-thin legs, and shopping sprees that cost more than your rent. It is one thing to deal with this as a 19-year old with the ability to accept and embrace the life that I am living, but it another thing entirely to see how it impacts people I care about who are not capable of that. This summer, I went to New York and stayed with my family. I spent a lot of time with my younger cousins. It pained me to see how susceptible they are to images they see online and how self-conscious they are already. They haven’t even gone through puberty. It made me aware of how negative and brainwashing the internet can be, especially as it becomes increasingly incorporated into our culture.
In LA, walking down the street is like walking through your instagram feed. Women always seem to have a full face of makeup on (even when in their exercise clothes), and every guy has a perfectly messy and camera-ready “man-bun” in place (What’s the deal with that term anyways? A bun is a bun, no matter whose head it is on.) Here, in the city of my most genuine memories and connections, I have found the most outrageously made up realities of these internet personas. You meet so many young creatives in Los Angeles. I consistently meet people who do not go to school and call themselves photographers, youtubers, stylists, models, and actors. You can only respect someone so much when they add photography to the end of their name in photo creds. You don’t run a photography studio, honey. I am not saying these professions are not respectable, or legitimate, however the over-saturation causes me to question if people are pursuing their career because it is trendy, or because they actually live and breathe their art. Through social media, becoming a photographer and model seems easier and easier, but being instagram famous does not make you Ansel Adams. Do these yuccies even know who he is?
Although I have been an avid user of multiple social media sites, and have gained quite a following, it was not until recently I realized, or truly recognized, the illusions that people portray via social media. It is so easy to get caught up in someone's internet persona, jealously scrolling through their pictures, positive that everything in their life is easy. I succumbed to these falsities, believing that a person is what they portray on their instagram, however by spending time with internet celebrities IRL (“in real life” for those of you readers new to internet slang), I became aware of the truth behind the screen. Even the people I call my friends are not the same people as they seem on the internet. They hide their mundane lives and censor a lot of what they do. I don’t want to call anyone out because we are all a product of our society and I understand the motivation to make your life how you want it to appear. I am aware of having been a culprit of that. The important thing to remember is not to get too caught up in, or obsess over, someone else’s internet personality. It will only cause you frustration.
After surrounding myself with internet personalities, I have come to resent being considered one. It has caused me to question what I do, as I use various social media sites as platforms to encourage others to celebrate and love themselves. As a self-proclaimed self-love/body-positivity promoter (what a fake job...how ironic, am I right?), I began to fear that a lot of people only see me as a one-dimensional and conceited girl who gets off on posting her body. Now, I try my best to be as real as possible, sharing not only the good and positive parts of my life but also the more difficult parts, from my health issues and anxiety attacks to my crowded and smelly bus rides to community college. I try to use my platform to promote positivity and self-love because I believe it is important for my followers to see that even the seemingly most confident of people have bad days. I feel my approach is different from that of many others on the internet.
I have found the internet world is made up of sugar-coated false realities, and feel our society needs to stop buying into them. We need to stop feeling intimidated by these internet celebrities’ perfectly made up (pun intended) lives. Although these individuals may seem to have a little more glitz and glam in their life than the average young adult does, I promise that their existences are not what their instagrams make them out to be.
Mine definitely wasn’t.