The In­ter­net is a ly­ing liar

As are all of us who take a hun­dred self­ies just so we can post one per­fect pic on In­sta­gram.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - OPINION - star2@ thes­tar. com. my Ja­son God­frey

SO­CIAL me­dia has be­come an in­tri­cate part of our daily lives. For many, my­self in­cluded, it’s be­come the thing you check in the morn­ing when you wake up, and the thing you check right be­fore you go to sleep. And I com­pletely ad­mit to the time wast­ing power of so­cial me­dia, yet there I am check­ing away. But is be­ing so con­nected to every­one all the time a good thing?

A re­cent study in Bri­tain sug­gests not for young girls. The re­port found that among 10 to 15- year- old girls, 14% were un­happy with their lives and 34% un­happy with their looks. Both these num­bers are a marked in­crease in un­hap­pi­ness from five years be­fore. In 2011, of girls and boys in this age range, 11% re­ported be­ing un­happy. Now that per­cent­age has risen but only for the girls, not for the guys. In ad­di­tion, the num­ber of girls who are un­happy with their looks rose from 30% to 34%, while the guys stayed the same at 20%.

What hap­pened?

Some ex­perts be­lieve it’s the grow­ing pres­ence of so­cial me­dia in these girls’ lives. Au­thor and pas­tor Steven Furtick has said that the prob­lem with so­cial me­dia is “we com­pare our be­hind the scenes with every­one’s high­light reel”.

A high­light reel that shows every­one in the best light – lit­er­ally – pos­si­ble. And that young girls, acutely aware of their looks any­way, are most sus­cep­ti­ble to fall­ing into pat­terns of feel­ing bad af­ter spend­ing time star­ing at their Face­book or In­sta­gram feeds.

In­deed, so­cial me­dia pro­vides the ul­ti­mate “keep up with the Jone­ses” ex­pe­ri­ence. But for every­one. It can cre­ate a sort of one- up­man­ship where peo­ple are con­stantly try­ing to cre­ate the ul­ti­mate viewer ex­pe­ri­ence of their own lives. Think about how crazy that sounds. But that’s what’s hap­pen­ing.

Espe­cially on plat­forms like In­sta­gram.

I rarely search for any­thing on In­sta­gram; in­stead, I cu­rate my own feed and don’t spend much time look­ing at other stuff – yes, I know how self- cen­tred that sounds but, hon­estly, I can only en­joy the voyeuris­tic as­pect of so­cial me­dia so much.

But when I went search­ing, I found out what I’m sure every­one has al­ready fig­ured out: That ev­ery girl who pouts her lips and wears a tight top has 15,000 fol­low­ers! Se­ri­ously. Go check that.

At first I as­sumed these girls must be mod­els, or ac­tresses, or TV pre­sen­ters but soon fig­ured out that they were just reg­u­lar girls who liked to take photos of them­selves puff­ing out their lips. And if you scroll down on these photos, it’s a colour- sat­u­rated grid of lips, sun­glasses and breasts. Af­ter a while, look­ing at all these ac­counts, I started to feel bad. I mean, I’m on tele­vi­sion. I write col­umns that pre­sum­ably thou­sands of peo­ple at least look at, and these girls who pout their lips have more fol- low­ers? Sucks to be me.

I mean, if this dis­play on In­sta­gram could make a 39- yearold man feel slightly bad, what chance do young girls have?

And then I started think­ing about it. We need more truth in so­cial me­dia. We need to post the crappy times just like we post the good times, at least if we want so­cial me­dia to be more than just a branded ver­sion of our­selves. If so­cial me­dia rep­re­sents our real lives than we should post our real lives, no mat­ter what.

In­spired by this thought, I im­me­di­ately posted a pic­ture of me sit­ting in the back of a taxi while stuck in traf­fic. I thought to my­self, yes, this is real. This is truth on In­sta­gram. I ac­tu­ally thought of hash tag­ging that.

But when I was tak­ing the photo, the photo I wanted to rep­re­sent my truth, the photo I wanted to post so lit­tle girls would see that life isn’t all C- cup breasts, palm trees and glossy lip­stick, I no­ticed my bi­cep in the back was look­ing a lit­tle flabby. So I flexed it. Not a ton. Just enough to give it some shape. I’m se­ri­ous, check out my In­sta­gram at bigsmileno­teeth. It’s there, not su­per big, but not blarfy and amor­phous – as it is in it’s nat­u­ral state.

And be­fore I knew it, I had posted the photo. But why? In my own at­tempt to be hon­est in so­cial me­dia, I couldn’t do it. I still had to at­tempt to ap­pear bet­ter than I re­ally am.

Is it be­cause I’m keep­ing up with the Jone­ses?

Is it some weird sur­vival in­stinct to sep­a­rate our­selves as in­di­vid­u­als – which re­ally just makes us all part of the crowd?

I don’t have the answer, but peo­ple need to know that the In­ter­net is full of peo­ple pre­sent­ing them­selves how they would like to be viewed, not as they re­ally are – that in­cludes me.

Catch Ja­son God­frey on The LINK on Life In­spired ( As­tro B. yond Ch 728).

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.