By Charmaine Annabelle Mathew, Law Student
The Croft Magazine // social media is simultaneously intoxicating and completely destabilising. Charmaine interrogates the damaging effects of social media on our self-image and questions whether this damaging impact is escapable.
A micro-influencer draped in designer clothing on her third consecutive getaway to the South of France. Your college friend beginning her new six-figure corporate job. The picture-perfect wedding of your best friend from nursery, who, as it turns out, met her fiancé whilst volunteering at an animal shelter. That’s probably all you took away from two minutes of aimlessly scrolling on Instagram and the likelihood is that this has made you feel some kind of way.
It is no secret that the digital realm in which we spend so much of our time has added a whole new dimension to the natural human emotion of jealousy. With the picture-perfect lives of others shoved down our throats at quite literally any second of the day, it’s impossible to not compare our lives to theirs. The jealousy that festers within us creates the perfect breeding ground for comparison culture. We begin to think “why them, why not me?”. With every scroll we come across the success of yet another person, prompting the green-eyed monster to rear its ugly head.
A rather simple solution would be to remind ourselves that the content we consume from others are merely the fragments of their lives that they choose to share with the world. However, this ‘simple solution’ is much easier said than done.
The plethora of media uploaded on any profile has been painstakingly curated and filtered to induce a morphed perception of that individual and their lifestyle. It’s honestly mind-blowing that a three-second glimpse into someone’s digital persona can manifest pervasive feelings of insecurity and self-loathing. Yet this is the experience of most online consumers. The detrimental effects on mental health and the self-esteem issues that result from this practice are apparent, yet the addictive and ubiquitous nature of social media makes it difficult for many of us to detach.
As a regular feature of our day-to-day life, it has become an obsessive practise to constantly consume the lives of others, the desire to see what he’s up to or where she’s going has become inescapable. This suffocating habit has been disguised as the norm, or even the expected. Whilst it’s in our nature to compare and compete, the unrealistic standards we hold ourselves to as a result of what we see on social media can have dire consequences.
Whilst there are measures that can mediate the effects of social media jealousy, such as reduced screen time and self-reflection, it is unlikely that there is a way to extinguish it completely whilst remaining online. These one-sided trivial rivalries with complete strangers ensue entirely in our heads simply because of the pictures they post or the achievements they display. We are all aware of the problem and yet, most of us who feel this way are also guilty of perpetuating the impression of a “perfect life” on our own profiles.
So, is there actually a way to purge the negative impacts of social media and its users? To eliminate the green-eyed monster with two thumbs, scrolling for hours and hours on end? I doubt it. Unfortunately, this normalised phenomenon is bound to continue, a disease without a cure, a modern-day endemic. The green-eyed monster with two thumbs will live on inside us for as long as we continue to consume and perpetuate the façade of online perfection.
Featured Image: Daniel Newell-Price
Hey Siri...play Jealousy by Olivia Rodrigo