By Olivia Loughran, Second Year English
The Croft Magazine // University life is the perfect addition to an Instagram feed. The new faces, fashions and spaces that come along with the move are heavily enticing to post. However, how fiercely is the depiction of uni on social media condemning us to comparison and damaging our own experiences?
Whilst dropping me off at Hiatt Baker for the first time last September, my mum told me ‘university was the best time of my life! You’ll have a blast!’. After a fresher’s week that I can confirm wasn’t quite ‘the best week of my life’, I felt deflated by the pressure of constantly needing to have a good time. My mum will reminisce about uni with a subconscious omission of bad memories. However, she was a student before the time of the fresher’s photo dump. Past generations went off to uni only living their experience, whilst social media forces us to live the lives of others.
2022 brings a new kind of struggle when chasing the romanticized image of student life. Bristol, in particular, is a city rich in culture, clubs and fashion trends. Fitting in with a lifestyle that indulges in the city’s offerings comes at a price. The cost of living crisis, for many, will increase isolation as some cannot afford to keep up with the overwhelming number of fresh outfits and events ‘needed’ to enhance their feeds.
Online, university life is portrayed as busy - but never too busy. In the ideal world of a Tik Tok day in the life, schedules never seem either overwhelming or vacant. Whilst a composed influencer makes an iced coffee in her pristine flat to the tune of an aesthetic Tik Tok sound, I manage to find a squashed cereal bar at the back of my cupboard and rush into my lecture in a stained pair of joggers. The true stresses of the content creator cannot reach us through the screen, so I am left dumbfounded by the art of the work-life balance.
Nevertheless, I am not blameless in this false depiction of university. Carefully selected Instagram posts, rehearsed Tik Toks and late BeReals prove all of us to be guilty of hand-picking the best moments of our lives. Why is it so difficult to stop ourselves from buying into false realities when we are aware of the pretend nature of our own social media posts?
More importantly, what can be done about ending this cycle of comparison?
I feel it is important to remind ourselves of the privilege we hold in our access to education, self-improvement and new experiences. Self-improvement is not a linear process and struggles are required for us to learn, not just academically but also emotionally. The real ‘dream uni experience’ is reaching personal goals undefined by a romanticized image of the thriving student. Academic success, no stress and a thriving social life are an impossible equilibrium to keep up constantly. Stopping the damage of social media perfection doesn’t mean disconnecting from the online world. It means becoming more accepting of our own imperfections.
Featured Image: Daniel Newell-Price
Have you felt pressure to romanticise your life at university as a result of social media?