Naked Politics Blogger
A few decades ago, I’m sure no one could have anticipated that the popularity and universality of something like social media. We’ve gone from having little or no interest in these virtual platforms, to an era where it is now extremely rare to find a smart phone with no social media apps.
This sudden change has its benefits: it is a means of connecting, socialising and creating life-long friendships as well relationships with those near us, and people on the other side of the world. We can use them to connect with others in an instant, we can update friends and family on the latest happenings in our lives, (from graduations, to engagements, to baby showers) and we may even discover a haven for inspiration and creativity – all at our fingertips.
But in this world of complete and utter social media frenzy, social media influencers find themselves becoming more popular by the day. With a large audience comes great responsibility.
We’ve pretty much all do it, those times when we’re lacking inspiration, or creativity to fuel their latest project, or we’re just plain bored, you turn to the world of Instagram to fill this void- and it usually happens, that the latest makeup trends, ootds (outfit of the day) and the most advanced tech, are all found somewhere on popular influencers’ Instagram feeds.
According to Pixlee, an influencer is a “user on social media who has established credibility in a specific industry”, and possesses “access to a large audience and can persuade others by virtue of their authenticity and reach.” Whilst the seeking of inspiration and ideas for your own means is always a good thing, there is a fine line between looking for some inspiration and the constant comparison and feeling of incompleteness that can follow.
Young people may fall into the trap of habitually feeling like they are not “good enough”, which can mean a range of things: “smart enough”, “pretty enough”, “tall enough”, “rich enough.” And it would be unfair to blame the influencers. They themselves have their own lives, so if they wish to document it in such a way (just like many others who, perhaps, may not have such a large and impressionable following), they are completely free to do so.
The idea of influencers being role models may be stretched as far as young people wanting to purchase the same bag, or the entire closet, or the same car, or adopt a similar lifestyle, as their favourite influencer. Their focus shifts from their own lives, to that of someone else, and so, they may disregard the positives present in front of them in the hope of attaining something bigger, better, maybe because it’s “more expensive”, for example.
The point is, we all have good days and things that we are happy with, and so we wish to show people. At the same time, we also experience difficulties and challenges, which we tend not to share openly . Although, an increasing number of influencers are beginning to maintain a balance by sharing both the good and the difficult sides of their lives with their followers.
Alongside their luxurious lifestyle, influencers are increasingly expressing their personal struggles – providing followers with a balanced view into their lives. Use of this platform in this way could reassure young people that they are not alone in facing the good as well as the difficult, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. They need to be reminded that the “perfection” they see on social media is perfect because it’s social media, not real life. We should never assume that this makes their life perfect and that we are the only ones who feel like we are struggling.
If we look away from the tempting apps on our phones, only then will we be able to witness the real beauty in life and what we should be grateful for. Looking up to an influencer for their success, courage, kindness or whatever it may be is totally fine, but we should never let another’s success, wealth or happiness undermine or lessen our own; we are all on our respective journeys.
We are all human and there will be peaks and troughs, but that doesn’t make us any less than anyone else. We should aim to applaud the success of others, whilst we diligently work towards our own. There is meaning in every single one of our lives, because we are the people we are. And no Instagram post, Twitter notification, Facebook status or Snapchat story should be able to change that.