I made a pact with myself to make it my most honest year yet. I wanted to be truthful about how I felt and I wanted to put my integrity stamp on every decision made.
For some of you, that may sound like an easy resolution to conquer. However, for many people, I think it’s a harder task than one would think. In fact, I’ve found that one of the things people struggle with most is making decisions that are based on what they really want to do. Instead, all too often, people base their decisions on what they think others want them to do, or on what the majority of their peers are doing.
As kids, we always heard that line, “stop caring what other people think.” We heard it from our parents, our teachers, and maybe even some older family members. We also heard “just be yourself.” It was always instilled in us to be authentic, but how many of us actually follow those words to this day? Sadly, I think the answer is too few of us, and, in fact, I think the greatest disruption to our authenticity has been social media and the pressure it puts on us to have a perfect persona.
In the early 2000s, the social media monster started to transform the way we communicate. It also fueled how much we started to care about what other people think of us. Those “likes,” comments and heart icons are now the symbols of self-validation. It has turned into an obsession for many and affected the way we socialize, make choices and interact.
Some of us may even agree that it has made the art of being social less authentic or honest. I once worked with a man that would post a picture on Instagram and then count how many likes he would get within the first 10 minutes. If he did not get a good amount of “likes,” he would delete the picture. It was truly insecurity and self-obsession at its finest and an example of how one is so thirsty to be validated.
It is indeed a sign of the times. People now go out of their way to capture the perfect picture, food image, selfie or the most “shocking” shot with the hopes of gaining followers and “likes.” This is often heavily produced and staged. And, don’t get me started on filters and picture-altering apps. Can we all agree that they have played a significant role in altering real imagery and how one wants to be perceived? I will admit that I myself have used some of these filters to make my own pictures look aesthetically glossier. But, where I take issue is when they are overdone and photos are altered in a way that actually starts to affect one’s mindset. This is why I worry about the psychological effects of social media and how it has filtered the truth.
So, let me go back to my initial thought of caring too much about what people think and striving to be genuinely honest in your daily decisions. I challenge you with these questions: Do you think that we’ve all become accustomed to being more superficial than ever before? And, have the “likes” of social media made us less honest?
While you marinate on your thoughts, I encourage you to read the below. If you find yourself affected by the pressures of society and social media, as well as struggling to live an authentic life, then these suggestions are for you:
Pause Before Posting: Ask yourself why you are posting a picture. Are you doing it for a reaction, attention or to simply post a creatively cool or captivating picture? What is your intention? You don’t have to think too hard into this, but my point is simple: don’t post a picture to try and get something back in return. Do it with a clear mindset. Share because you want to share, not because you want to make someone jealous, show off, etc.
Follow Like-Minded People: Your social media feeds should be filled with people and pages that give you inspiration, motivation and entertainment. Comb through your followers and delete people that bring your energy down.
Enjoy The Moment: Not every outing needs to be captured with a video or picture. Go out and just appreciate the present. You will be surprised by how refreshing it feels. I have a feeling the people you are surrounded by will be grateful for your time even more.
Go On A Social Media Hiatus: Ever thought what life would be like if you actually did not check your social platforms every hour on the hour? Try taking a week-long vacation from your social media. And, please don’t make an announcement on your social that you are taking break. Just do it!
Change Your Charging Station: Put your phone in the other room when you go to bed. Your sleep is incredibly important for your mind and health. All too often, people make looking through social media the last thing they do before they go to bed and the first thing they do when they wake up. Believe it or not, it plays a part with your subconscious mind. So, do yourself and your dreams a favor. Move your charging station away from your bedside.
Make Your Content Authentic: You are in the driver’s seat of what you write and post. So, if you need a content overhaul, then I suggest you do just that. Delete old posts that don’t actually reflect who you really are. I say that with love, because what you put out into the world should be a representation of your life—your honest life.
What we can all agree upon is the fact that social media is not going anywhere. It is a powerful tool that has affected our communication around the world, our political system, breaking news, and daily social interaction. When something this big directly makes such a significant mark, we must stop for a moment and flush out what is working and what isn’t working. My wish for you is that you don’t lose yourself in the pressure and you always stay centered to what is real – the truth. Be truthful and authentic in everything that you do.