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Ellie Balfe On Curating Her Feed For Integrity + Realness

Hashtag blessed is flying high, but hashtag reality isn't so hot.

RIGHT, SO WE ALL know by now that what we used to call our digital lives, is now just our lives.

There is little sense of separation between how we scroll, tap and type, and who we are. Which means that how we behave in our day to day, is how we should behave online.

Simple, right? Yeah, not so, seemingly…

Maybe our children have it sussed far more than we do, especially after all the school-led training they receive on how to co-exist and play nice online. They seem to know the score.

It seems innate — they call out bullies, trolls and fakers with ease beyond their supposed emotional quotient (EQ).

In my younger days, several centuries ago, one of the greatest perceptible dangers was crossing roads — so we learnt the Green Cross Code.

Nowadays, our kids have Stranger Danger, digital style, to help them safely navigate the largest and most populated place they could ever visit — the internet.

For me, as someone who went through school (and college) with no internet, no, not bad WiFi, just no actual internet as it didn’t exist in the mainstream yet, I began my career with the older codes of how to behave and be nice to people.

This was based on listening and reading people — their facial expressions, their tone of voice and the general vibe.

Trolling didn’t exist, there were only OG bullies, their chosen style of shade was generally face to face not amplified by digital group chats. They were usually stood down via some sort of natural justice, or a letter between school and parents.

Something about social media seemed to dilute etiquette and humility, so much of it became a bit shouty, and look-at-me-ish, and don’t-I-have-nice-things-y.

Influencers influenced and clothes, cars and most consumables were bought, paid for (but often returned as they just don’t look like they did on Instagram!), but mainly we did what we do under the influence of anything — we threw caution to the wind.

The problem with all that? The abject lack of authenticity. Hashtag inspo was up, hashtag blessed was flying high, but hashtag reality wasn’t so hot.

Collectively, we fell foul of follower numbers, brand endorsements and annoyingly perfect interior scenes that made us hate our own homes, and feel a little unworthy.

As humans, we are drawn towards the beautiful. We are attracted to order and glossy success - to a curated feed, to clean eating plans, to capsule wardrobes, and to busy, buzzy lives.

The grass is always greener? Yep, we know that drill.

Thou shall not covet? Not so much.

Envy is a part of our nature, as much as the fear of failure. The fear of striking out as our true selves is big and real because we crumble into tiny shards at the merest hint of ridicule.

Hence why we prefer to follow the herd — it is more comfortable. And maybe that is why apps such as Instagram, successfully sold us the curated dream leading us frolicking, like lambs to the slaughter, head-first into Imposter Syndrome.

But slowly, we eventually and thankfully realised, most people were just pretending. We were reminded that having it all is a known myth, a trap, a fast track to jealousy and that comparison is, indeed, the thief of joy.

As quickly as we hit ‘follow’ on the Kardashians in our initial giddiness at the wonder of the full reveal from the world’s most commercially minded family, we flipped to wanting to find ourselves, thus instead, looking for the new champions of social media, the ones we relate to, the ones we see ourselves in. The authentic ones.

Having seen the wood for the trees, I now only want to scroll through feeds of people talking about their reality, their courage and their integrity, as well as how they learn, how they fail, how they question, and how they rise up to face the issues of our lives.

The ones starting conversations about who they really are. I’m here for that kind of scroll.

Read More: Our Editor On: The One True Positive of ‘Always On’ Culture