Being real is more interesting than being polished.
They say a picture speaks a thousand words so maybe it's time to put more thought into each of those thousand words. There is no doubt that social media has, for the most part, made our lives better. Thanks to WhatsApp, we no longer feel guilty for not talking to that one friend in ages. Thanks to Facebook, we can share updates meaning friends and family can feel up to date with our lives without having that four-hour phone call that ends with a thousand goodbyes. Thanks to FaceTime, we can feel like we're spending time in person with loved ones who live across the world. Thanks to Instagram, small businesses have been able to grow into multi-million companies.
Social media has also played a key role in advancing the missions of humanitarian causes and it has been revolutionary in bringing about change in Ireland as well as in countries throughout the world.
That said, social media has also become a source of stress, anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. Increasingly, we're witnessing the negative side effects of social media. TV shows, authors, reality stars, print publications, actors and artists are constantly sharing their irritation with social media which often results in disconnecting - both online and off.
Since society itself recognizes that there is a problem surrounding our obsession with social media it begs the question; Should we continue our fascination with social media as a form of entertainment, or should we take note of the warning signs and switch off the rooter?
However, a world offline doesn't seem likely in this day-and-age and as aforementioned, social media can be a positive place should you so chose it. To make social media a better place, ponder the five questions to ask on Instagram before you post, below.
Q: Why am I online?
Before you even ask yourself why you're posting a selfie to Instagram, you need to ask yourself why you're online in the first place. Social media tends to get a bad rap but there are so many ways to use social media to benefit your life. If you're using social media to stay connected to the people you love, raise awareness for topics close to your heart, be creative - then you're using social media for good and should stay online. However, if you're only online to seek self-affirmation, you may need to reevaluate why you’re using social media in the first place.
Q: Should I post this?
Your answer should not be, “I just haven’t posted anything today”. Frankly, no one really cares what you’re having for lunch or that your highlighter is "on point". You should post online when you're proud of what is you're posting about. Sure, that can be as simple as being proud that you got out of bed this morning to go have avocado on toast with your best friend or it can carry more weight. Whatever you post, it should hold meaning to you.
Q: Is this a conversation I need to be having?
It’s important to take a step back and think about why you’re commenting on or sharing certain things. Having a voice and using it matters. But, there are moments when you have to evaluate where the best place is to let that voice be heard. Now don't get us wrong, more often than not, it makes sense to use our voices on social media. But in other cases, it can make just as much sense to talk offline or through other forums.
Q: Do I really need this many filters?
If you've justified the need to update your followers on what you had to lunch, then good for you, you shouldn't feel censored on your own personal social media. However, is the image your sharing with the rest of the world a true reflection of yourself? If you've ever run into someone when you're "not looking yourself", your first instinct is to run and hide. Because if you’re not put together, if you’re not the expert 100 per cent of the time, then how can you be taken seriously, right? Wrong. Being real is more interesting than being polished.
Q: What do my friends and family think of this?
While we are very much of the opinion that you should pay no mind to other people's opinions of you, it is important to note whether your life online is affecting your relationships offline. There's a lot to be said for living in the moment and while that picture of the sunset on the beach would go down a real treat on your feed, how about enjoying the view for yourself? It's not about what you post, more so when you chose to do so. Not everything has to be live.
Q: What impact will this have on my future self?
Once upon a time, you wouldn't dream of posting anything private online. Now, we're having FaceTime conversations on the toilet. While these aren't public, the sentiment still remains. If what you're posting could come back to haunt you at a later date - whether it be damaging to your career or to blown up to embarrass you at your 50th birthday party - you probably shouldn't post it.
Main image by Georgia de Lotz