It’s all about self care and treating yourself. At least that’s what we’re told by just about every social media “influencer” in existence. Don’t get me wrong, taking care of yourself (especially your mental health) should be your number one priority, but there is a line between loving yourself and obsessing over yourself. Have social networks pushed us to cross that line? Have we put such an emphasis on focusing on ourselves that we have completely forgotten how to shift our attention to others?
Social media is turning us into narcissists. What makes me think my followers want to see their thirty third Sunday brunch picture of the day on my Instagram story? Well because it’s MY brunch, of course, and it’s obviously more special than the other thirty two orders of eggs benedict already posted today (mine was vegan!). I tap through handfuls of Instagram stories in one sitting, paying little to no attention to each one, but of course I like to believe my followers take ample time with my own story and really take it in. Because I’m important, right? In reality, most people are checking social media out of addiction and habit, not in search of updates on their followers’ lives. Yet we can’t help but post meaningless photos to our stories every day because we need to ensure that the attention we are receiving from others is never-ending.
Whenever a friend asks me if their latest post was cute enough or if it made them look “fat”, I like to remind the friend that it doesn’t matter because no one is as interested in her Instagram as she is. Everyone is too concerned with their own accounts to pay much attention to anyone else’s. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself how often you stare at your own social media profile and determine if it looks “acceptable”.
We are a part of a society that has mistaken self love -- exercise, meditation, a healthy diet -- with posting selfies to social media. Selfies are not inherently bad, but how often do you post one and forget about it? Not check the number of likes it’s gotten after twenty minutes? No matter how many likes your picture receives, 99 percent of your followers will have forgotten about it within a few minutes of seeing it. A great form of self-care is surrounding yourself with the people you love. But when is the last time you went out with a group of friends and didn’t update your story? And is your romantic relationship even legitimate if it’s not Facebook official?
This post is not intended to make you feel shameful and it’s certainly not meant to say that you are not an important being. The point I want to drive home is that social media has really not helped us socialize at all. What it has done is turned our attention inward to ourselves. I am just as guilty of it as the rest of our generation. But it is up to us all to fix it. I want to challenge you to log out of Instagram -- or whichever social media platform is your personal vice -- for an entire week. In fact, delete the app (don’t worry it will always be available for redownload in the app store). See how this makes you feel. As someone who struggles with anxiety and has given this practice a try, I am willing to bet you will feel refreshed. And you might realize you had time for some real self-care activities. Do we want to live in a world of selfish people, unable to connect with their fellow humans? True happiness never sprung from narcissism.