Social media is a great means to connect us with people — a conversation with our loved ones becomes only a few taps away, no matter how many kilometers the actual distance may be. Gone are the days of our grandparents who had to physically drop by someone’s house to exchange a few quick words; gone are the days when one would write a letter or purchase a calling card to speak with a loved one abroad. In the age of social media, conversation is accessible at our fingertips. However, this new mode of socialization comes with its own set of challenges.  

 

Beep-beep-bop! Your phone vibrates against your leg and your fingers automatically reach into your pocket. A girl in one of your classes has liked your Instagram picture and left a comment. She is a fashion blogger, which is fitting, because the picture in question is a #OOTD. You tap her name and what appears before you is a canvas of hundreds of pictures of her in the trendiest clothes at the most hip places Downtown. In every little block, your friend is picture perfect: hair, makeup, clothing, location, props; everything down to the very last detail looks flawless. Your lackluster picture, which you took in front of your bathroom mirror, looks like a joke in comparison.  

 

You suddenly look up at the time; twenty-five minutes have passed in looking at your friend’s Instagram, and your reading for your class still sits sadly on your desk. You try to concentrate on theories about gravity and the Earth’s pull, but you cannot help but gravitate back to what you just saw, and a heavy sense of inadequacy pulls your morale  and your concentration  down. You get up and pull open your closet door. Everything seems drab and shabby; nothing you own really has any style. But what would be the point anyway? It’s not like you have any cool places to visit like your fashion blogger friend. No, your life is not good enough. This is not the first time you have felt this way. 

 

Social media is a world of selective storytelling; it is where everyone gets to choose an angle for themselves to portray to the world. In this story, they are the protagonist of any fairytale they choose, with the power to control exactly how it is told, and the ability to hide or cover up parts of their lives that do not match the narrative. This is why whenever we visit any social media platform, we believe that everyone we know is living the perfect life  we do not realize that this is only one side of the story. This might make us feel that all good fortune has been distributed to the rest of the world and we have been cheated out of the good parts of life. It can lead to feeling inadequate and unworthy, and in extreme cases, can result in serious mental health issues.  

 

When everyone’s lives are constantly on social media, the stories will necessarily become distorted, just as when we see warped versions of unnatural model bodies on TV or in fashion magazines. And just as the world suffers from the implications of being force-fed those twisted expectations, the world also suffers when they are constantly scrolling through narratives of perfection  a toxin which has found a very comfortable home in our very own pockets, in our purses, on our bedsides, one that has almost become an extra limb.  

 

Is there no way out?  For the price of staying connected to our loved ones, do we have to pay a forcible tax of our self-esteem, our body image, our mental health? In a way, I think we do. It is difficult to escape the cycle – if we want to stay updated on the lives of others, we will necessarily be force-fed the one-sided narrative. What we can do is remind ourselves that “not all that glitters is gold”, that every single person has a failure to every success, that every character in every fairytale has a completely different version of their story to tell.