Mile 23: Why Social Media Dissatisfaction is Your Fault
(New here and don’t know what Mile 23 is? Check details out here.)
I have been sitting with this post for a long time.
It’s a big topic for me because I love social media. I love the connections I can make with people, the voyeurism of sneaking a look into people’s lives and the curated, amplified beauty of everything. I love looking at beautiful photos of things I don’t have; like perfectly designed homes, cut abs, colourful dinners and staged moments of pure athleticism. My social media feed is eye candy and I get totally caught up on double tapping a perfect world where everything is not only beautiful- it is amped up, photoshopped, curated fantasy.
And then I accidentally hit the camera function and I get a glimpse of me looking down at my phone with that total Jabba the Hut double chin. YOU KNOW THE ONE.
I almost instantly get a hit of repulsion that I don’t have that effortless beauty I was just celebrating on my social feed. Reality is a real bitch.
Or I get a knock on my door and it is my neighbour who is an absolutely beautiful woman who mothers two children, runs 5 KM before work every day and is a kick-ass professional at her job. But she has her hair pulled into a top bun with no makeup on and is a bit rushed as she is herding her kids off to soccer practice and is asking me if I can take out their garbage while she is away this weekend. And I totally miss that she is so beautiful because she doesn’t have the perfect mommy blogger makeup and the handbag to match.
And I go to work, or grocery shopping or out training and I am surrounded by this crazy awesome mosaic of different faces, colours and body types and I stop seeing how it is all really beautiful because I keep spending my time double tapping on one version of beauty that isn’t even real.
AND IT IS MY OWN FAULT.
When I am choosing to have 98% of my social feeds to reflect something that is entirely aspirational, I am slowly shifting my acknowledgement of what beauty is. This is harmful to me and I know it. It is draining the beauty of grey hair and laugh lines and wobbly bits and imperfection that basically is most of life. I am giving myself one formula for beauty and it is something I cannot be and that is a complete and utter tragedy.
But HERE is the good news.
I get to decide what I look at.
I am not a victim.
My social media feed can be whatever I want it to be.
And there is absolutely room in it for models, celebrities, and athletes with perfect bodies and families with perfect lives and influencers with a film and lighting crew. It is even ok if I make some of them into role models.
Role models are fine. But not when they get in the way of embracing our reality. The reality of imperfection and vulnerability.
Seth Godin recently wrote that Photokeratitis (snow blindness) happens when there’s too much ultraviolet–when the fuel for our eyes comes in too strong and we can’t absorb it all. Something similar is happening to each of us, to our entire culture, as a result of the tsunami of noise vying for our attention.
I think this can be linked to our dismissal of real, authentic, grab-it-with-both-hands beauty. It is something we have been struggling with for ages, but it has gotten much worse than before. When I was younger, I could clearly see that I didn’t look like the models in the magazines and that sucked but there was a distance to it. I could leave the magazine rack and join my friends and understand that there was a clear separation between what was real and what was airbrushed.
But now, these friends can airbrush and curate their life moments which blurs that separation and can leave me disillusioned on what is beautiful and real. It makes me more prone to moments of questioning that maybe I am making a huge mistake and I really am supposed to look, act and be like what I see on my social media feeds and NO ONE IS TELLING ME?!
So I have become much more intentional with my feed. I have unfollowed a lot of people who were beautiful but made me feel less. I started following more people who were in love with their lives and their realities. And I reinforced my commitment to be one of those people both online and in real life.
I also made a commitment to spend less time looking down at my phone and more time with my face up, looking at the incredible beauty of everything right in front of me. And THAT is something worth double tapping.