My Thoughts On Social Media
I use social media every day and over the past few years have seen my following grow to levels I never expected. As it’s grown, I’ve become increasingly aware of the responsibility I have to talk about both sides of what it does. In many ways it’s a fantastic tool, with so many upsides, but there is a negative side to it too, which we need to be more open and aware of. I think it’s important to say this because we shouldn’t allow social media to become a negative space that allows comparison to become the thief of joy, and if we don’t talk about this openly, then it may evolve into just that.
Social media is still a relatively new concept that we’re only just understanding the full influence of, even though there are 2.1 billion users of social media with recent studies showing that 90% of 18-29 year olds having an account. The increasing presence of these platforms is making them quite all consuming for lots of us and that can draw us into a very powerful world of edited reality, which can work to reinforce our own insecurities. This doesn’t just relate to food, but also to fashion, beauty, fitness, lifestyle and just about everything else.
On the whole, most pages are designed to create positive places of inspiration, share ideas and create communities around similar interests, which is exactly what I try to do with Deliciously Ella. It’s not a personal blow by blow account of my day, but a space to celebrate a natural approach to life, with a focus on food. I can’t state enough that it is not a reflection of everything I do, think, feel, eat etc, in fact, you won’t see most of that there. Am I or my life perfect? Absolutely not! Do I feel good about myself 365 days a year? Certainly not! Nor do any other ‘influencers’ on social media, they’re human just like everyone else and they shouldn’t be put on a pedestal. You don’t see the negatives most of the time, not because they don’t exist, but because who wants to read about my daily niggles? Work is stressful, we have sleepless nights over our cash flow, Friday nights spent dealing with problems in our building site and arguments over who will walk Austin – just like everyone else, but when you’re worrying about your own things, I’m not going to add mine to the list. Instead I want to inspire and uplift.
The same goes for the food I share. Are all my meals Instagram perfect? No way! You don’t see most of what I eat online and most of my meals are far from beautiful, I often eat quick cook porridge for dinner, jars of peanut butter with a spoon for breakfast, tubs of hummus with slightly stale rye bread on the tube for lunch and a few too many trays of not-quite-right brownies when I’m recipe testing. I don’t tend to share these though, because they’re not going to inspire you with new ideas or get you excited to get in the kitchen. Likewise, you shouldn’t ever feel you need to go home and cook exactly what I made earlier, it’s there for ideas but it’s not gospel and we all have different wants and needs. I like being veggie and eating the way I do, not everyone does, that’s no problem – do what you want to do, not what I do.
It’s important not to over-interpret social media too. We don’t know the people we follow and it’s easy to see things that aren’t there. If you take a look at my bio on instagram, for example, it says ‘food lover and entrepreneur’, I’m a cook who is excited about building a business. I’m not a nutritionist, have never claimed to be and I certainly think giving blanket advice to thousands of people online is a terrible idea, yet too many people think because I’m sharing food I’m giving you exact advice and that’s where the problems start. Social media isn’t there to create a platform from which to try and emulate a stranger or aim for a photo-shopped image of virtual perfection. Don’t forget as you scroll through account after account that no one is or will ever be perfect, the concept of perfect is subjective and lies solely in the eye of the beholder.
I often look through my feed and think, ‘wow that person looks so great’ or ‘I wish I could do that’ and when I feel low that certainly doesn’t help me, and that’s exactly the moment that we need to remind ourselves that we’re not seeing the full picture. We’re seeing a moment in someone else’s life, and like you and I, they’ll have their hang up’s too and their own insecurities, which you probably won’t see. That’s not to say it’s an inauthentic image and social media is totally false, I don’t think it is, it’s just that we tend to post the most exciting parts of our lives – so it’s a heavily edited, curated reality. We seldom post photos of ourselves crying, stressing, dealing with anxiety or anything else, but we all feel that way sometimes. You’re not alone in feeling low some days, and I know as well as the next person how much social media can emphasize those feelings.
So let’s use these platforms to brighten our days and thrive as ourselves, rather than striving to emulate a stranger.
If you have any thoughts or worries about it I’d love to hear them, so please do comment below!