Advice, Happiness, Uncategorized

High On Likes

Ten years ago, if a guy were to approach you in a club, knowing your name and other details about your life, you would run away and scream, “Stalker!”

Now, if a guy does the same, it’s cool; he follows you on Instagram.

It happened to me a few months ago and the guy quickly became aggressive when I apologised for not knowing who he was. It wasn’t cool, it freaked me out.

This angry stranger “followed” my life is pictures. Scrolling through my posts attempting an outside point of view made me feel sick: there were photos of me and my friends in bikinis on holiday, selfies, modelling photos half naked… All which seemed innocent, fun and worst of all normal at the time now seemed seedy and boastful in this weird collection of exhibitionism and narcissism called My Profile.

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It was the last straw on something I’d considered for a while. I disabled my account.

Alarmingly, I’d never thought about Instagram in terms of my privacy. Instead, I’d been building up to disable it after realising that it affected my mental health in a negative way.

Within an hour, no less than four people had sent me texts, ranging from concerned to hurt, asking why I had ‘deleted’ them. I later learned that they had been told this through an app which alerts you when you’re followed or unfollowed by an account. People really are invested in this thing. Relationship dynamics are affected and ego’s are hurt.

Social media is weird. The terms “follow”, “like”, and “share” mean completely different things now than they did years ago, with those phrases and others like “retweet, unfriend, block” becoming everyday conversational dialogue. Social media has become as normal as brushing your teeth.

So many relationships begin, grow, or solely exist in cyberspace. Whole persons and careers are created and maintained on smart phone applications. On a whole, social media is undeniably dumbing us down and running our lives, but I believe Instagram to be the worst; Twitter is a platform for words, a space to be intelligent, funny, witty, charming in 140 characters or less. Facebook, however you use it, is designed to share and keep in contact with friends and family – but Instagram? Instagram puts importance on the physical image. You can write a funny caption, but it’s the photo above it that’s going to get ‘liked’.

Yes, it can be used to share beautiful photographs. But it is photos of people  – particularly attractive women’s faces and bodies – that receive the most likes. Just look at the 11 most liked photo’s on Instagram ever – the physical is of sole-importance.

 

 

It allows us to construct our own fairy-tale image; psychologists use the term ‘self-presentation’, “positioning yourself the way you want to be seen.” A study found that self-presentation is so powerful, that viewing your own social media profiles increases self-esteem.

Compilation of boastful, ‘fun’ posts featuring me as an apparent party girl who holidays more than she’s at home

But Instagram never made me feel good. I’d subconsciously compare myself to everyone else seemingly having a better time, looking their posed, filtered best, usually from the comfort of my own bed while I looked like a frog. We never scroll through Instagram when we’re having fun, do we? I would only scroll when I had nothing better to do, making me receptive to negative feelings of boredom or loneliness before photos had even loaded. I would often close the app feeling undeniably depressed. So why did I continue to use something that was bad for my mental health?

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I’d never thought much about why and what I post until I disabled my account. When I was modelling I used Instagram to network with photographers and promote freebies like skincare and haircuts. I never felt that I was sharing too much of myself. But amongst those arguably useful posts are a few that, after my reflective time out, I now see as nauseatingly narcissistic.

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I actually thought I had made it acceptable because I was being philosophical in my caption, lol

 

Why at 23 years old did I feel that it was necessary to post a photo of myself in a bikini, alone, while on holiday with my boyfriend? The honest answers are:

  1. I wanted my followers to know I was on holiday.
  2. I obviously didn’t think I looked bad, or else I wouldn’t have posted it – I wanted my followers to see that I looked alright.
  3. I knew that a photo of a girl in a bikini will get the likes that, at the time, I unknowingly craved.

It all sounds arrogant, but are you honestly going to tell me that you can’t relate? Chances are you, your friends, your girlfriend, have posted photos for the same reasons. Why else would you take time out of your day to share a photo of yourself to the internet?

We are an insecure generation, constantly feeding off likes and follows for some sense of empty validation from strangers. Although I may look confident in that pink bikini, and at the time I thought I was – if I hadn’t needed validation then I wouldn’t have posted it. My ‘racy’ photos littering my feed now make me feel uncomfortable, especially now realising that strangers have studied them.

Compilation of meaningless, strictly narcissistic, vainglorious, egomaniacal posts posted by yours truly

After my much needed detox, the image of a girl alone in a bathroom seems like the epitome of vanity and shameless narcissism. I want to scream at her, “No one cares! Go jump in the pool! Go live your life! No one needs to see that!”. Yet, 99% of sexualised female celebrities and models do exactly the same thing and are praised for it.

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I recommend every one –even those who think I’m dramatic for thinking an app could affect my mental health – carry out a social media detox for a week and see if you notice a difference in how you think or live your life. I personally have so much more time for productivity; all the time you spend taking photos, or thinking about what photos to post and simply looking into other people’s lives, really does add up.

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The main thing that was putting me off disabling or deleting was FOMO and keeping up appearances; almost as if not posting was in inkling to the outside world that all was not well. But trust me, you are missing out way more on actual real life than what other people are up to. And those ‘likes’ lose importance strangely quickly. After six weeks, I reactivated my account, but now peeking into others’ lives feels really invasive. I have also completely lost that need to post; once or twice I have almost posted something and then asked myself, why?

Close the apps, put down the phone and enjoy the moment. If you’re going to take photos, print them, and give thought to the ones you do post. Don’t try to create an image of the perfect life – live your version of your perfect life.

The only person you should let validate your life is yourself.

PS. Follow @_theluckyleo on Instagram (no selfies, I promise)

ALL IMAGES TAKEN FROM GOOGLE IMAGES & MY OWN INSTAGRAM 

 

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Happiness

Generation FLAKE

It’s 10 o’clock Friday night. I’m standing in a sea of discarded clothes, wearing the 99th outfit I’ve tried on. Kiss FM is getting me geared up. I’m weighing up the options of saving money by wobbling around the underground in heels, or fucking-it and ordering an Uber. I’ve got that unbeatable friday night feeling, ready to dance and drink the troubles of the week away; a night I may not remember with the people I won’t forget xoxoxo

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And I’m lying. Although it really is 10 o’clock on a Friday night, my room really is trashed and I really am dressed up, I’m not going out. Because every single one of the people I was supposed to be having a great night with have cancelled on me last minute.

I’m sure you’re aware of the intricacies of flakey friend behaviour:

  1. Sudden avoidance / silence on the topic of the plan
  2. Beginning the light hinting; usually of sickness, tiredness, or some warning of potential plan ruiner i.e family emergency or third party you couldn’t possibly confront

Then, as the time nears, whether it be hour or minute before, they continue with an obviously very, er, believeable lie, something along the lines of

  1. Argh so annoying but I am waiting to see what’s going on because someone is coming to fix my cat flap and they’re running late and I really can’t leave the house without someone fixing my cat flap but I’ll still come if the cat flap fixer arrives in time
  2. I’m sooooooooo sorry but I’ve had a headache/been tired all week and I really don’t want to go out now honestly I’m so sorry for flaking sorry

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This is beginning to be such a regular occurrence in my life, that I’m hardly phased. Sometimes I’ll be super excited for a party, event or meet up, and then everyone will cancel, and I’ll be so disappointed that I’ll sulk and get a takeaway and maybe have an imaginary rant at them in my head. Sometimes I’ll be so eager to carry out the plan that I’ll go out alone, surely bumping into someone I know or know of and joining their party.

Tonight, I can’t be arsed for a sulk or a totally empowering act of independence. Because I wasn’t bothered about the actual act of going out or even FOMO. I just wanted to have fun with those particular people.

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Sadly, I’m in no position to stand with my arms crossed and my brows furrowed exclaiming, “I HATE PEOPLE THAT CANCEL”, because, I too, am shamefully, seasonally notorious for it.

I wouldn’t like to think of myself as a flakey person. In all honesty, I’m just kind of selfish. When I make a plan, I’m never making it while consciously thinking, “nah, that’s not going to happen”. I make it whole heartedly believing that I will be there, happy and willing, at the propositioned time.

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But when the date and time comes and I’m just not feeling it, I cannot under any condition enthuse myself into carrying out the activity that I have planned, whether it be a full blown party or a casual coffee. Because honestly, somedays I just do not want to speak to any humans. I’m hoping you can somewhat relate.

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I’m beginning to wonder if it’s a generational problem. The idea of a “plan” seems to have faded and shape shifted into more of a very “light suggestion” rather than an almost concrete scheduled arrangement. I’d say less than half of the social plans I make actually go ahead. I cancel on friends, friends cancel on me, in a never-ending inoffensively unreliable cycle; and I’m actually starting to get really fucking bored of it.

So why does flaking happen so often?

There’s no escaping the fact that we are the iPhone generation. There’s a lot of things I’d do or say in a text that I wouldn’t as easily say in real life. For a lot of people, confronting someone in a text is a lot easier than confronting the same person face to face, and I think the same goes for plan cancelling. When I’m flaking, it’s rare that I feel confident and relaxed enough in my decision to actually call the person – like, actually say with my actual voice, “I can’t come”. Sometimes, I’ll even be a proper weak bitch and ignore phone calls, resulting in a text return of “Sorry was in the other room, I can’t come… etc etc”. Getting out of a plan is now as easy as a few taps of your finger tips. You can even completely avoid any anger or confrontation about it by turning your phone off! Yay!

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There’s also the constant access we have to each other. We can basically strategically map out when the best time to cancel would be: leading the person on enough for them to believe your excuse while also kindly leaving them with enough time to make other plans on their own. You can also immediately cancel while caught up “in the moment” of your excuse using your phone, i.e, “OMG I just fell over and cut my knee and it really hurts, I want to go home and go to bed sorry”.

Imagine for a second what it would be like if we couldn’t use our phones or laptops or tablets to cancel. Imagine if the plan was made, and the next time you’d be able to talk to the person was at the chosen time you planned to see each other. It’s highly unlikely that you just wouldn’t turn up, leaving them stood up with an unavoidably completely ruined day or night. You’d feel too guilty. Technology gives us way too much opportunity to cancel.

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A second potential problem is our overwhelming 2016 life #goals. I am definitely guilty of over scheduling, truly believing at the time of planning that I can fit it all in. Truthfully, I’m easily exhausted, physically and emotionally, and after seeing one person for a lunch date, the thought of seeing another friend for a coffee has the potential to send me into an adult temper tantrum. We push ourselves to achieve social enlightenment; seeing as many friends and doing as many fun, Instagram worthy things as possible, when as human beings we have other needs greater than social.

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And then there’s another issue, one that we are all guilty of avoiding and sugar coating – social anxieties. We are the anxious generation, with social anxiety playing a huge part in our lives, and not just the cliche “geeky” among us – People that you maybe wouldn’t necessarily expect to suffer from social anxiety are indeed often crippled by it.

I could be described as confident; I “cool”, “fun” friends. I’m a model. I’ve worked in nightclubs. I’m alright at public speaking. I can scrub up alright, too. But there have been many, many nights, that I have cancelled on a plan because I couldn’t bare to be around people, didn’t like any of my clothes, felt too fat, too ugly, too sad, to go out and pretend to be happy.

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And nine times out of ten, when I’ve cancelled, I haven’t explained that to the person. I’ve said I don’t feel well, I’m tired, or something has come up. Because, well, it’s easier than people seeing the cracks in the perfect picture we all paint of our lives, and thinking you’re a sad, imperfect freak who can’t handle a night out.

Sometimes, I myself am shocked by the sudden surge of these moods. Sane, rational me tells me I’m being crazy and that this side of me is stopping me from enjoying life. Of course, insane, irrational me doesn’t care, turns her phone off and happily jumps into bed with Netflix and vegan dessert.

I’m working on it. Slowly but surely, the amount that I flake for this reason is diminishing. Although, it’s funny – before I began to see the problem in myself, I never considered others feeling the same. I either believed their excuses, or assumed they genuinely couldn’t be bothered to spend time with me. Now that I’m honest to myself about my feelings, I can see it in other people. Now, when my best friend gives me a weird hint at an excuse I ask out right if he’s ok and if he’s cancelling, to which he’ll reply with the true reason for his flaking, which I can almost always relate to.

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Our generation, anxious and flakey, also has a big problem with honesty. Excuses are really boring. Be honest when you make the plan, i.e I’m not sure how I’ll feel that day, or be honest at the time, i.e I don’t feel like going out. I can’t speak for everyone, but I personally find it difficult to be angry at an honest person. Even if my night has been ruined. And who knows, being honest with yourself may also help to cure yourself of the social struggle. Whether you’re happy out with your friends or happy alone, just be happy.

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