The Downside of Social Media

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MISC_SocialMediaOftentimes people are shocked to learn that I struggle with self-confidence and bouts of negativity. I have a personal Instagram that documents my life as a dancer as well as a lifestyle Instagram account that promotes a healthy lifestyle. I stress positivity and expression of self-love through respecting your body by fueling it properly.

I post colorful images and healthy cuisine. If you were to simply look at my Instagram page, you may feel tempted to compare your own diet to that of my “perfect” one. I’m here to tell you, that I am definitely not perfect. I eat chocolate after dinner, I drink loads of coffee, and on vacation in Paris I definitely indulged in a few too many croissants. In short, you only see what I choose to post, not the whole picture.

Through the prevalence of social media channels such as Instagram, we are constantly bombarded with carefully curated images that we compare our own lives to. These “perfect” accounts gain more and more traction because people like to think that that perfection truly exists, when it doesn’t.

The problem with comparing yourself to perfect strangers online is that you’re comparing your ups and downs to just their ups. Social media is far from reality. It enables one to project an idealized image of themself that they want others to perceive them as.

I strive to be a role model for my little sisters, and all young dancers that may look up to me as a professional ballerina. As a result of my own admiration of professional dancers as a young girl, I believe that setting a good example is part of the job description of being a ballerina. I would never wish to intentionally contribute to an unhealthy culture of projecting false realities. That being said, it does happen. I don’t post about it on Instagram when I have a bad day, fall out of a turn, get a blister, eat too much junk, or get in a fight with a family member. I post images of good memories, travels, yummy food, and performance photos (trust me you don’t want me to post the bloopers of those). I only post images that convey an overall sense of happiness, because the negative parts of my life are not for strangers online to ogle at. That’s not to say that I don’t experience the same emotions as everyone else: confidence issues, disappointment, monotony, frustration, and rejection to name a few.

Saying this makes me feel ancient, but when I was in school, Instagram didn’t exist. I’m glad it didn’t. There are aspects of social media that are exclusive and harmful. For example, promoting unhealthy physical ideals through edited photos, or proof of social events that you may have been left out of. It’s detrimental to compare yourself to others to begin with, but start adding filters and photo effects and that’s just a recipe for disaster.  I’m asking you to take a step back and consider the big picture. As Steven Furtick says, “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” Next time you find yourself jealous of someone’s “perfect” life, remember that you’re looking at his or her lives through a filter.

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