It’s International Women’s Day and it has me thinking about me and what it feels like to me to be a woman in 2018, the answer? I feel invisible most days. (Don’t switch off, this isn’t a pity post!)
Like most bloggers I am trying to make sense of social media and get it to work for me, but in a sea of millions of voices I feel lost and I feel invisible. There are many days that I go to post a photo or story on Instagram, but I don’t because something holds me back. I start second guessing myself – I’m not young and trendy enough, I don’t have a designer wardrobe, I’m not pretty enough, my house isn’t perfect, I don’t have a cute toddler or a cool business that I’m trying to promote, I’m not very good at putting make-up on so I don’t have that flawless look that so many do have, I don’t have anything interesting or of any worth to say, I don’t fit in, so I don’t post.
Now I love social media – especially Instagram – I think it is a great way to connect with people, to get inspiration on all manner of things and to hear messages that people are trying to get out there, but it always leaves me feeling like I’m back at school, on the periphery of the friendship groups but never quite being fully accepted in to them. All social media, but especially Instagram, feels like a popularity contest. You’re either in with the cool kids, which means that they only have to mention you once and thousands of followers will come your way and up your numbers into the heady heights, or your not, in which case you have to work bloody hard at getting any body to see your posts, let alone like them or start following you. That means the majority of small accounts get overlooked by pretty much everybody. Don’t even get me started on the joke that is ‘follow/unfollow’ whereby an account will follow you so that you follow them back, only for them to unfollow you a few days later. These accounts do this so that their numbers look hugely inflated because they have thousands more followers than they are following. I hate it and the accounts that do it to me will simply end up on my blocked list.
It’s ok, I get how it works and it doesn’t bother me, it frustrates me yes, but it doesn’t bother me. I don’t lie awake at night wondering what I’m doing wrong, why nobody likes me, but for many others – especially youngsters – it does bother them. They do feel hurt when they don’t get any likes on a picture but their friend gets a hundred hearts in 10 minutes, they can’t cope when a nasty comment is left on a photo, which then prompts others to do the same. Kids don’t have the coping mechanism to deal with these issues because that part of their brain is still developing, so they take it very personally and sometimes with catastrophic results. We need to teach children not only how to stop and report cyber bullying, but also how to cope with that and the way that social media makes them feel. They see the photos or stories from their favourite Instagrammers/YouTubers or whatever and they feel bad because they can’t keep up with them. They can’t afford to do hauls, or maybe they don’t have the expensive make-up pallet or the hot new item of clothing and they start to feel worthless. The more they see these things the more they go down the rabbit hole and spiral into a world of depression that they can’t control. We need to be talking to our kids regularly about social media, how it makes them feel and the impact it has. We need to teach them that if they don’t like the way something makes them feel then they must stop following them, or leave the platform altogether, and I mean must, because otherwise the temptation will always be there for them to continue looking at these posts. We need to teach them that they have the choice to stop watching if something makes them feel bad – it’s not the fault of the person posting the photo or video, they’ve done nothing wrong – but the person watching needs to step away and to realise there’s a much bigger world out there than just these people, and that somewhere there is their own tribe who will be sharing things that are much more relatable and suitable for that individual, we have to help our kids find their tribes and understand that social media is nothing more than a snapshot of what is going on in a tiny part of the world at any given time.
So this is my way of helping to make our children see another side of social media, this is my shout out to all those that aren’t in the cool club, that don’t have thousands of followers and who feel invisible every day – this is me;
I am Sam, I will be 40 this year. I live in a house that we are renovating, it’s almost finished but I don’t take many photos of it because I don’t have things like pictures on the walls or a mantlepiece around my fire yet. We’ll get them but it will take time and that’s ok, so I will start adding pictures of my ‘unfinished’ house to show that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be added to my wall. I don’t put very many pictures of myself on my Instagram as I don’t like the way I look, because I don’t have great make-up skills and I definitely don’t have the latest clothes, but I’m going to be brave and will add more photos of me to show that you don’t have to look like a model to share your selfies. I am a huge Disney fan (you might have guessed that if you’ve had a look around my blog), but I don’t talk about it that much on social media because I worry that people will think I’m too old to like Disney and that it’s for kids. Well sod it, it’s my life and if that’s what I like that’s what I’m going to share from now on! I am tired of trying to ‘cultivate’ my wall so that it only has one type of photo on it, or one theme, that’s not who I am, I like all sorts of things and I want to share that. I don’t want to be pigeon holed into one category because that’s the done thing, my blog is called Memories and Mayhem because a lot of the time our lives are filled with mayhem, but we make memories while we deal with it, that’s what I want to show, that’s who I am. By being more honest about who I am I might gain more followers or I might lose them, but at the end of the day I know that I am sharing who I really am and I’m proud to say This Is Me!
If you want to join in and show who you really are, then add #thisisme to your social media post so that I can see it and give it some love. Maybe if we all started being more open, less perfect, and shared more love with each other we could make the world a much nicer place and teach children that it’s great to be an individual!