Before I start, this post will have probably been sat unpublished for a while. I have a fear of admitting or talking about myself and what I’m about to publish, because although for years I’ve shared myself online, I’m a very private person. I’m cripplingly embarrassed (if that’s even a thing) of the ‘real’ me. I know I shouldn’t be embarrassed, but I am. So if you are reading this, please respect what a huge, massive step this is to share this online because unlike a lot of people, I’m not so comfortable with mental health due to the bad experiences I’ve had with it and how people around me have responded to me, and in terms of mental health, from my own personal experiences, there’s a long way to go. But that’s for another time…
Ever since Catfish became a thing on TV, we’ve always associated it negatively. People pretending to be someone else online to make someone like them, bad people, people who lie and trick? But aren’t we all catfish? Okay, of course not to the extreme that the show portrays but effectively if you own a social media account at all, we are catfish.
Don’t get me wrong, I love social media, especially Instagram, so much so I want to pursue a career in it! But recently I’ve started to really realise what a negative effect social media has had on my life and my feeling of self worth. Now hear me out, a few months ago I would defend social media until I had no more words to say, it’s only bad if you take it to extremes if you take it seriously, it’s just fun. Even when Instagram star Essena O’Neill took to Instagram to slam the reality of being Instagram famous, I felt she was over reacting. But recently, whilst trying to overcome anxiety and waves of depression (that I’ve never once shared on the internet) I’ve realised that my life I portray on any of my social media isn’t me. And how much social media has control over how I feel and view myself, as well as others.
Okay, so yes I look like me, the pictures you see on here are of me, but a very warped version of me. Before posting photos online I either get someone to take around 30 photos for my blog, I then select which ones I like, zooming in on my face and body to check I look okay, before posting. If it’s a selfie I’ll pop it into an editing app, I’ll whiten the background and my teeth, I’ll rub away darkness under my eyes and blemishes on my face (leaving my beauty spot for realism) and then for no real need at all, add sparkle to my eyes. Then I’ll post, generally expecting at least 100+ likes on a photo of myself, a few comments to make me feel good about myself, I’ve never really received less but if I did I would most likely feel crap about it and maybe delete it in a few hours.
My photos, like yours, are my show reel, the parts of my life I want everyone to see, to show everyone I’m having an amazing life, I wear nice clothes, I go out, I’ve achieved something (even something so pointless like getting my hair done) and I want to show everyone because I want you to think I’m pretty and leading the best life. I’m not. No one is. You saw me having drinks. I rarely go out. You saw my new hair. It took me hours to get ready. You saw my make-up. It’s edited. You see me in the outfit I put together. I’m posting it in my pyjamas, I’ve also not showered. You saw what I made in fashion. Not the hours I spend crying in the toilets about it. You saw me with friends. Even though I spend the year feeling incredibly lonely. You saw me as the teenage girl who had the standard teenage girl life, when in reality I’ve spend the last year with serious anxiety and, at points, depression. But you’d never know right?
For so long I thought social media was amazing and great and would defend it to any oldie trying to knock it! Then everyone went to uni, and I was left at home. At first I didn’t think about it, but then I’d be sat at home, all ready for bed on a Friday night but when I swiped open my phone it felt like everyone else was out, sharing themselves dancing on Snapchat, uploading outfit and makeup selfies on Instagram and Facebook, whilst little me was alone, left behind. I think as a teenager it’s worse, especially when social anxiety plays a part, because I never went out to clubs because I was scared and my brain would go away with me. Too complicated to explain in words. You feel like you don’t fit in, because that’s what teenagers do and my life, because of that, was boring. So, I would make sure to post on Instagram and Snapchat whenever I went anywhere or did anything because for some reason I thought people were thinking I was a loser and maybe had fallen off the face of the earth. I was my way to say ‘look at me!’ I’m having an amazing life without you!’. But in reality I would cry about it.
And I guess that’s my point. I’m a catfish, distorting my own life for the benefit of others and my own self worth, just like many of you reading this. Don’t get me wrong, I have an amazing life, and what I chose to show are some of the best memories, but it’s not my whole life. We have stories we will never tell. We will feel awful about ourselves and see a beautiful girl online that makes us feel crap and ugly. We will be sat alone and see everyone else our age out and you were not invited, and see your life as boring and yourself, inadequate. We are all Catfish, without really realising we all are, which is kind of funny now I’ve come to the realisation on the negative side to social media.
The internet has given me a voice and confidence with blogging, I’ve also made friends and I’m not going to stop blogging and posting photos online because it is what I enjoy doing. But I guess my point is, take what you see online with a pinch of salt, if you know full well that the selfie you posted doesn’t look like you 99% of the time, neither do most of the people you follow online, if your makeup doesn’t look perfect like the photo you just shared, why would we think that other people’s looks amazing everyday. I get told a lot my hair looks amazing, but honestly if you could see it now! If someone’s life seems perfect, just remember we are all just showing such a small portion of our lives, our best bits. I am from the social media generation, and no, I’m not going to stop, but what is going to stop is my feeling of needing to prove myself online, to compare my life to others and to let everyone know that what I share online, like everyone reading this, from a friend with a few hundred followers to celebrities with 1 million, is never the full story.
It’s taken a long time to realise how an innocent scroll on my phone, and snapping a photo, can have such power over my life and metal health. It’s funny how stupid it seems, like we all know it’s not real the whole time, yet we let ourselves get wrapped up in a pretend world, altering ourselves either in real life or through editing.
I guess it’s just something we don’t really think about, but maybe we should.
And if you actually read all that, thank you. I hope you got something from it, because I’ve never been so nervous about posting something this honest in my whole life.
Until next time,