Living In A Social Media BubbleThursday, November 10, 2016
Social media, it's a funny old world isn't it? It's hard to believe that we used to live without it, I can't believe that I grew up without the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. How did I cope? Being a full time blogger, I feel I am wrapped up in social media than perhaps most people. I probably spend about 90% of my day/evenings online, my phone is rarely away from my side and to me things like Instagram themes, Twitter meme's, are all normal and part of my everyday life.
But after the whole Brexit situation, I got thinking about social media. I realised that it was encasing me in a bubble. A bubble which I had created. But I'd been in this bubble for so long that I'd forgotten it wasn't real life, I wasn't surrounded by a realistic proportion of people and after we've just seen Trump being elected President, I realised it again. In the few days before the EU Vote and the American Election, I'd had conversations with people, 'I just can't see us leaving the EU/Trump winning as no one wants it to happen/him to win.' Then both mornings, I've woken up shocked that they did happen, and I couldn't understand why, when my Twitter time line was full of outrage.
It then dawned on me, that on social media, we surround ourselves with like minded people. Why would we follow people we don't like, or who don't share the same views as us? Heck, I'm honest enough to admit that over the years, I've blocked, unfollowed or muted people because I : A: Don't like them B: Don't agree with their thoughts or C: Don't like what they've said to me. That is the beauty of social media, people can be out of your life in seconds (unlike real life where it's not so easy to just remove people from your life and in some cases it could result in a lengthy prison sentence haha) but I did realise that my Twitter timeline doesn't account for the whole world.
It's a scary thought, when you realise you are in a bubble, and it's scary to think that so many people have a different view or opinion to you. I'm not going to start following people who annoy me or have different views to me, because I don't want to be wound up every time I'm on Twitter, but it's made me think differently about social media, and perhaps to look further than my timeline. It's something to be aware of.
But whilst I've been sucked into this social media bubble, it's not just the whole surrounding myself with like minded people, that has got me. Slightly more unrelated to recent events, but something I have been thinking about recently, is how obsessed we all can be about our social media accounts.
I recently, went into a bit of a meltdown about my YouTube subscribers. I've always been conscious that they don't grow as fast as other YTers. Am I failure? Am I boring? Am I ugly? Are questions that have gone through my mind when I've been checking my subscriber count, it seemed like every other Jack and Sally on YouTube were gaining subscribers faster and it left me feeling sad, depressed, worthless.
YouTube then very cleverly landed a video called 'Everyone's Channel Is Dying' in my recommended feed, which is weird cause it's almost like YT knew I needed to see that video (are they in my brain? Could this be a real life Black Mirror episode?) But I watched it and something stuck with me. Lucy Moon (the YTer behind the video) spoke about how someone had recently told her that subscribers and followers are vanity metrics. They are essentially numbers on a screen. We never see all of our subscribers in one room, or irl, but why do we put so much emphasis on what is a number. It got me thinking and made me feel almost a bit ridiculous on how I'd let myself have days where I didn't want to get out of bed cause I was so fed up about my YT, I'd realised they are just numbers on a screen. They don't define me, and they don't define you. The number of subscribers you have is important to some extent but it doesn't suddenly make your work better, or makes you a better person. I have over 40,000 subscribers on YT, 40,000 that's an insane amount. But the YT metrics had made me feel that was awful, rubbish.
It's like Instagram, why have I felt so deflated when a picture of a greasy pizza got double the likes than a picture of my face? I realised that the number of likes on a selfie or outfit picture does not define how beautiful you are. Would you call someone like Kendall Jenner ugly if she only got one like on an Instagram selfie? No. So why do I think 'Oh I must look horrendous as this photo hasn't got many likes' and why do I care so much about strangers who I've never met, liking my photo? It's a weird thing once you really think about it and it just made me think 'why do I allow myself to get worked up?' In real life, people don't really care about that kind of thing. Do you think when you die, people will say 'oh remember that time her selfie got no likes?' No of course not.
We went to a friends birthday dinner last year and we did the whole conversation of 'what do you do' round the table. I had to explain blogging and most of the table couldn't get their head round it. Most of them who were just a few years older than me, said they could barely work Facebook never mind a blog. It made me realise that I was in a blogging bubble, a bubble where we discuss VSCO cam filters like they're our favourite biscuits, if you lose Instagram followers you feel a failure, you eat out at places that are purely Instagramable. I realised, this isn't real life? I'm in a weird bubble.
I mean don't get me wrong, I love social media, I love my job, I love being a bit obsessive over my Instagram theme, but what I've realised is that there is more to life than this bubble.
The other night ( I promise this is my final story haha) we went to see Bastille (who were amazing btw!) And on the drive over to Birmingham, Henry asked me if was going to Snapchat the concert, 'Nah I want to enjoy it.' I replied. As for the past few concerts I've been to, I've been so busy on focusing on doing a vlog, or snapchatting that I haven't really enjoyed the concert. But as soon as the band came on, I found myself reaching for my phone to snapchat, I did a few songs and then got a little stressed when my snaps wouldn't post. I had to have a word with myself that it didn't matter if they didn't post, I saved the story to my memories so I could watch it back. I put my phone away and enjoyed the concert, but as I looked around it made me feel almost a little sad to see an audience so engulfed by their phones. The man in front of me, Facebook Live videoed the whole concert pretty much, a girl a few rows in front of me kept checking her Instagram notifications, a lady down the row took pictures and videoed the whole time meaning she looked at the concert through her phone.
It made me realise that why do we feel like we need to live through our phones. Is it like, if we don't capture it, we won't remember. It's not like we'll wake up the next day and forget. I guess it's something to look back on, but do we need every event we go to on the cloud? But it's not just concerts, it's like eating out, why do I insist on taking a flat lay picture when food comes out, why do I feel it's a waste when I've gone out and not taken any Instagram pictures. It's like that meme that says 'if you went to the gym and didn't check in on Facebook, did you really go?'
I guess recently I have been thinking about social media, and how I have become really consumed by it. I feel like my constant refreshing of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram has filled my brain up. As I've said before, recently my head feels like a computer with too many tabs open. I want to start enjoying life and not through my phone so much. I don't like that I am so obsessed sometimes about followers, and although it's my job, it doesn't have to be my life. I'm not going to put my phone in a drawer and never open it again, I'm just going to be more aware of 'the bubble' and to give myself a pep talk when I need one.
I don't really know if this post made any sense, but it's just some thoughts that I have had recently. Over Christmas, I think I'm going to take a break from my laptop and my phone, I think I want to start 2017 with a fresh and clear brain, this year hasn't been a great one for work, or my confidence and I don't want next year to be the same.
I'd love to know your thoughts on this, how do you escape the social media bubble. How do you feel about this all?