Social media vs. Reality: You are more than just a number

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This was just as uncomfortable as it looks…

Since I began blogging more in the past year, I found myself getting increasingly engrossed with numbers. The number of comments, the number of followers, the number of views, the number of likes… the list goes on.

I began basing my worth on the digits on my phone and laptop screen. Getting a thrill when a picture on Instagram hit a hundred likes or my blog got a larger amount of views than usual – so, still not very much.

Sadly, more numbers with blogging equals more opportunities here. No one wants a blogger with just 1,000 people following them. Heck, I’m sure soon enough a whopping 10k won’t even be enough.

But lately, I’ve realised I am more than just these numbers. Now, those of you out there who are sensible will be able to gage the line between random people on the internet tapping ‘follow’ or ‘like’ can probably stop reading here. I’d love to be like you and be able to stop comparing myself to those with 5,000, 10,000, 50,000 followers, dissecting every little thing I’m doing wrong or why I can’t be ‘as good’ as you. The truth is, we’re all the same at the end of the day. We’re all humans, we’re all regular people who were shaped by the experiences and opportunities we’ve had in our lives.

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To be honest, this sexy Phuket sunset from my Instagram is just to break up the text because I’ve decided to ramble my heart out

Yet, I think there’s a reason why anxiety and depression are on the rise and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it’s occurring more and more frequently as social media, technology and materialism slowly continue to take over our lives. Now, I’m not saying the mental illnesses I’ve mentioned becoming more common are solely due to this reason – I’ve had anxiety for as long as I can remember. In fact, in some ways social media has helped those suffering with anxiety or depression more than ever before. Allowing these topics to become a conversation rather than a ‘condition’ with a stigma attached to it, is one of the biggest blessings. I remember watching Zoella’s videos about anxiety three years ago and feeling a wave of relief wash over me as she openly described her anxiety and made me want to scream ‘OH MY GOSH. I’M ACTUALLY NOT ALONE! I’M NOT GOING MENTAL. THERE ARE REALLY OTHER PEOPLE OUT THERE WHO EXPERIENCE THESE HORRIFIC FEELINGS!’

However, it’s a double-edged sword. Zoella piqued my interest in vloggers, I began watching haul after haul and look book after look book. The brilliant and awful thing about bloggers is that their posts are often aspirational. With a Chanel 2.55 flap bag casually slung over their slender shoulders, dressed head-to-toe in designer ensembles and a nonchalant look as though walking through Notting Hill’s pastel-fronted houses was an average day for them. Though I look in awe and admire the beauty and effort put into these snaps, I often feel a little bit rubbish about myself after seeing the pictures on Instagram or in blog posts. I think; here’s me in my size 12 Topshop Joni jeans that are practically bursting at the seams, because I indulge in a little too much junk food, unlike the aspirational bloggers who post pictures of sugar-glazed doughnuts and the most mouthwatering cupcakes, when they probably manage to have a little self-control and bin all of  them post-shoot.

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You’re more likely to find bowls of Nesquik than acai bowl on my Instagram!

I’m not too sure where I’m going with this post, to be honest. But I think what I’m trying to say is that it’s very easy to forget that what is portrayed on social media by bloggers, editors and even your best friends, is a mere snippet of that person’s day. Images that may look casually sprawled across a marble background have probably been perfectly constructed – in what probably took two painstaking hours to get just right – and edited to within an inch of their life. I know this, because I’ve been guilty of it too. Many-a-dinner has gone cold, many-a-guest has got fed up with me saying ‘yep, yepI’m almost done’… when we both know I’m going to complain about the lighting and angle three more times until I’ve got the ‘perfect’ shot.

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See this delicious cup of tea? Yeah, it was cold by the time I was done with this shot.

Losing my identity

I’ve realised I’ve began trying to make my life look perfect, and hashtagging pictures to the absolute limit – no, literally, 30 hashtags each. I used to love scrolling through Instagram and gasping at just how beautiful every shot was, but since I began blogging, I think it’s killed the joy of it for me. Now I’m critiquing every single picture of mine and wondering how I could’ve edited it better or taken it from a different angle.

I adore creativity, I’m a writer by profession so it goes without saying, but what I don’t like is how seeing these ‘perfect’ images makes me forget that the people posting them probably do wear joggers and a t-shirt in the evenings, too, and have the occasional breakout of spots. My boyfriend often has to remind me that most models and celebs also look like normal people without makeup and I realise  – after a quick Google to verify his outrageous claims – that yeah, if I had pro makeup artists doing my makeup – rather than me slapping on my hilariously simple daily makeup – I’d probably look pretty smokin’ as well.

No, these did not magically land on that Primark throw perfectly. I changed the folds of the fabric, and rearranged this flatlay about six times!

No, these did not magically land on that Primark throw perfectly. I changed the folds of the fabric, and rearranged this flatlay about six times!

I’ve been tempted lately to delete Instagram because of how rubbish it makes me feel, but I think this post has been a little theraputic for me and allowed me to teach myself – and maybe one or two of you reading – in the most longest and convoluted way possible, that you really are worth so much more than your follower count and the number of likes your selfie gets. You never know how perfect the lives of those bloggers with thousands or millions of followers truly are, and even if they do live the perfect life, they’ve probably earned it and most importantly everyone is different.

Sadly, I’m not a classy, fabulous blogger who cooks dinner every night, goes for 10k runs every morning and looks polished to a tee – unless T-shirts, which are a staple in my wardrobe, count? I’ve realised I need to stop comparing myself to every other blogger. Food flatlays for me currently  – though I know I need to eat less junk – are more likely to consist of a McDonald’s meal sprawled across their napkins (though @MissKatyEnglish absolutely nails McDonald’s flatlays as you can see from the shot below) than a superfood salad. I’m beginning to understand that portraying #LifeGoals on Instagram may not be working for me, I’m not massively aspirational and hey, that’s OK… I think?

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A blogging epiphany!

I’ve got my flaws, but I need to stop myself from using them as an obstacle. I avoid blogging these days because I have no idea how to make my posts look as good as others’. I think, though I am creative, my talent lies with words rather than pictures given that I am a journalist. So, maybe it’s time I just started posting more natural photos on Instagram, and writing my thoughts and feelings on here rather than feeling low about myself when my pictures look horrific and I’m not at the most exclusive events because my little following just doesn’t cut it! Ladies who are smashing the photography game; I salute you, your perseverance and hard work!

That’s not to say quality isn’t important to me, I bought my Olympus PEN with full intentions to learn how to use it, but as long as I’m progressing, that’s all that counts. Rather than what I’ve been doing lately, which is not doing anything on my blog/Instgram at all for fear of it failing, I need to remember that everything takes time. Not all bloggers were instantly amazing at photography or putting out content to a strict schedule. The reason I began blogging was because it allowed me to share my thoughts and feelings, and that’s what a lot of people who have read my posts have said they loved – much to my shock.

And, though I lost sight of why I started this rambling post, I need to remember that I am so much more than the number of followers I have and that that figure does not dictate my worth. So whether I have one or one hundred people reading my posts, if it makes me feel better getting it onto this page, then why not! About 10 years ago I – or anyone else – wouldn’t have even known what Instagram was, let alone cared about why I didn’t have thousands of followers. So why should I allow it to matter so much now?

What are your thoughts – if you’ve made it this far – on my ramblings? I feel much better after getting all of that off my chest, and it’s also part of the many reasons why I haven’t been blogging or Instagramming much, lately.

Thanks for reading!

Surena x

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7 Comments

  1. 17th September 2016 / 4:24 PM

    This is the first time I’m visiting your blog, and it really didn’t need anything else than this post for me to fall totally in love with your blog and your attitude as well. I have been struggling with a lot of the things you write about, and reading this post just made me feel so relieved. Let’s just enjoy life in our size 12 jeans and be happy and perfect just the way we are! xx

    • surenasays
      1st October 2016 / 9:28 PM

      Thank you so much, Selja. This really means a lot to me! I’m glad I’m not alone, when writing this post, I was worried I was the only person who felt like this so it makes me feel a little less crazy knowing other people have the same struggles sometimes, too. You’re right! Life in size 12 jeans isn’t so bad and we really should be happy just the way we are! Thanks again for the lovely comment :) xx

  2. Alexia
    5th December 2016 / 12:59 PM

    Hi!
    I just stumbled upon your blog googling blogger dubai. I love this post! Very recognisable!
    I haven’t even started my blog yet but feel frustrated about the little amount of followers on instagram from time to time (200… blush 😉 I try really hard to get it up, but as you say… does that really matter? Most people i actually know are not even on instagram. And a lot of them like me for real :-) Much more important!
    Thx for sharing
    Alexia

    • surenasays
      1st January 2017 / 1:29 PM

      Hi Alexia!
      Sorry for the very late reply, I’ve been neglecting my blog for quite a while. Thank you so much for commenting, and you’ve summed it up so well at the end. People who know you like you, and as long as you have people around you who care about you and think you’re a good person – who cares if you have 200 or 200,000 followers :). Good luck with your blog (if/when you start it), too! x

      • Alexia
        1st January 2017 / 1:50 PM

        Well Surena i really appreciate you answering, especially because it has been a while! Happy new year !

  3. 21st February 2017 / 6:45 AM

    Wow, this is just an amazing post. I can totally relate, I naturally have an obsessive personality and when my “following” doesn’t seem to grow no matter how hard I try, it used to get to me BUT now I trust the content I create and I know I do my best. That is okay for me and that’s all that matter in the long term, me. If i help only one person, that is okay, quality not numbers. My likes don’t define me!

    Thank you for sharing.

    • surenasays
      29th March 2017 / 7:35 AM

      Sorry lovely, I just saw this comment. It really is a hard thing to see past – for what it’s worth, your Instagram posts are always impressive! You’re very welcome and I’m glad you liked the post :).

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