Fatima Sul, Student and writer from the National Capital Region in Canada, discusses the pressures associated with 'living your best life' out on social media.
As a member of Gen Z, I’ve practically have had my whole life documented. From my first steps that are burned on a disc to my meticulously organized album app detailing my most recent trip, the technology used store my existence have grown just as much as I have. Bulky videos cameras mark my infancy, sleek digital cameras captured my awkward preteen years and now, my cellphone snaps even the most mundane parts of my life.
Living in the digital age means being hyper-aware of the image you present online and actively curating one. Social media has allowed us to present a version of ourselves that doesn’t always exist in the real world.
For some, the contrast between their real-life self and their online self is so extreme that they may choose to solely focus on the Internet persona they’ve created. Instagram is where this disparity is most severe.
At its core, the application is simply a highlight reel where people go to show the best parts of their life. And while most people know this, the feeling of despair that envelops us when scrolling through a wall of vacation photos still persists. No one is going to show the hours of gruelling overtime they had to work to afford their plane tickets or the countless hours of unpaid and demanding internships to land their dream job. It simply doesn’t make for a great photo.
The pressure to be “living your best life” is particularly put on young girls. It is evident that a certain aesthetic for women is extremely prevalent on all forms of social media and it’s not always viable for people without the help of expensive products or costly procedures. This happens to coincide with a rising trend of young women and girls dealing with depression and anxiety.
Social media has told us that our lives are simply fodder for marketers to glean more money off of us. Its told us that life is only worth living if you are documenting it. Its told us that we aren’t enough until we’ve stamped out any semblance of a flaw.
The digital age has ushered in so many wonderful innovations but it has also created an environment where people are in a constant state of one-uppance. While life itself is a constant state of bettering ourselves, we are undertaking this journey under the watchful and unforgiving eye of social media; where we are miraculously expected to end up at perfection. It is only when we decide to shun its invasive gaze will true growth and the journey begin.