Distracted from distraction by distraction – T.S. Eliot.
Social media. It’s a worldwide phenomenon that began with the awkward stages of MSN, putting hearts around some boy or girl who we never spoke to IRL, and lyrics in fancy fonts. Then it was Myspace, Bebo (Beb-o / Beeb-o) and finally Facebook. We all hung around on Facebook after school in 2007, literally logging onto the laptop as soon as we got home around 4pm, having to log off again for tea, then sneaking back online in the back room away from the prying eyes of parents. Back then, it wasn’t a quick tap on a phone to open up the app; it was physically typing it into the top of a webpage and forever logging on and off again, just to scroll down your newsfeed of people you had seen in school that day. Getting it on your phone was an effort in itself with all the buttons and the tiny writing. It was definitely the start of something, and that something has done a full 360 ever since.
I am by no means an expert. I love social media for what I use it for… blogging and interaction. I don’t, however, love it for what it means for other people: trolling, forever comparing, trying to get one up on another person, living lies. But, each to their own… to an extent. I’m sure some of my followers on Instagram don’t enjoy the content I create and share sometimes. We can’t please everybody. That’s just the way life is. Just like everything in this world, there are negative aspects and positive ones too; it depends on how we ourselves look at the phenomenon that is social media, and how we act online in order to create a safe and positive space for ourselves.
THE INFLUENCER MODE
I’ve talked about influencing before. Social media is still a massive place for brands and consumers alike. I am more likely to buy something because my friend is raving about it than I am to see an advert in a magazine these days. I am going to take the word of people I trust, who’s work I admire, over a campaign that has one focal image. Perhaps that is because of my age, and how I look at media nowadays. I’m sure my dad, on the other hand, would scoff and say why would I buy that because he/she says it’s good on that thing? whereas he might be more inclined to purchase something after seeing an advert. Marketing and advertising is everywhere online now. It doesn’t even have to be an #ad for people to ask where specific items of clothing are from, or where a piece of art in the background can be bought. We are in the age of consumerism which is great for the companies’ pockets, but not our own.
HAVING FUN WITH INSTAGRAM
This might just be a little rule I’m enforcing with the app this year. I will think less about what looks good and what fits and I will post what I like, when I like. Gone are the days of posting every single day at either 8am or 6pm. I have been at the same range of followers for months now, and posting at those times won’t change that. Ultimately, the number one person who will constantly look at my feed is me, so I have to please myself first and foremost before anyone else. I’m not the next Victoria, or bookstagrammer who will take over the world. I’m me, and I like my life, so I’m going to share more of it on there, rather than think too much about it. It stresses me out more than it should to be quite honest. I think this is the same for most people my age, especially those who are growing in the blogosphere. It is too tiring to be constantly thinking on new content, especially when we have to work around our jobs and we don’t jet off to amazing countries every month. We live pretty normal lives and we should be celebrating that on Instagram, rather than trying to create an alternative “‘gram life”.
THE LIFE DICTATOR
Our phones dictate our lives. There is no way about it. Especially those who are millennials, and even those of the younger generation. Our phones are constantly in our hands, whether we are on the bus, or the train, or having a break in work, even in work, or at home in front of the telly and walking down the street. We are not aware of life around us, like zombies with a firm grasp on the only important source of life. I hold my hands up. I know that I am a part of this, and I know a lot of other people will say the same. We have to capture the moment for Insta Stories, tweet about that funny thing that just happened, share a status on Facebook to keep our family up-to-date. It dictates what we do in terms of where we should go on holiday this year; what clothes we should be packing; what restaurants to eat at; what to eat; where is hot, and where is not. I reckon that will continue in 2019, no matter how much we try and minimalize the app usage on our phone. It’s not even a bad thing half the time. We get to have free recommendations of incredible places and hear first hand what colour gin is the next big thing. Perhaps we will all slow down in terms of “insta-sharing” this year, and live our life in the moment rather than halting it for ten seconds to share it, then hitting the play button again.
THE YOUNGER GENERATION
As we come to terms with taking the more relaxed approach to social media, the phenomenon is just beginning for boys and girls who are as young as ten on social media. For me, it’s ridiculous. I’m all for young people having phones because I had my trusty Nokia 3310 with my Eeyore case at that age. However, I am not all for the rise of children being on Instagram and on Twitter, or even Facebook and Snapchat. I’ve seen it first hand what happens to children on there. It feeds their need for attention, for likes and comments and that in turn can be a gateway for nasty comments, cyber bullying and never getting away from somebody when they are literally in the palm of your hand. It is frightening, and teachers nor parents can do much to stop them. Like everyone at their age, they want to appear cooler and more grown up. They are being influenced to have the latest thing that is suitable for adults, not children. It is a vicious circle that won’t be broken because it is the world we live in. Maybe it will be a phase for these young people, one that they will eventually grow out of when they realise what they are missing in the world around them. It is as though they are not children anymore because they are racing ahead of time with the help of social media. There is not much we can do about it, other than create positive spaces for everyone and teach by example in terms of what we share online.
I predict that 2019 is the year the majority of people will slow down their usage on social media. We will put our phones face down on the table and have a conversation with the person sitting opposite us. We will still be influenced by the suggestions of our peers and our idols, but we won’t let it dictate us in a fashion where everything has to be done “for the ‘gram”. I won’t lie – I will still be doing outfit shoots and getting that flatlay just right, but I will also post the photos where I am laughing, and the ones that aren’t stylised in a certain way. The impact will still be huge on our day to day lives, but it won’t send us into a panic over why we have so little likes and why bots continue to plague us with their existence. There is still a lot to learn about social media, and the younger generations need teaching as well as ourselves.
What are your thoughts about social media in 2019? Do you think there will still be a huge impact?
Love, Faye xo