When life becomes content: how social media is changing us

Woman taking a selfie and throwing a kissy mouth toward the smartphone camera | Credit: iStock.com/NiKita Filippov

Idyllic nature scenes, intense sports sessions in the gym, classy dinner evenings or cute couple shoots. If you spend your time on Instagram, TikTok and Facebook on a daily basis, you might think that life is just a string of highlights.

Art figure with many likes

In principle, there is nothing wrong with showing your best side in social media and sharing the most beautiful moments, triggering emotions and generating likes. The seductive thing is that we determine what we show of ourselves and thus control to some extent how we want to be seen. Quite successfully, as the comments and likes under impressively staged selfies still prove. Creating an art figure via the detour of a digital existence, whose life promises more glamour than the one off the Internet with all its less dazzling moments, tempts many to do too much of a good thing in their productions. The danger is then great to deprive us of highlights that are of more lasting value than the personal content we post.

How Insta-suitable is my life??

Not to be underestimated is the pressure we feel once we start owning a glamorous digital identity and get our followers used to being treated to big productions on a daily basis. In the long run, it’s exhausting to have to check our daily experiences and impressions for Insta-appropriateness. Living more in social media than in real life. It’s to the point where you feel like it could be misconstrued if you don’t openly share all the events of the world or constantly bring your partner out from behind the digital curtain for stories, reels or galleries.

Needs a relationship presence on the web?

With all commitment, it should always be clear: You can comment on your private life in the virtual world, but you don’t have to. Even if you don’t reveal much or anything about it online, a relationship is no less serious than one of couples who openly flaunt their love.

Regardless of the celebratory announcement of a "monthly anniversary" including the additional information that you will be "forever together," you may well be together just as long without that message. You can be excited about events or gifts even if you don’t share them with thousands – perhaps even more so because you’re living in the moment and not racking your brains on how best to stage that situation so it triggers excitement among your followers.

Woman sitting in front of her notebook with a cup of cappucino and typing a message on her smartphone | Credit: iStock.com/anyaberkut

A post is not life

Exactly for these reasons, we should also conversely not fall into the trap of others in social media. And see their posts for what they are – shots of fleeting moments. As long as it inspires us to make something of our opportunities and expand our horizons without idealizing the lives of others or drawing false conclusions, social media is an asset. To keep it that way, it’s important to keep setting yourself apart by not torturing yourself with comparisons or thinking you have to emulate others.

How much happiness of others can we bear?

Hand on heart: What do you think when you see a selfie that shows a friend of yours overjoyed with a handsome and likeable man at a romantic candlelight dinner in a fancy restaurant?? As a woman, perhaps sentences like: "She’s got it good! Of course she can afford it with her parents. Such a dear man has not deserved at all."Or full of admiration: "If only I could look as good as her and have a boyfriend like her!"

What the picture doesn’t reveal: that there were also lows and setbacks in the lives of said acquaintances. Perhaps you have only had unhappy relationships at times when you were happy. What only their closest friends know: The job is stressful and hectic. Money is tight, the nice dinner a treat she can rarely afford.

It may be that it is important to her to hide this truth in the social media as best as possible behind the facade of the smart and happy woman in cool clothes. Pretending to have an exquisite lifestyle that exceeds their financial means.

Woman commenting on a social media post | Credit: iStock.com/grinvalds

How much self-confidence it takes to resist self-dramatization?

However, the fact that a person goes to such great lengths to present themselves as completely different from who they are also says something about them. For example, that his self-confidence is not very pronounced, he thinks he is only lovable and interesting when he presents himself in this way. Is someone like that really to be envied? For the operators of social media, the unfulfilled need of many for attention, admiration and recognition is a profitable business. For all the relevance of our image in the digital world, this should not be ignored either.

Do not delete – delimit!

No reason, therefore, to withdraw completely from the world of the beautiful appearance and to delete demonstratively all his user accounts. It already helps to have a little distance from the images and to be aware in which of the two worlds we move in parallel, at the end of the day, the really important things happen.

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