Updated: Feb 28, 2019
The internet was created for connection. The internet was created to allow for ease and convenience during a period when interaction was limited to physical interactions. With the internet, physical boundaries aren't as restrictive, and the possibilities and results of that are seemingly endless. Does this increased connectivity and communication mean that people are happier and feeling more fulfilled? No. Instead, quite the opposite has been showed in numerous studies. With the internet, and especially social media, appearances or visual profiles are increasingly important when determining one's self worth. One's self image and perception of self is largely based in comparison to others, and especially what others are posting. Seeing friends laughing, having brunch, studying together, watching movies together, and not being a part of these activities can be lonesome. It's hard to not compare oneself and one's life to others, and especially difficult to avoid self judgment when comparison is deeply embedded into human nature.
I grew up being influenced by this technology, and my sense of self worth and identity were defined likewise. I compared my profiles to my peers, and judged myself if I couldn't compare or live up to the experiences of people around me. If other people had loving friendships, relationships, or fun experiences, I would judge myself for not sharing the same. I would judge myself and criticize myself for being less-than, for being inferior. I did everything in my power to maintain a certain image online. A certain identity. I ensured I had enough friends on facebook, nicely edited pictures on instagram, pictures of all my friends and fun activities online for the world to see. My sense of self worth and identity was so fragile and heavily reliant on external validation and affirmation that my life was a constant race to feel safe and secure. Not only safe and secure in myself, but in my life.
I used social media as a crutch for my loneliness, and the very thing that was intended to make me feel connected to the world around me not only made me feel increasingly disconnected from myself and my experiences. There's a common phrase now "do it for the instagram" or "the camera eats first." This feeds into the idea that experiences are only carried out for others. Did you really go to Coachella if you didn't post a picture on instagram? Did you really see those beautiful views from those beautiful mountains if you didn't have 200 pictures to prove it? So many experiences are being carried out with the intention of showing others. It's like a constant performance. Constantly living for external validation or acceptance. I was very much drawn into that lifestyle and those values, and it didn't serve me. Mentally or physically. It was not my life anymore, it was a life for the internet to see and witness.