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Contentment in an Online Life – Is it Possible?

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So I’m not sure about you, but ALL I’m seeing these days (esp. on Instagram – less so on Twitter/Facebook) is people flashing their new shoes, houses, cars, rugs, holidays, makeup. New/latest anything and everything. The list is endless. What I want to make clear, is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. We all do it.  If we’re proud of something/saved up for something/love something and we’re also used to being on social media all the time, I suppose it’s only natural for us to want to share it with the world. I feel like my issue is this; in doing so – more than likely subconsciously –  it can make a lot of people feel shit. It can make them feel less of a mum/person/partner. It can make them feel like a failure. I’m pretty sure we’ve all been there? Unless you take yourself away from the situation, I.e. removing yourself from social media or having a very strict filter with yourself, you’re never going to escape it. And for most people, not being on social media just isn’t an option. It’s addictive, you don’t want to miss out on things, it’s how you connect with people in this digital world, it’s something to do on the way to work or when the kids are in bed. A life without social media is a very daunting and often lonely one for some (just check the #1 Trending Topic on Twitter when Instagram goes down for 20 minutes…)

What was once an app for sharing shitty photos using an actual instagram filter like ‘Amaro’ and having an online album of sorts – If I scroll back to my first posts, there’s horrendous selfies at college, memes I found funny and my food – has now become an intense rat race full of the same old content, ads, and increasing comparison/competition. Having been on social media for a few years now, and 3+ of those years being part of a sponsored set of other likeminded women, I feel like I can come at this topic from both sides of the coin.

On the one hand, Instagram is – and provenly so – an incredible marketing app for brands. Endless studies have shown that influencer marketing is fast becoming one of the most powerful forms of marketing, in contrast to a generation ago when they’d hire a celebrity, plan an advert and show it on tv. People can relate a million times more to someone they watch or follow through social media, than they can to a Hollywood celebrity. Because they watch and see a lot of their lives, they trust them more. People feel like they actually properly know them. Your favourite YouTuber wouldn’t lie about how amazing a moisturiser is would they?! Course not (so you’d like to think) so you’re compelled to buy it – no matter what the cost.

Unfortunately, with this form of marketing comes a very grey area, and one that seems to be increasingly apparent; ‘influencers’ not always being honest about their following/likes authenticity. If you have a social media account then like me you would’ve probably received a shit ton of emails from companies promising you the ‘followers and likes you deserve.’ Sounds great doesn’t it? Especially when you can bag yourself 10K followers for a mere £34 or 1K likes for £7.50  (www.thebestfollowers.co.uk). Or pay $10 for a month worth of bots (www.instazood.com)  to follow hundreds of people daily to entice them to follow back, only to then unfollow them the next day. Think about how many brands would contact you if you had 10K followers or seem to have hundreds/thousands likes per photo. Sadly though, this is one of the main reasons I have taken a step back from it all. It doesn’t take an idiot to work out which accounts have adopted this method of rising to the top, all you need to do is go on Social Blade and look at the follow/unfollow numbers and their engagement rate. To be honest, in some ways, I do get why people would choose this route. The competition is insane these days and growing a real, authentic audience (more so the first 6-8K) can take A LOT of work, time, commitment – and frankly for some, there aren’t enough hours in the day. So part of me does get it. But what I don’t get and never will, is people choosing the easier road and then acting superior to others. Or giving tips and tricks on ‘being a blogger’ or ‘how to grow your audience’. Anyone can make an instagram account, spend £35-£60 for a wealth of followers (that are essentially fake/ghost accounts) and post some photos that they’ve edited on VSCO cam.

I think because I’ve been present in this world for a few years now, and when I first started there wasn’t any of this fakery (or if there was it was a very small scale) – it’s very hard for me and others in the same situation to not feel like they’re being cheated out of possible brand work, time and effort. Granted, a good, honest brand will recognise authenticity but a lot of brands only look at the numbers, and if its a number they like, they’re going to work with that person, ghost followers or not. This is what I mean about the grey area of this line of marketing. It’s not regulated. I couldn’t tell you the amount of emails I’ve received in the past, from brands wanting to collaborate with me for YouTube videos, Instagram posts/stories, Blog posts, but when I ask them what their budget is, they tell me there is no budget. As a result of working with Channel Mum and gaining the knowledge I have from those 3 years, I can tell you here and now that (for 95% of brands) this is utter bullshite. Even a start-up business should have a marketing budget because how else do they intend on showing their product or service to the world? BUT, not everyone has been lucky enough to have a company behind them telling them they’re worthy of payment, coaching them on how to respond to brands and negotiate fees. These brands aren’t stupid. They will tell you that there’s no budget but they’ll send you some products to review with a view to working again in the future – that time with budget. For people new to this ‘game’ as I call it, it all sounds very appealing. Free products for an Instagram photo? And they’ll want to work with me again? Yeah cool, that’s easy. The more brands you’re ‘seen’ to be working with, the more appealing you’ll look to others right?

After being incredibly lucky in being a sponsored vlogger, and having the opportunity to meet a whole tonne of vloggers, bloggers, creators, I feel like my eyes have definitely been opened. I’ve seen what happens or what can happen behind the stage so to speak. Obviously I’m not going to name names, because everyone has their own motives and that isn’t for me to question, but people I once ‘looked up to’ or thought highly of in this line of work have been totally different in real life. Just because I don’t have as many subs/followers as the person sitting next to me doesn’t warrant you being a dick to me and lovely to the other. It doesn’t mean you can walk round with your airs and graces just because you’ve worked with this brand or that, or because millions of people adore you (what they think is you) and sing your praises daily. Don’t get me wrong, the vast majority of people I have met through this have been genuinely lovely and inspiring. They work so so hard on their accounts and channels and I have the upmost respect for them all. I feel so blessed to be able to say I know so and so personally and that I’ve been able to sit in a room with them, share ideas, tips, advice and create something together that we’re proud of.

On the other hand, and also having multiple ‘social media detoxes’, I can see how toxic it has become. If you don’t know me personally, then you probably won’t believe me but after having multiple CBT and counselling sessions (unrelated to social media lol), I feel like I am very good at being in control of my feelings, emotions and thoughts. I have boundaries, I can remain realistic and see through a lot of fakery and dismiss it. I have learnt that comparison is the thief of joy and practising contentment is what makes you truly happy and grateful. I feel like its very hard to find genuine people on social media (instagram) nowadays which is what drew me to the app in the first place. I loved connecting with new and likeminded people and forming friendships etc from that and I just find that nowadays it’s actually quite difficult to do that. Whereas before it was more about connecting, actually conversing, being there on the end of the DMs for mums in the same boat as you, I just feel its not really about that at all and its all about who’s top dog. It makes me anxious for my younger brother, my best friends sister, my younger cousin and my son growing up when thats the environment on social media. The pressure to have the best things (or what people think is the best) on kids these days is immense. Teenagers are naive – everything they see, they’ll believe. They don’t have the experience or logic to be able to say ‘actually, thats photoshopped or edited.’ If their favourite Instagram influencer uploads a photo of her in a bikini with her tiny waist, big bum and boobs, long hair, amazing makeup that I couldn’t ever do and I’m 25 and it has thousands of likes, comments from people saying ‘body goals’ or ‘stunning’, what is that going to make them think? It makes them feel like if they don’t look that way then they’re not enough. They’re not pretty. They’re fat. It’s detrimental to their mental health.

And it isn’t just teenagers. I know fully grown adults that have had to totally come off the app in order to find peace and get their mental health back on track. Its so easy to get sucked into everything that people post, especially accounts with a large ‘following’. I remember a couple of years ago a big thing about a rug from Laredoute. A lot of big ‘influencers’ had said rug and it was almost like if you didn’t have it you weren’t cool. And when you are suckered in to the daily, addictive nature of Instagram and social media it can genuinely make you feel like you’re not worthy. You genuinely start to think “ok I haven’t got this rug cos its hundreds of pounds so my house is shit.” It puts you in a negative space and I honestly feel like unless you can be very rational and open minded about social media, its actually a really crappy thing to be a part of. Similarly – which still astounds me now – is how very rarely, larger influencers follow/include/converse with people of a much smaller numerical following. I don’t get it? It reminds me of being at school when the popular kids couldn’t possibly be seen with the unpopular kids incase it ruined their ‘image’ in some way. I think the most laughable thing about this is that we’ve all started in the same place. Whether we’ve cheated our way to the top or not, we all downloaded that app for similar reasons. We may not have the same backgrounds or upbringings, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that we all started our accounts with 0 followers and 0 likes. You could genuinely have 2 people, one with 3K real followers and one with 20K bought. Theres absolutely no doubt the one with 20K would get a follow back from a larger influencer and they wouldn’t even look twice at the account with 3K. Why is this? Where has this superiority and competition come from? Why does it exist? Your worth doesn’t and shouldn’t depend on how many people ‘follow’ you. It shouldn’t depend on what your house looks like or what brands are gifting you shit or working with you.  

I think the biggest thing for me, and what I’m trying to get across is that yes, some people are real on there, they share the highs and lows and its refreshing to see. But a lot of people aren’t, and I’m sure for various reasons; be it that their instagram is their brand, their image, they want to keep it a positive place for them and their followers, they don’t want to spark any debates or lose followers – who knows! The main thing to remember is that no matter how long you’ve followed somebody, or how many times you’ve spoken to someone, you still won’t really know everything about them. I’ve said this time and time again, but just because people follow me and I post videos and photos etc, it doesn’t mean you know my whole life. It doesn’t mean I’m not honest, but there are things in my life I want to protect and keep for myself instead of sharing to the world. And when you are fully immersed into the world of social media, I think its very easy for people to forget that. When its all said and done, if Instagram shut down tomorrow, what do all those larger influencers have? They’ve got the Laredoute rug yeah, they’ve got the velvet sofa and the perfect kitchen of dreams. But its all materialistic. Are they going to have thousands of people following them around in real life, telling them how amazing they are? Course they’re not. They’re just ordinary people like you and me. 

You might have read this and thought ffs Jeorgia just shut the f*%k up talking waffle. I just feel like I’ve spoken a lotttt about this with loads of people and I just wanted to share my thoughts on the topic. You may not agree with me and thats totally fine. I just think for me, its very important to be able to properly turn off from it and remember that having the most fashionable clothes, house, car, holidays etc doesn’t make the world go round. It’ll be nice to have those things but it doesn’t mean you’re not blessed in your own way. Being honest, kind and content is far more superior to all of those things (in my opinion). After my 5 month social media break, I returned with a whole new perspective. If I don’t enjoy someones content anymore, or they’re not really adding value to my life or scrolling experience, then what is the need to follow them? For years I followed people because I thought I should, because everyone else was, because I was being ‘supportive’ but all it meant was that I was seeing posts, captions and stories I didn’t like or agree with. Don’t get me wrong there are accounts I follow and think ‘oh my god your house is my dream house’, or ‘wow those shoes are to die for’,  and I do think thats natural, but I have learned to not let it ruin my happiness or contentedness for the life I do have. I may not own my own home, I may not have thousands of followers or brand work, I may not have holidays to the Caribbean every year but I do have a home, an amazing son, amazing friends and family, a car to get me from A to B, and our health. (SPD and car crash injury aside haha). I am content and I’m definitely a lot happier now I’ve removed myself from the competitiveness aspect of social media. Yes I still post photos and videos but its what I want to post, and when I want to post it. I don’t have a deflated feeling anymore when someone else works with a brand I really wanted to work with. I don’t feel like a failure if my numbers aren’t growing. I don’t have anxiety about schedules and deadlines. You’re never going to eliminate competition, its natural. I just think its really important, more so than ever, for people to recognise when it gets unhealthy and that taking time away from social is never going to be a bad idea. 

What do you think? Do you think we can ever truly be content in this day and age? Do you worry for future generations? Do you think its what it used to be? Do you think it can ever go back to the glory days?

If you’ve made it this far, then thank you. This post really is just word vomit from my brain haha so apologies if it doesn’t make sense. Big loves, and if you need me you’ll probably find me over on Twitter more these days hahah.

Love Jeorgia xxx

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