The Online Pursuit of Happiness

As we are the first generation to grow up with Instagram and Twitter, there is a whole world (wide web) unexplored that adds a completely new element to our lives. In many ways this is great; we get to set the rules, and do things our parents didn’t have the chance, or rather the technology, to do. Tonnes of people just like you and me have made careers out of sharing their passions on these platforms, and it has opened up whole new career paths for us. But the flipside of that coin is that we are the generation piloting a life led online. With that comes problems, the obvious ones being safety, exposure to things we would otherwise be sheltered from, and the amount of time we spend interacting with our devices instead of interacting with others or stimulating our minds.

 

Just a picture of me pretending to read.

But there is another, not so obvious problem that is plaguing our generation: the online pursuit of happiness. Instagram and other such platforms allow us to post a very narrow representation of our lives. We can edit and filter the pictures, and only post a small, carefully picked selection that show off the very best bits (sometimes the not-even-true bits) of our lives. As a blogger, I don’t think this is all bad. I enjoy building up my account with pictures I find visually pleasing, and obviously, the majority of them are staged. Very rarely does it happen that one of my friends drops to the ground and catches the ideal angle of me sassing down the road in a perfectly put together outfit (disclaimer: this has never happened… sadly). More and more we see bloggers making jokes about this kind of thing, alluding to the fact that what we see on screen isn’t always as natural as it is made to look (think blogger smiling into her coffee type pictures and you get the gist). So it follows that if my boyfriend/reluctant photographer takes a picture of me where I have 3 chins and a goofy expression, I will delete that picture (this happens a surprising amount – I am not a natural born poser). Because, lets be fair, I don’t think anyone wants to see that.

Knowing all this, when I look at the accounts of other bloggers, I take what I see with a hefty pinch of salt, knowing that seconds after they took that candid shot in their killer heels (which they admittedly look awesome in), they most likely sat down on the pavement and swapped them for trainers to walk back home. Not so glamourous behind the scenes. But in conversation with my friend last week, I realised that not everyone has the same insight to make informed judgements about these beautiful accounts they are exposed to daily.

Being exposed to these accounts over a period of time makes the lives we see in these accounts, however staged, the norm. Happiness becomes about meeting the standards set by the online world instead of the things that really matter. Girls begin to compare the polished snippets of someones life that they see on these accounts with the not-so-shiny realities of their own life. The two are incomparable because the lives you see online are unattainable – not even the people who post those pictures live like that. Not only is this damaging to your self-esteem, life becomes about trying to create a perfect representation of your life online, as opposed to enjoying the realities of it.

So, the point of this post: it is so important that you don’t take what you see online at face value. A lot of time, effort and indeed editing go into what you see. Most bloggers, myself included, are proud of that time, effort and editing, and declare it openly (such as the fact that I am not really reading in these photos). With that in mind, we should all enjoy browsing these accounts for the beauty and inspiration they offer, without that inspiration becoming the standards we set ourselves.

And whilst we are on the topic, remember to unplug. I can become completely consumed in the digital world in minutes. I start looking at one instagram account and before I know it, its 4 hours later and I have found fifteen new girls to follow and have ten ideas for new blog posts. If you’re anything like me, you need to be strict with yourself to allow you to wind down and shut off the outside world – gorgeous, unattainable instagram accounts included! The more time spent browsing these accounts, the less time we spend interacting with reality. Make time offline a priority in order to rediscover what is important.

 

– SHOP THE POST – 

Cushions – IKEA, here

Jumper – Mango, Similar here

Slippers – Primark

Watch – Marc Jacobs, here

Ring – Pandora, here

 

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