Apparently, I am a teenage girl. I was surprised to learn this because to most people, I appear to be a 61-year-old woman. Yet, according to an internal Facebook study The Wall Street Journal obtained, my reaction to social media is the same as most teenage girls. It can make me feel unattractive and cause anxiety. But before we jump into my psychological issues, let’s take a step back.
I come from a family that took very few photos. Since I was the youngest of six, I was the least photographed baby and toddler. My mom tried to pass off one of my sister’s baby picture’s as mine. My sister has brown hair. I have red hair. It didn’t work. My parents never lined us up for family photos or took us to Sears so a professional could snap our gorgeous group. When photos were taken it seemed like everyone had their mouths open, eyes closed and bodies contorted in odd positions. Oh, and school pictures—yikes! Even my senior picture was a sight to behold. I decided early on I was never going to be a model thus the way I looked in photos didn’t matter. And here is the disconnect that still exists in my head today: The person in the photo who looked so uncomfortable or maybe a little chubby or whose eyes were wonky wasn’t me. In reality, I was an above average looking person and kind of cute so why worry. It worked until, well, it didn’t.
First came Facebook. It seemed harmless enough. I actually reconnected with a lot of people I lost track of. I could minimize the number of pictures I posted and often just let my kids, dogs or memes represent my thoughts. It was fun actually. People were nice to each other, stories were exchanged, and then things started to change. I regularly posted my columns and would get lots of likes and nice comments. It felt good. I was a Writer. Then as time went on, Facebook started to change. Politics made things really tough. I disagreed with people I liked and respected. Reading posts on Facebook wasn’t enjoyable anymore. I stopped posting my columns because, to be honest, it didn’t seem like anyone really was enjoying them much anymore.
Then came Instagram. I could post pictures of sunsets, my dogs but, more importantly, my grandson. I followed lots of interesting people, mostly funny ones. But then influencers snuck in. You know, those impossibly good-looking people who might be around your age but look 20 years younger. Their skin was impeccable! Not a brown spot from too much sun anywhere. Oh, and their hair! Even during the pandemic somehow they kept the grey away. And finally, their bodies were stunning, and they swore it was all yoga! Plus they had four kids, without pain meds of course, and could still rock a bikini. I was a slug! I needed to be better! Get some work done on my face and body, pronto!
Well, no. I still think I look pretty good. Perhaps I could lose some weight, get a nip and tuck and practice how to pose so I too can look good on Instagram, but no. Even though Instagram causes me anxiety, I think the solution is to unfollow any and all influencers and stick to pictures of dogs and funny people. Peace my Peeps.