Some 60 years ago, a new drug appeared on the market which was used for several reasons, but majorly to alleviate morning sickness in pregnant women – great, problem solved! However, it resulted in a rather catastrophic unknown collateral damage where the babies born from these women were born with limb deformities. Thalidomide was, of course, promptly not used to treat morning sickness any more. Today, history repeats itself in a way: Something which was invented to bridge together our social society and greatly enhance communication has had an unpredicted adverse effect, and nobody is doing anything about it – social media. It has resulted in the psychological epidemic of the younger generation.
Everyone sees how we wear our hair every day, anyone can look at what shirt we wore to the club last Saturday, and all of us are trying to broadcast how great our weekend was, how beautiful our holiday was, and how perfect our relationship with our girlfriend is. The real sore point is when we scroll down our Instagram feeds and compare what we have against all the celebrities we see. The professional lifestyle bloggers and models.
The truth is, not only are you looking at the 99th percentile of the hottest celebs, but their pictures are taken on 5000MP cameras with studio lighting and they are all airbrushed to shit. What we forget when we fawn over these chiseled bodies and perfect hairstyles, is these people make a career out of looking like this; they just did 500 push-ups to get that pump; a professional hairdresser just did their hair for them like that. They advertise a lifestyle, but really what they’re advertising is nothing at all. It’s how they live their life for an hour each day in front of a camera, and it’s believed to be perfect. They would have you live this way in order to promote their products. The problem with something being labelled or perceived by general public as perfect is that it’s completely paradoxical – it forces us to search for something which doesn’t exist. With the exception of the mathematical sense of the term, perfection is a completely objective quality.
It doesn’t stop there though. Not only do we compare our lifestyle to theirs, but we feel the need to attempt to live this lifestyle because of the social pressures in our society; we try to go to the gym and have a bodybuilders diet because we feel obligated to show everyone on our snapchat stories that we’re cool just like David Beckham. Every single day scrolling down our feed to see hundreds of these mammals deadlifting 800 kilos, and Dan Bilzerian getting his dick sucked by a hooker while he drives his jet ski into the sunset. It may seem difficult to see these things on your feed and work out how your life is possible as good or better than theirs, but it’s something you must do, because the chances are you will never be that person. You’ll be chasing a ghost, a vision of yourself that isn’t you and can never be you. It’s important to understand that these people don’t have a small country’s worth of followers because they’re so cool, they’re viewed as so cool because of the validation of all their followers.
If the public didn’t endorse these people, they would be out of their job. The only difference between you and them is that you don’t need to be fawned over by a fanbase in order to be yourself: You can commit to feeling confident without their validation. As long as you’re fit and healthy, it doesn’t matter if you have the perfect beach body. As long as you’re happy and confident with yourself, you don’t need to earn £10K per day. The toxic system in our society arises when we feel the need to obtain this beach body, to obtain this new trending Gucci cap, to obtain this 10/10 boyfriend in order to elevate our place in a non-existent hierarchy, and therefore feel superior to others through their validation. We have to take a few steps back from the whole situation and consider our priorities. Think about your values and ask yourself – is it more important to me that my new hairstyle looks exactly like Chris John Millington’s and I have 2% body fat; or is it more important to me that I can sit down over some drinks and cake with my friends and laugh about how shit my hair looks today?
Unlike the use of thalidomide in pregnancy, however, social media isn’t going to just stop, which means we are the ones who must change our perspective of it. It starts with a choice – you can ignore social media altogether, or just use it as a platform to stay in contact with your mates; you can take advantage of it, and advertise your own products, ideas, or services; or you can help educate yourself and the younger generation, to teach them mindfulness and learn to be happy with their lives and live it on their terms.