I have been avidly listening to The Lively Show since having my long (much-needed) break from blogging, and on one episode with John and Sherry Petersik from Young House Love, aptly titled ‘Life after blogging’, one phrase really stood out to me. This single sentence inspired me to want to write again, because I identified so much with it. ‘Every time we share something we just have to make sure – we’re not sharing this for likes, we’re not sharing this for any kind of external reaction… that doesn’t feel deeply rooted in needing collective praise or validation, it just feels very low pressure.’

That state sounds like bliss to me. Sharing stuff on the Internet without the need to be perfect? Without finding the right light? Or choosing the filter that’s going to show everything off to its best potential? Could it be? 

Without realising it, I had somehow bought into this idea of making my life look like something that it wasn’t – I had started feeling guilty about The Guilty Girl! The whole ethos that my blog was born from, about celebrating who you are and what you enjoy with no apologies, had become the antithesis of itself. I’d look at the pictures I took and the products I was planning to talk about and feel uninspired. I would feel constantly trapped between what I was producing and churning out to ‘tick boxes’ and what I wanted to be creating. Somehow in the midst of trying to grow my blog I had drowned in the sea of ‘blog advice’ posts and ‘success from your online business’ tips. I had burnt myself out. So the idea that I could make something useful and interesting to digest while running creatively on empty was just a totally absurd one.

It’s very easy to curate a good-looking life online. In fact, the whole premise of social media relies upon the constant updating, editing, tweaking, liking and disliking of our own, and others’ lives, based on aesthetic and the subjective. We’re encouraged to critique at every opportunity, marking others’ worth with ‘hearts’ and ‘thumbs ups’. Working within a rating system, constantly trying to second-guess what others want, anticipate what they’re going to need, and deliver before they ask – that is to say, working and spending my free time in social media, it all got on top of me. 

How do we live an inspired, creative life online without measuring ourselves against others? 

Everyone’s work is only too visible to us, and measures of ‘success’ are everywhere in digital. We’re more connected than ever before, and yet we keep hunting for that connection and validation through community. We’re having conversations we don’t even listen to because we’re too busy looking for the next thing to talk about.

Around a week or so ago news that well-known YouTuber and Instagrammer Essena O'Neill was quitting social media seemed to explode on my Twitter feed, even making online newspapers like The Guardian and The Independent. It's not something I particularly know a lot about or care about, but it seemed silly not to include it here. From as much as I can tell, she wanted to 'expose' the fake world of Instagram and how living a seemingly perfect life had led her to feeling low and not good enough. Whatever her truth is, I think there's something to be said for the heart of the matter. This 'like-based-on-aesthetic' culture we have created is harmful. So what can we do to counteract the impulse to Insta?

LEAVE YOUR PHONE AT HOME

Revolutionary, I know, but will the world end if you don't get a perfectly square image of your meal? Probably not. It will still taste as good, and you'll still have as much (if not more) fun without the preservation of its existence.

FUCK UP ONCE IN A WHILE

We're all human. We all pull ridiculous faces. I believe myself to be the queen of them. We sometimes have bad hair days or we take a photo were everything isn't perfectly in frame. We eat half the food, we get lipstick on our cocktail glasses. Sometimes people have food in their teeth. We all fuck up. At the end of this (hopefully) long journey we're on, no one is going to skim through your feed and measure your life upon how perfect your days were. 

ASK YOURSELF WHY YOU'RE ADDING TO THE CONVERSATION

Do you really have something to say that speaks to who you are and what you find most important in life? Or are you seeking to become a part of what everyone else is talking about because they're talking about it? I can't tell you how many young girls I see identifying with people they love and loving EVERYTHING THEY LOVE and buying EVERYTHING THEY BUY because that's how they understand validation in their world. But please. Find out who you are, what makes you different, and celebrate it. The world would be so boring and vanilla if we all just shared pictures of marble and copper everything.

'GOOD FOR HER, NOT FOR ME'

This one is quoted from the fantastic Amy Poehler, who is in fact a genius, and should be applauded for this. I try and keep this as a mantra whenever I see another YouTuber and/or blogger doing all kinds of exciting things I'd love to do. I don't know how to stress this enough: Comparison will make you unhappy. Stop doing it. Look at what you have to be grateful for. There's a lot, when you lift your head up from looking at your phone.

I hope this has made you think and would love to know your views about this, and what you do or do not take part in on social media. Do you feel validated by followers and likes? Or do you share what you share for yourself? There's no right answer at all, but I think it's something we have to own, one way or the other. I'm looking forward to hearing what you think!

2 comments

  1. Ugh love everything about this – I wholeheartedly agree with the hype on validation, and especially validation on only specific or certain brands/ways, which is to me, very superficial but like you (I guess?) I feel that I'm trying to *make* myself like the things in a certain way and that's just ain't fun! When that happens though, I think I usually take a step back and think about 'life' and how there are much more bigger things than 'blogging' and I get back on track! Well I try to anyway. I think a very telling example is Instagram, I've spent time mulling over whether I had good aesthetic / theme (ugh) for a while but then I realise I just like sharing my travel photos and don't really care whether it looks nice as a feed on one page on a phone!

    Likewise on social media, I try to find my groove and that just makes it a bit more fun than going round and agreeing with everyone.

    Cherie / sinonym

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    1. Thanks so much for this comment Cherie - I couldn't agree with you more! You seem to have a really healthy way of correcting yourself though - hopefully I can find that kind of peace of mind by working on it more and more :) It's so important to just celebrate the things you love and who you are without wondering if it's going to 'make the grade' or not! T xx

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