In Snow White, there was the magic mirror. Today, there’s social media.
Whether it’s Instagram or TikTok, we live our lives opposite a screen, repeatedly snapping, liking and swiping. Similar to the Evil Queen’s mirror in Snow White, our device screens have become destructive. We often look and judge ourselves through our screens, which leads us to constantly compare ourselves to others.
Our deep-seated desire to control the way the world perceives us isn’t unlike the Evil Queen’s desire to be the “fairest of them all.” Through our mirror, social media forces us to constantly come in contact with our physical appearance.
Social media influencers serve as the celebrities we see across our social media accounts everyday. Their role is to influence us—to buy a product, to vacation in a beautiful place, to eat at a certain restaurant—but at times, it’s tempting to compare yourself to them. A 20 second Instagram reel can cause insecurities in areas you didn’t even know you could be insecure about. You begin to think, “if only I had, or didn’t have, I would be perfect.”
Women have specifically struggled with the constant societal norms and limitations perpetuated on social media. A study published in the National Library of Medicine by Heather Woods and Holly Scott, found a direct connection between increased social media usage and decreased sleep quality, low self-esteem and increased levels of anxiety and depression. The use of social media has increased severely during the pandemic, which only increases potential mental health triggers. It’s become so easy to get caught up in wanting to change your appearance, especially when the world as we know it is changing at an unimaginable pace.
It’s important now more than ever to limit the amount of time you spend on social media. As you put space between yourself and the cyberworld, you’ll gain perspective. Social media, as ever-present as it is, isn’t real life, and the saying “too much of anything is bad” still rings true. Social media is meant to be a source of entertainment, not a giant audition to see who looks or lives best. We all need to take a beat and refocus our desires. You don’t need to change to fit the most Instagrammable mold. You need something much more powerful: develop confidence.
You see, change doesn’t last. The trends change. Long-term fulfillment comes from being happy in your own skin.
And while I want all of us to feel better about ourselves, we should probably take a second to feel guilty about how much time we spend staring at social media. Don’t you spend all day staring at Zooms and emails anyway? For the sake of our eyes and our self-esteem, it’s time we all consider a social detox.
You can catch up on a dust infected book buried on your bookshelf, or even discover a new craft. Who knows, you could develop a random passion you never considered or even get back to a healthier sleep schedule. This is me giving you permission to put your phone down. There is so much more to life than flicking through Instagram and staring disappointedly in the mirror.