Oftentimes, Instagram and other social media platforms can feel a bit like a double-edged sword. They can open us up to the world, and still make us feel like a total shut-in. They can simultaneously inspire connection and promote segmentation. Most importantly, they offer a constant opportunity to be confident and put ourselves out there, and more often than not, all we do with this opportunity is use it to make ourselves seem just like everybody else.
With the personal editing and re-editing we all tend to do, it can be hard to be truly authentic online, but that’s not to say it isn’t possible. Here are a few things that must be considered when exploring self-image in the age of the world wide web.
The True Role Of Cosmetic Surgery
Believe it or not, but most people seek cosmetic surgery not as a response to social pressure, but simply to feel like themselves again. The problem is that plastic surgery in Melbourne, Italy, and other fashion-conscious cities can often be all about adhering to rigid societal beauty standards, which means pursuing a selection of facial features which seldom occur together naturally on any one face. The end result of picking and choosing these highly-specific contrasting facial features is a face that journalists and critics of social media have come to refer to as the ‘Instagram face’. Young women across the globe are feeling an increasing pressure to aspire to the ethnic ambiguities of the ‘Instagram face’, though all this pressure is achieving is a growing homogeneity in regards to what our globalised world considers to be ‘beautiful’.
Whilst many feel a growing urge to use plastic surgery to attain their ‘Instagram face’, surgeons across the globe are adamant that pursuing this unattainable and unreasonable beauty standard won’t be as fulfilling as using the power of cosmetic surgery to enhance one’s own unique and natural attributes.
Online VS Offline Presentation
We all know that online content isn’t always what it may seem, but simply knowing this usually isn’t enough to mitigate social media’s effects on self-image and identity. Seeing photo after photo of sun-kissed, clear-skinned individuals with an immaculate sense of style, can naturally lead to you feeling like you’re falling short of some widely agreed upon mark. This self-disappointment can pave the way for young people developing dangerously low levels of self-esteem, and sadly from here we’ve also seen a fair amount of growing mental health issues, and a few tragic outcomes.
In actuality, online content that depicts picture-perfect scenes usually are meticulously curated. People strike highly stylised poses, and often use photography trickery like manipulating perspective to paint a picture that most definitely does not represent the norm, but instead encapsulates a few seconds of painfully-acquired ‘grace’ and ‘poise’. Alongside this, there are filters for everything now, including lip enhancers and acne concealers, and even filters that can coat you with a full face of make-up! It’s never been easier to make your life seem like a paradise, even with subjects and backdrops that are anything but.
Using Your Platform With Purpose
So how can we make the most of social media whilst mitigating its very real dangers? The answer lies in being honest, and present. Engage in conversations that are worth happening, and make an effort to be there for the things that matter. The power that social media has when it comes to bringing us together is best observed in the world of politics.
In the growing debate of exactly how best we can utilise our digital citizenship, social media apps have prompted a move from self-oriented content, to normalising communication regarding topical issues. The use of hashtags and the introduction of DONATE buttons on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media apps, has heralded in a new age of honest, authentic, and humanitarian connection. This shift from self-orientation to community orientation just might be the key to ensuring that future generations can feel secure as social media continues to be a notable element in our globalised world.
Self-image in itself is a complicated concept, and it can genuinely be tackled from a variety of angles. We should not shy away from taking a multidisciplinary approach to thinking critically about this new internet age. We should embrace the hard work, not just because it’s our responsibility as children of this age, but also because our analysis will help create a more unified planet. Why would we not try and reach this incredible feat?