Why I had to ban myself from Pinterest (sad face)

Banned from Pinterest

Banned from Pinterest

I talk a lot about social media and how I believe it affects our collective self-esteem negatively through constantly promoting ‘perfect’ bodies, faces and everything else, causing us to compare and compare ourselves until we feel inadequate. For this reason I banned myself from social media other than using it for business and Tough Cookie (you can read about this and my self-imposed boundaries to protect my self-esteem here). In the original post I discuss Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in particular – but recently I realised that one of my much-loved social networks Pinterest was just as harmful as the others, and I forced myself to step away.

I generally dislike social media on a personal level. I think it breeds a climate of toxic one-upmanship which encourages us all to be in competition which each other whilst we post about our so-called ‘perfect’ lives. Many people now measure their worth or interestingness through ‘likes’ and ‘shares’. It’s ironically a fantastic way to waste your life, because although it makes you feel important and as though your life is better than everyone else’s, the people who are really living aren’t scrolling through other people’s rants or sharing what they had for breakfast – they’re out enjoying their lives.

 So it wasn’t difficult for me to quit Facebook and Twitter (in principle – I still have profiles which I rarely use or use for business). Apart from rare times when I’m drawn in after accidentally seeing posts and think ‘oh my god I should have been sharing every selfie and every event in my life for all this time!’ I generally don’t miss it. But one social network I do like is Pinterest.

I’d spend hours on Pinterest every night a couple of years ago. After work I’d lie in bed scrolling through, pinning beautiful homes to my ‘House’ board (I don’t have a house yet!), pinning stunning images of various idyllic holiday destinations to my ’Travel’ board (I’ve not even scratched the surface of my travel list) and most worryingly pinning photographs of other people because i wished I could look like them. Whilst the ‘Quotes’ boards helped me immensely, I inadvertently often undid the good work they did and crushed my positive thoughts by going back to the boards which made me crave more in my life rather than appreciating what I currently have.

 But by nature Pinterest is aspirational. You rarely see an image that does’t represent life perfection on there – and if you do it’s for a post telling you how you can get that perfect life/body/hair/face. And it’s all fake. Eeks.

I didn’t realise how harmful Pinterest was until I was sharing photographs at shoots and with my bestie/hairdresser and people started to point out that without a face transplant (and a lot of extensions) I wasn’t going to achieve this ‘ideal look’ I’d formulated for myself, which naturally went with my ‘ideal life’ living in a beautiful house, travelling the world and running a business. And I started to see images on there that had made me feel bad on Twitter and Instagram (mostly models and ‘perfect’ make-up and hair photos) and realised that the old issues were creeping back in. The comparing, the fretting. I’d even created boards filled with pictures of people I wished to emulate, and I’d scroll through the images uncontrollably until I felt horrendously bad, fixated on what they had, what I lacked and how I could fix that. 

Now I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be aspirational and ambitious. Those boards helped me to achieve a lot, namely starting my own business and living life the way I want to. Travelling more. But it’s when we start to feel bad inside as a consequence that the trouble starts – because we can never move forward if we’re stuck in the past or worrying about the future in the present rather than enjoying it for what it is.

How many people reading this post have done a similar thing subconsciously with Pinterest or another social network? I bet a lot of you have without even knowing it. Banning yourself from social media (and in particular Pinterest, or another site you love) can be difficult, but the rewards are significant. You might feel as though you ‘need’ social media, but it’s only been around for less than ten years. i remember that life before social media was much simpler – and even then, i had issues. So if you also struggle with your self-esteem just imagine what damage social media is doing to you right now. Remember that social media encourages comparison – n fact, it’s almost unavoidable. for me comparison is like a drug – it makes me feel good at first and I can’t help but look at those images of ‘perfection’ (which have been tampered with and styled to the nth degree), but then I just feel bad, really bad. and as I ‘come down’ from the high I feel even worse. Recognise the pattern when you’re next online, and realise that there’s more to life than this.

 Need help quitting social media? Ready to feel better about yourself? Read my Golden Rules here.

 

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The Generation Gap  – how and why do expectations differ?

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‘Life begins just outside your comfort zone’

For a twenty- or thirty- something in today’s society, there are a heck of a lot of pressures and stresses which seem only to have transpired in the last 10 years. Is it technology? Feminism? The economy?

As I have spoken about in ‘You can’t do it all’, women are expected to be and do lots of different things, all to a high standard. Yet we can’t do all of these things – at least not all of them very well. None of us are superhuman.

When I look at my parents and speak to them about their own experiences, I see stark differences worlds apart from even the chasm between their generation and that of their own parents.

In the 1980’s (which wasn’t THAT long ago), women still trailed behind men considerably in the workplace and in education. In schools, there was still a tendency to encourage girls to do subjects such as home economics and boys to do woodwork. Whilst many shunned the norm and set us on a path to where we are today, many women did just as their own mothers had done; met someone at school, had children, bought a house and became a housewife.

Nowadays, women (and men) of our generation are told they can ‘be whoever they want to be’. We are all talented, we can all do whatever we wish to do – we just have to believe and work hard and we will succeed. An increasingly materialistic society has only been encouraged by social media, upon which we are assaulted by an onslaught of photographs depicting luxury resorts, fast cars and millionaire beach houses.

What’s the problem with this? Well, it’s unrealistic. We can’t all be successful. There are always people at the top of the pile, people at the bottom, and people in between. Telling people they can all be successful and have potential if they work hard is really an untruth – hard work doesn’t always equate to financial abundance. There are other factors such as luck, economy and skill, and of course what you choose to go into.

If a woman is seen to be dependent on a man, or looking for a man to ‘settle down with’, she is looked upon with a certain level of disdain by today’s society. Where’s the ambition? How dare she expect a man to share his fortunes with her? Why can’t she or doesn’t she have her own?

I myself am fiercely self-sufficient, and I often find myself harbouring the same views on other girls who tell me it is their ambition to ‘find someone rich to marry’. Yet I also find myself struggling to afford the lifestyle society tells me I should have (and am entitled to) as single woman. If I focus solely on my career, I can’t have an amazing body because I have no time or energy for the gym. I can’t go out every week because I am knackered. Yet if I don’t focus on my career, I could keep up an unsustainable party lifestyle on a low wage for an inordinate amount of time but then where would that leave me? I’d have all sorts of memories, but I’d also be 30 and still living with my parents. Something I very much wish to avoid.

‘Life is for living’, yes, but how? And isn’t that often motivated by what we want but dictated by what we need? A difficult balance to achieve, if you ask me.

I think the important thing to remember is that whilst a lot is expected of us from many different parties (parents, friends, partners, work, society), all that really matters is our own personal happiness. Your instincts and personal preferences dictate what you really want in life – and even though it’s scary to take a leap of faith (especially when everyone is categorically telling you it’s a bad idea) regretting not taking a chance is much worse than ‘failing’ (as I’ve said before, there’s no such thing as failure!) The best things are apparently ‘outside our comfort zone’ – yet our comfort zone is exactly that – a protective bubble which we place around ourselves for a reason.

This is something I am convincing myself of at the moment. I think we all are! I know it is true – but risk-taking really is scary and I understand that.  Watch this space as I travel out of my comfort zone to see what’s really out there and prove it’s not as scary as we all think!

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