Finding Myself in the Media Age

Like most people with access to a smartphone, I spend a lot of my time on social media. Endlessly scrolling, looking at God knows what, hopelessly trying to stumble upon something remotely interesting. I’m always alternating between different apps, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Tumblr, in an attempt to distract myself from reality. Everyday, I waste so many precious hours staring at the palm-sized screen in my hand, internally debating if it’s really worth so much of my attention.

After much thought, I’ve come to realize that I have a love/hate relationship with social media. On one hand, it’s a powerful tool that allows people to express themselves, interact with others, and be informed of what’s going on in the world. On the other hand, social media can leave many people vulnerable to misinformation, harassment, and unethical behavior. I think my biggest pet peeve with social media is that it gives off a false sense of what is real and what is not. So many things in society are now defined through social media, such as the ideals of beauty or lifestyle choices. It has an overwhelming power to determine how people will judge and value others and that’s the part scares me the most. I feel that it’s hard to figure who I am when I’m constantly bogged down with the idea that I might not be living to the standards dictated by social media.

My ultimate goal in life is to love who I am and express myself fully and unapologetically as a black woman. I still have a long way to go before I reach that point. However, seeing what seems like a never-ending stream of unrealistic standards for black women on social media can be really discouraging when you’re on the path of self-growth. When certain physical features and behaviors are regarded as “beautiful” or “in” by the majority on social media, it can be a tough pill to swallow once you realize that you don’t measure up. In a way, empowerment seems to only apply when black women look and act a certain way, but in my opinion, that method should be changed to include a wide range of people. It should embrace differences and uplift those who don’t fit the common mold. People have such diverse personalities, qualities, and features that excluding them would only make them feel less valuable to others. Growing and learning to love ourselves is already a difficult thing to do, so it seems unnecessary that society adds to that burden by creating standards of what’s in and what’s not.

As great as social media is for keeping us entertained and in the know, it should not be the means by which we measure our worth. As for me, I try to remind myself all the time that the progress I see in other people’s lives on social media does not equal a lack of progress in my mine.

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