I’ve had a Facebook account since I was 11 years old. Social media has been completely influential in the way that I grew up. I was practically raised on Twitter and Instagram, and I went through a phase where I would spend hours watching YouTube videos from vloggers like Jenna Marbles. To me, Instagram almost feels like a diary.
I love memes and stan culture. I grew up on Vine and then watched the platform die in 2017. My childhood consisted of knocking on doors so I could ride bikes with the neighborhood kids, but I also have memories of crowding around the desktop computer in the den.
The internet a social media have morphed into something that I don’t really care for. We’ve all learned basic internet etiquette, but some of those rules are changing. When I first started my Facebook account, I would post silly photos. Facebook would ask me what was on my mind, and I would answer. And bonus! My news feed was in chronological order, a feature that I wish was still an option (because I hate the algorithms). But that’s not what it’s like anymore.
Now, social media is something you’re supposed to use to “brand yourself.” To me, this has built a superficial culture. We’re warned that future employers are looking to make sure our pages are clean of profanity and photos that might show some skin. Will your future employer find your memes and GIFs good for the company’s image? This has made the social media experience a little less enjoyable.
On top of that, Instagram has lost its once-whimsical touch. Everyone’s photos are perfectly edited. Your bio is supposed to show off your witty personality. I even changed my Instagram account into a business account so that I can see analytics and stats about my profile.
On social media, we watch celebrities flaunt their money and success. Everyone looks like a supermodel, and it can feel like a competition when you’re trying to rack up likes. People collect thousands and thousands of followers, and this means they now have a monetizable platform.
Now Instagram is full of advertisements, not just by the brands you follow or that Instagram has tailored for you, but also by your favorite influencers. It seems like the connectivity of social media is losing its authenticity, which has created a perfect environment for finsta culture.
A finsta, short for “fake Instagram,” is a private account for people who want to share more personal content with followers they trust. The follower count is often a lot smaller, as the content on finstas is typically not safe for work.
I have friends who post photos where they feel good about themselves, from smoking hot selfies to a full-blown nudes. I see people who have found a place to feel comfortable talking about their successes, but also their failures. Some own up to how they’re really feeling and are more genuine than the image we are expected to present on a public account.
But it’s also through social media that I’ve found a community surrounding the black hair care movement and I first revealed my sexuality to what some people may say are strangers online. It’s a great way to keep up with what’s going on in the world while also finding like-minded people who share worthwhile content. Still, this may not be something that your employers are used to seeing from their employees.
Social media isn’t bad – there’s nothing wrong with a little FaceTune. But it’s important to remember that everything is not as real as it may seem. And it’s OK if you want to take the whole thing a little less seriously.
Put the phone down and soak up the real-life experiences. Enjoy your life and social media, and try not to stress about creating the perfect image for your future employers to see. Let them Google your name. You don’t want to work somewhere that won’t accept you for who you truly are, anyway.