You’re so vain

Have you ever noticed that the pictures you post of yourself tend to generate more ‘likes’ than the ones you post of say, the beach or your sandwich? The selfie has taken the world by storm and people are loving it. I have to wonder though, are the likes we’re receiving a gesture of support, or something else?

The truth is, people are vain. Why else post a close up of your face or a bikini pic on the beach? Whether it’s that you like the way your body looks, your smile, or the palm tree in the back, you are asking people to take time out of their day to look at you and what you’re doing. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this, I’m guilty of doing it myself, the concept just makes me curious.

Since I started this blog I’ve put a lot of thought into the image I’m portraying and what I can do to appeal to everyone. How do you get more likes, more shares, more comments? What can I do to ‘build my brand?’

I find that the pictures I post using my face or my body tend to generate more likes than say, a picture I took of a lake or some seashells. Even the pictures I post of my boyfriend and I seem to do better than others, so I can’t chalk the additional likes up to creepy dudes hiding in the woodworks.

Many times, liking another person’s picture is not an unselfish act, hence the hashtag #likeforlike. When I get a ‘like’ from someone I’m not used to seeing on my feed, my instinct is to check out their posts, and generally, I return the favor. We support other people’s vanity because it doesn’t make us feel so bad about our own.

Honestly, the more selfies I see online, the more likely I am to post my own because it makes me feel a little less like, for lack of a better word… an a**hole.

Vanity used to be looked at as a bad thing, but now we call it ‘self-love‘; and how can anyone frown on the concept of embracing and loving yourself? At the same time, these acts of self-love can be damaging to those with a low self-esteem or anyone who may not have a significant following.

If you keep up with Bachelor nation’s Kaitlyn Bristowe on Instagram, you may have seen her recent post stating that depression in young women is increasing by 70% due to social media. While I wasn’t able to identify where the statistic came from, to me, it’s entirely believable.

I like Kaitlyn Bristowe because she keeps it real even though her status as a reality TV star has provided her a large following (of mostly young women). Like many of us, Kaitlyn posts edited pictures of herself wearing a full-face of makeup. The difference is, she probably gets a lot more likes for them.

When Kaitlyn read this stat, she decided to spread awareness and posted a makeup-free selfie with no editing. And guess what; she got nearly 3 times the number of likes she’d received on her prior *edited* selfie featuring a full face of makeup.

To me, the feedback to Kaitlyn’s post says a lot. While some people enjoy having the ability to whiten their teeth and smooth out their blemishes with an app, there are plenty who would love to just be appreciated for what’s natural about them.

This and a recent conversation with a friend got me thinking.

It’s important to remember that the number of likes on a picture does not indicate the number of friends a person has.

My Instagram account has experienced a surge in likes over the past few months, and I have a pretty good feeling as to why. My travels in Brazil have exposed me to a realm of newness. I’m posting pictures that my followers may not be used to seeing, and with that, the likes tend to come more naturally.

Social media causes its fair share of problems, but I think we all know it’s here to stay. That being said, there are ways to deal with the negativity surrounding social media without bashing it and the people who use it.

Platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook provide people the opportunity to express themselves, promote their brand and explore what’s around them. It’s all about connectedness and using these tools to your advantage.

The beautiful thing about these outlets? You get to choose your audience. You have the option to make your profile private or public and the power to block whatever trolls pop up on your feed. Nevertheless, there are people who will keep the critics around because, for them, negative attention is better than no attention at all.

My point is, it’s up to you to control your exposure on social media. If you don’t like what you’re seeing, you have the option to block or unfollow. It’s not reasonable to complain or judge other people when you know very well what your options are.

Social media has the power to play on our insecurities, but it is not the reason behind them.


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