Is your online life more satisfying than your real life?


By Lucy Willis, junior strategist

November 29, 2018 | 4 min read

Social media is undoubtedly a great place to connect with long lost family, share some big news or keep up to date with friends. But this virtual world may be affecting our real life in more ways than we realise.

A line drawing of two people holding hands.

Are we losing our grip on reality?

US psychologist Sherry Terkle has spent decades studying and writing about the relationship between ourselves and technology, researching the ways in which each is adapting and changing the other. Stating that we are becoming ‘alone together’ in the presence of technology. That our reliance on social media and mobile technology is damaging our ability to foster real meaningful relationships, sending a quick emoji is easier than a conversation in person right? Moreover, it’s changing our day to day human behaviours and encouraging new, potentially damaging habits to develop.

Brands are also now becoming more aware of the impacts of social media with clothing store Monki recently launching the All The Feels campaign, centered around this topic, in support of Mental Health Europe. Talking to three social influencers they highlight the realities of living within the modern social world. Thankfully, this type of large scale brand campaign is only expected to grow.

So step away from your phone *only after finishing this article, of course* and have a think about whether you fall victim to your online life:

  • Doing it for the gram. A phenomenon that’s overtaken social media and real life is the idea of doing things or going places purely just to post about it on social media. This compulsive need to gain likes, have a beautiful feed and tell a story has has overtaken our daily lives. That pasta will be cold before you’ve taken the perfect picture, but who cares if it got over 100 likes?!
  • Friends with influencers. Making and maintaining friendships is hard work, no one has time to reply to messages and organising get togethers is near on impossible. So the tempting lure of the influencer friendship is stronger than ever. Your favourite beauty guru, mummy blogger or Fifa fanatic can feel like a friend but without the effort of reciprocating. It’s often referred to as the ‘Goldilocks’ effect and seems like a win-win. But are we neglecting spending real time with our nearest and dearest?
  • Filter fiend. Taking the perfect selfie isn’t complete without that Snapchat or Instagram filter. Blurring your skin, adding a twinkle to your eye, what’s not to love? But this handy photo fixer can be quite damaging to how we behave and perceive ourselves in the real world, with many of us wishing we could carry a filter around with us. Traditional media such as magazines have always been perceived as damaging to body confidence, yet technology is allowing us implement these behaviours and views ourselves.

As technology and social media continue to develop, it’s important to make that distinction between our online and real lives. Understanding if our behaviour is changing as a result of it and whether this is could be impacting ourselves in real life.

Lucy Willis is a junior strategist at Wilderness


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