Experts on why social media should not be a gauge on your real life

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Social media influencers are often posting trips, couple goals, or the perfect ‘me time’ in curated content. But when cameras are off, the shiny life turns off too.
Social media influencers are often posting trips, couple goals, or the perfect ‘me time’ in curated content. But when cameras are off, the shiny life turns off too.
Maryna Terletska

“Haybo, good morning, whoo whoo whoo whoo woo woo” has become synonymous with the introduction to very luxurious and alluring content on social media.

Content that, as ama2000 would say, “is giving”. Whether it's grand hotel rooms, inviting safari rides or appetizing breakfast spreads, social media post can leave a lot of people saying "sbwl" or even that they are "manifesting". They have you wishing you were part of the passport gang.

But as the old saying goes, all that glitters is not gold. 

Social media expert and PR guru Teboge Ditshego says the current generation has the pressure of perfection because of what they see on the internet.

“Even when young people make mistakes nowadays, they are public and permanent. This is all happening while they are trying to find their identity and to mature. As you get older, your ability to assess and discern improves. I think we need to have empathy and be kind to the younger generation.”

He says what is posted on social media is often unattainable for some people.

“There is a very unrealistic spread of content where people only post the good times. You cannot judge your life based on other people’s highlights. This then creates unrealistic expectations for them.

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“I think there are virtues that young people need to be taught, like delayed gratification, patience and that success is not something that is achieved overnight. People see vacations that are posted and never wonder when they (people on vacation) work to actually afford these luxurious vacations because they’re always on vacation.

“Social media users should be more responsible in what they consume. You have people who want to compete on social media because they want to demonstrate that they have made it.”

Tebogo says communities have more to do with this than they realise.

“This is a direct consequence of not having role models in our communities. Young people are now looking to social media for inspiration and aspiration. Yet on the internet there are so many people who hide their source of income.

“We should mentor young people so that they can know how to operate in the real world and have a strong sense of self. They need to know that the information they consume is also consuming their morals. Young people should not need to feel like they need to live up to the standards or to compete with strangers on the internet, who they do not even say how they got their money."

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Unisa’s Dr Joshua Ndlela, who is a also a psychologist in private practice, says it can be dangerous to gauge yourself against other people’s social media posts.

“You should not base your priorities or even your dreams on things you see on social media because so much of it is staged and not even real. People need to learn to live within their means.

“It is okay to aspire to achieve certain things, but you should not envy people who post on the internet because it is not fair on yourself or your mental health.

“We have found that social media has become narcissistic where people make up their lives to look like something that it is not. Then the challenge is that young people, who do not even know how that wealth is obtained, put unnecessary pressure on themselves to have the same.”

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