(Published: 12th December 2018, Switch Off Campaign.)
Photo: Work Work Work
“I started to feel really uncomfortable, I was sending out the message that my life was only the fantasy,” says Katherine Ormerod, author of Why Social Media Is Ruining Your Life.
Working in fashion editorial for over a decade, from Grazia to Glamour, in her book Ms Ormerod traces her relationship with social media back to her final year at university in 2006; introduced to Facebook while the platform was still in its embryonic stage and exclusively available to students.
After starting at Grazia in 2012, she bought an iPhone and launched a personal Instagram account under her editor’s instruction. Although her content was closely linked to her career, she felt concerned sharing her personal life would risk her integrity as a journalist – a worry prevalent within the industry during Instagram’s onset.
In Why Social Media is Ruining Your Life she explains: “That was seen as something bloggers (still a dirty word back then) did, not journalists on a reputable publication. Peers who had started to get involved were often ridiculed for their posts, and self-promotional content was equated with extreme narcissism.” Somewhat bizarre in light of the social media faux-pas which is now created, especially within fashion industries, by not posting a photo of Product X and thanking @PersonY for always keeping you in rotation of #BrandZ.
After launching Work Work Work, an anti-perfectionism project exploring the genuine challenges women face behind the social media façade, Ms Ormerod’s book began as “a rejoinder to that fantasy and to be open and real about the many challenges and spokes that have been in the road for me. When I really started to delve into the research it made me feel even more passionate about it.”
“I definitely conquered most of my demons before I started writing it,” said Ms Ormerod, regarding her own relationship with social media. However, authoring Why Social Media Is Ruining Your Life further instilled her with a responsibility to use social media platforms positively and continue to moderate her own personal use of such platforms.
Covering identity, body image, health, relationships, motherhood, career and money and politics, Ms Ormerod notes the chapter on motherhood was the easiest to write as she was 38 weeks pregnant whilst doing so. Why Social Media Is Ruining Your Life is aimed towards a female audience and Ms Ormerod believes: “The social media experience is definitely gendered—in that more women are present on every social platform and they spend more time and put greater weight on their relationships on there than men.”
When speaking with male readers, she says the effects of social media on children and methods for using platforms within brand building are frequent topics of conversation. The first direct response from a male reader, in regards to her book’s subject matter, was actually from a member of the Switch Off Campaign.
“However, of course that doesn’t mean that men aren’t susceptible to many of the issues—especially when it comes to comparison and perfection. The pressures that believing that social media constructions are reflective of other people’s reality are intense for anyone—no matter what their demographic,” said Ms Ormerod.
Finally quizzed on how can people develop their relationship with social media in positive way, Ms Ormerod gave us the following five tips to help kerb your screen time:
1. BUY AN ALARM CLOCK.
“No-one practising self-care should have their phone by their bed—we all need space to transition into and out of sleep and these moments find us at our most vulnerable to messages we consume via media.”
2. UNFOLLOW PEOPLE WHO MAKE YOU FEEL NEGATIVELY.
“But replace those with accounts which you’ve actively sought out—it’s your job to curate your own experience.”
3. TAKE YOUR EMOTIONAL TEMPERATURE.
“If you’ve been having a rocky time at work or issues with your relationship, understand that it might not be the best time to start scrolling through other people’s perfected lives. Other times you might take it with a pinch of salt.”
4. BE SAVVY TO FACT THAT YOU ARE THE PRODUCT.
“Social media companies make their money by persuading you spend more and more time on their platforms. They sell your eyeballs to advertisers, end of. Be ultra-aware that social media is an environment where huge multinational companies are profiting from your attention. So, if they come up with a new feature, understand it’s only been devised to encourage you to spend even more time on your screen—it is not mandatory that you use it.”
5. ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT…
“the versions of people’s lives that you see on social media are 1/100th of their every day. I take literally hundreds of images every week and share only a very few. As do many, many people.”