Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Editing Emma Blog Tour

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the Editing Emma blog tour! Today I have a brilliant guest post from Chloe Seager on growing up online and I'm giving 3 of my lucky readers the chance to win a copy of the book over on Twitter.

Online Pressures For This Generation by Chloe Seager

When I was a teenager, I don’t think I realised just how new or strange a thing social media really was. I was part of the first generation who grew up with it, and everything in my life being public seemed pretty normal to me. I remember my Mum being totally scandalised by pictures of me and my friends in bikinis ‘on the internet?!’ and shaking her head at our constant selfie-sharing. But looking back, I think I’ve gained some perspective on what a strange thing it actually can be, and what kind of additional pressures social media put on my teenage years. 

Genuinely, I went through a phase where I almost felt like things weren’t real unless they were put online. Like, if we didn’t get a photo of our evening out…did it even happen? I also went through a phase where if I had a terrible time, I would think to myself, ‘it’s ok, at least I got some pictures that look like I’m having a good time.’ Looking back, these aren’t particularly healthy thoughts for a young person to be having. What kind of value system is that? One where I comfort my lonely, sad self with the image of myself seeming happy and fulfilled? In many ways, I think I could even look at pictures of times that were truly awful and convince myself I was having fun…which is even more bizarre than convincing other people.

Thinking about it, though, it’s not all that surprising. When you’re fourteen years old and everything in your life starts getting uploaded, to start defining yourself by that content almost seems inevitable… or at least, for the lines to blur. Even if I knew logically that other people weren’t always as they appeared in their content - I got told it time and time again, and I knew that I myself wasn’t always completely truthful - all these smiling, shining pictures of other people did (and still do) make it hard sometimes. And probably for some people more than me, who was lucky enough to have a decent group of pals. A friend I met in adult life said before social media came along, she might have been at home alone on a Friday night…but no one would know about it. She knew on a vague level that other people were probably out having fun, but didn’t have to get smacked in the face with it. But once Facebook happened, not only did she know for sure that she was never invited to parties, but it was also suddenly like everyone else could see her own lack of social life. ‘Why are there never any pictures of you?’ they would ask. It highlighted how left out she was at school in a very public domain, to the point where she considered taking dressed-up selfies that made her look like she was going out. (She didn’t do this in the end, and deleted her social media instead).

I think it must be even worse for teenagers now than it was for my generation. I did definitely think about how I was coming off - what with reams of embarrassing photos being uploaded against my will, and thinking ‘I look so ugly there’ and ‘how dare they upload this,’ and obviously using it to look a certain way (a la Emma) e.g. wanting to look like I was having tons of fun even if I wasn’t, or wanting to seem like I was SUPER HAPPY AND FINE to spite an ex boyfriend or a mate I was fighting with. But I do think it’s even more extreme now. Probably the most creative choice I’d ever made on social media was what song to choose for my MySpace profile, and now each and every photo that gets uploaded has a zillion filter choices. It’s a whole different world than it was ten years ago and in general I think the emphasis is now on quality over quantity, which in many ways puts way more focus onto one’s image.

There are benefits to this, though. I asked my boyfriend recently, who never got a FB account as a teenager, but did get Insta later on. He said he didn't like the way Facebook made his whole life public in a way he couldn’t fully control, whereas with Instagram he mainly chooses what to share. In a way I totally understand that… It also gives room for you to be creative and explore your own identity, which is such a huge part of being a teenager. But imagining my teenage self with Instagram, I can see just how incredibly neurotic I would have become. It’s not just ‘here’s me on a night out,’ any more, it’s like… ‘here’s my bedroom,’ ‘here’s my plate of food,’ ‘here’s my everything’ etc etc. I think though the amount of content might have decreased, people expect to share even more aspects of their lives now than ten years ago, and naturally, the need to present oneself a certain way will become more extreme along with it.

I think social media can be wonderful but as with anything, it has its pros and cons. It’s great way for teenagers to connect, but it can also compound loneliness, and exacerbate what can already be an isolating period. It’s a great way to express yourself and be creative, and I think it allows teenagers to be more switched on and worldly than people without it would have been. But then again, figuring out who you’re supposed to be over those years is difficult enough, without doing it in public. It seems like it applies pressure for the decision to be right now, and to be fully formed. Whilst it can give you a boost, it can also make you feel low and leads people into pretending or putting up a front. In the end, I eventually figured out how to use it in a way I was happy with; everyone probably has a different relationship with it and needs to find their own balance. But I don’t envy teenagers (like Emma!) having to go through that. In hindsight, it was such a big part of my own teenage life that I knew I wanted to write about it in Editing Emma.

For your chance to win a copy of Editing Emma head over to Twitter 

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Blog design by Imagination Designs using images from the Valentine Owls and Valentine's Day clip art kits by Pink Pueblo