Thoughts. Experiences. Inspiration.

A comment on "My social media image was a lie"

November 24, 2015 0

This is an issue that strikes close to home particularly because I spend a lot of my time online. It is always there, it is just so easy to do but what I have come to realise is that many of us use social media as a crutch. It has become our de facto source of self-entertainment when we are bored and we need to keep ourselves occupied. We scroll incessantly to keep our minds stimulated and distracted which is actually pretty dangerous. How so? Well, why would you want to distract your mind when you already spend the majority of your waking hours distracted as it is? Distracted from what? From the practice of learning how to control said mind.

And since when did a ‘Like’ become a measure of our self-worth? Hmmm just some thoughts… and the irony? Many of you will probably find out about this posting via Facebook 😀 😀


Her caption read “Edit real caption: I was 16 here. 16!!! I did not wear this outfit out of the house, just for the photo. What is the obsession with trying to look older, sexier?”

Blog post:


Brave, brave girl to expose herself like this and although she has faced a lot of criticism, whatever her real reasons are for speaking up, doing so will inspire some to rethink how they use social media.

1) I do agree that we can’t believe everything we see online. Social media gives us a false sense of identification with the people who publish the content; we think we know them based on what they make public but in reality, social media is a product of the people who use it and they can control whatever it is they want to say (which may not always be the truth).

2) one perspective (which I feel was lacking in Essena’s expose of her carefully crafted life) about social media is that we also have to take responsibility for the decisions we make. It’s one thing to blame social media for pressuring you into creating this illusion of a life; it’s another thing to dress up, pose for the photo, edit the shot, type in the captions and hit publish. At many points along the process, there were many opportunities for Essena to say ‘no’ and stop perpetuating the trade

3) having said that, I do understand where she is coming from. Although the prevalence of social media in our lives is a relatively new phenomenon, it has in a short time become very effective in encouraging and reinforcing the many afflictive emotions that are already within our mindstreams.

This is another article that details the thought process of someone who decided to dress up like Kim Kardashian for a week:

If you read the article, you will see the girl talks about how gradually, the pressure to fit in, look good and maintain the image starts to affect her. Despite the physical discomforts, she continues with the project and later, understands how people can be hypersensitive and very affected by the smallest criticism on social media.

So actually, social media is not developing anything new. What it does is highlight qualities that are already within us, and amplify it and spread it around the world much, much more quickly. What quality is that? The all-pervasive ‘I’ – social media is the perfect, FREE tool for self-promotion. It is the perfect tool for people to circumvent hard work – for many people, we will never be able to live the lives of the rich and famous but still, we want it without the hard work. It is the perfect tool to reinforce our habit to compare ourselves with others, and develop covetousness.

4) people who make social media their lives and take their cues from social media should perhaps reevaluate the priority they place on it. In actual fact, it is nothing more than a tool which, as Rinpoche says, can be positive and empowering. It can be used to bully people; it can be used to help victims of bullying.

The key issue here is the motivation with which we employ social media to get our message across. Therefore we can’t blame the tool forever. Before social media, there were other inventions and technologies that had were exploited for positive results, and for negative results. It’s like they say with photography. When you take a bad picture, is the equipment responsible or is it the responsibility of the photographer?

5) people who use social media have a responsibility to recognise the impact they have on others who are following what they are doing. When people tell us things when we are young, it has an impact on the way we think. What more is there to say about social media where things stay online for you to revisit over and over again?

So for the people on social media, are they spreading beneficial messages? Are they helping others developing positive attributes or are they using social media to fulfil some kind of deep-seated insecurities that in turn exacerbates the way someone else feels?

As Buddhists, when we use social media, we should remember that the Buddha’s guidelines on what constitutes right speech are equally relevant. I quote from

“Monks, a statement endowed with five factors is well-spoken, not ill-spoken. It is blameless & unfaulted by knowledgeable people. Which five?

“It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of good-will.

“A statement endowed with these five factors is well-spoken, not ill-spoken. It is blameless & unfaulted by knowledgeable people.”

Reflections and Teachings

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