The numbers are bad! – How to lose yourself in social media

A virtual high five if you’ve seen LOST and know exactly what the picture and title above are all about.

Safety Blanket

I have only good memories of when I watched LOST for the very first time. It was my first year at University and the first year I could watch whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, for all the long and many hours I wanted to – because I now had my very own laptop.
I’m talking eight years ago and I was recovering from high school in solitude, but exploring the world with that laptop.

Unfortunately, nowadays, the online world has turned into some sort of high school 2.0 for me. Too bad I have seen LOST so many times now that it has lost most of its healing powers.

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Longing and Loathing

My real life nillies’ high school demons are only a mouse click away thanks to Facebook, but for this new era in my life, I’ve extended the size of my haunted playground. There’s plenty of room for all the people I follow and watch on YouTube and Instagram.

And they have the worst effect on me.

I find myself once again looking from behind a corner at the popular kids. With a constant mixture of longing and loathing.

You never know exactly why the other kids are popular and you’re only… meh. And it’s never going to change, it doesn’t matter what you do. How frustrating is that? The content is not important and you’re even willing to give up your entire personality, your creativity, your last spark of humanity – to be more like them.

Spoiler alert: this is a game you’re never going to win. Want to make it to the bonus round? Then remind yourself that none of this really matters – just like high school.

And remembering that, is exactly the tricky part I’m struggling with every single day.

Farts in Cans

YouTube is a wonderful place with so many creative people from over the world who are able to inspire me. The very first YouTuber I followed has deleted his account in 2015 and is now mostly active through Facebook. Gone viral with his Leave Britney Alone video ten years ago, Chris Crocker is still one of the best personas on social media in my opinion. His sketches and oneliners still get me everytime.
In all the hours I’ve spent on YouTube, I’ve gone through many different phases, to the point where I am today: tired of it all.

There are still channels that I’m happily subscribed to, but most of today’s content just makes my eyes roll.

The most popular girl I follow, is Zoella. Her earlier most watched videos were Primark hauls in which she frantically played with her fringe. Checking herself out in the view finder from behind that fringe, with one big blue eye.

Eight years later I still watch a lot of her content but it’s gotten mostly infuriating to me. She’s written three books (to quote her publisher: “To be factually accurate, you would need to say Zoe Sugg did not write the book Girl Online on her own”), has released many lifestyle products and she’s now at the point where she can literally sell farts in cans and still earn thousands of pounds with it.

I’ve read her books (and circled the spelling errors with pencil) and I’ve bought stuff from her first Zoella Beauty line, which I truly enjoyed. And I honestly think you can see in every new collection she releases, how she doesn’t lose any kind of creativity and passion. The good (and maybe surprising) thing is, all of her products are available for teenager friendly prices.

I live for her festive videos and room decor. But her general video content is just so banal. Banal nonsense nearly 12 million people are addicted to. I too watch her, talking gibberish towards her hideous dog and singing in her car, while I brainlessly eat my breakfast.

What is it about Zoella that makes me still click on her videos? Am I simply conditioned to this kind of boredom? What’s in it for me, except lowering my self-esteem even more after every video I watch?

Pop-up Store

A recent highlight of insanity has been reached now she’s collaborated with her boyfriend Alfie Deyes, as well as with her brother, Joe Sugg, for a new merchandising collection. There already was a Sugg life collection and for their most recent big project, they’ve simply added Alfie’s Pointless Blog logo to the plain and generic Sugg life merch.

With these subtle I’m volunteering behind the bar at this festival but at least I got a free T-shirt kind of products, they lure hundreds of fans to Covent Garden where they have a SL X PB pop-up store.

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First I thought: those fans don’t care about the thing they’re buying, it’s just a way for them to maybe get in contact with their idols. I can imagine they’d buy anything if it meant they’d be able to get a picture with Zoella at the venue. But now I see it differently: the demand is so big, aesthetics don’t need to be a priority. This is the only design the fans are getting, so they have to buy this if they want to express themselves through their clothing. A phenomenon I know very well, since my closet largely consists of fan merch too.

Popularity and Power

A little look around on their online shop has shown me that British vlogger and baking/lifestyle/makeup/dog enthusiast (and probably also writer at some point) Tanya Burr too has a part in this major rip-off: she’s selling these original quotes under her own name.

Brings me seamlessly to the point I’m trying to make: talented artists online and in real life alike are struggling to sell their unique pieces, but brainless shit like the cases above, without any personality, gets the people going. Why?

It’s very saddening that we prefer a certain product because a young woman with x million subscribers has linked her name to it, as opposed to, let’s say, a Hungarian woman trying to sell the pretty designs she actually made herself.

Why do I even try to understand this? Popularity in high school didn’t make any sense either and this is just more of the same madness.

Compulsive liar

But it’s the numbers on Instagram that haunt me the most. I struggle everyday with the likes, I feel personally attacked when I check my account in the morning, only to find out that I’ve lost five more followers while I was asleep. Maybe it would help if I got rid of this nasty habbit of trying to sleep eight hours a night and I’d better pull all-nighters instead. Commenting, liking and following, because then they’ll do the same with me, right? Right?

There’s this balance I’m trying to find: what would I like to post and what would my followers like me to post? Does it make me happier posting something that I like, or am I happier getting likes, even if it’s on a post that doesn’t reflect my personality the way I want it to?

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I don’t know where I got the idea that I should be able to compete with Disney girls who are in a Disney park every. single. day. and have an unlimited amount of fun, cute, but not so unique pictures. Why do I even think I should compare myself to those who have infinite resources to buy and visit all the things I love so much, but probably will never be able to have and see for myself?

Why do I have the urge to do that if I know it will only make me more and more unhappy?

While I initially have zero things to complain about, if I can just take a minute to breath and see things in the right perspective. Without numbers.

Knockturn Alley

Numbers that literally mean nothing, by the way. There are apps that help you get likes and followers. It might as well be a shop in Knockturn Alley, where sinister deals are made: you can collect coins by liking the pictures that appear on your screen (Tinder-like) and with these coins, you can buy yourself the amount of likes and followers you want. This whole thing is just insane and ridiculous and proves the point that there’s exactly no point to all of this. What’s making it even worse, is that the pictures you have to like in order to receive coins, are the biggest crap I’ve ever seen.

And I don’t need to be a part of that, do I? I should leave myself at least some self respect.

So it’s an effort, everyday, to stop caring so much about the numbers. They should not define me. Those flat lays don’t matter, they’re totally absurd even. What’s the point in wearing nothing but knee socks if you simultaniously have to warm yourself up with a hot cup of tea?

Invisibility

I thought being unpopular and invisible in high school was the worst. Now I’d like to blend into the walls on the street. I’d love to be invisible, as long as I can have a glorious well-liked and very visible life online. I have to get myself together, as I know it’s not a healthy lifestyle where I most value the opinions and attention of the Faceless Unknown.

I guess I can still wear my invisibility cloak to go outside, as long as I change my mindset: whatever I do online, from now on, it will be for me. To treasure memories and express my thoughts and creativity.

Please like, comment and follow if you agree.

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