On The Pressure Trap

Instagram, likes, filters, aesthetic, pressure.

First five words that come into my head when I hear the word social media: Instagram, likes, filters, aesthetic, pressure.

Yes, pressure.

Social media was invented by some guy who was really tired of sending messages and needed new friends. Did I just imply that Mark may have been a genius who was tired of his old squad? Yes. Did I just call the inventor of Facebook by his first name? Yes, come and beat me.

Anyways, I digress.

What might have been a simple way to connect and share has easily become one of the largest pressure traps for people young and old. It's more than just about sharing what we like, promoting businesses and just having fun. It's also about who's with who, who's wearing what, who traveled where, who broke up with who, who ended up with who after they broke up with their other who...

It's easy to get caught up in all the love and lifestyle. And I don't speak from the sidelines. I've seen couples who've made me want a relationship of my own only for me to look at my contact list and discover half the males I know are in relationships, and there's a reason why the other half aren't (no shade, brothers). Oh wait, that's another reason: a good number of the really good ones are brothers, in Christ or otherwise.

I've also seen girls looking really good on their photos. Like, really really good. What we call "looking like a snack." Meanwhile, your girl is out here looking like she ate all the snacks. But you know, comfort is key.

My point is, we are unable to see the outside world without relating it to ourselves. Rather, everything we come across affects us in one way or another. It could affect our views on stuff, our attitudes towards a group of people and most importantly our views on ourselves.

Here's the thing about social media that these people with 1 million followers won't tell you: it's not all real. A part of it could be, but not all of it. No one looks perfect with laid edges and rock hard abs every day. We all have those days where we look like we're dealing drugs. Or taking drugs. Or both. I look like that a lot. But this isn't about me. Also, no one is constantly happy, every day. But social media tells a different story. There's people on there who incessantly post and in their posts they're so happy. There's nothing wrong with that. What's wrong is the fact that someone out there sees this happy posts, and they're unhappy, and they decide that they're unhappy because they're not as rich or as pretty or as loved as these social media people.

We prioritize on being happy, fit, perfect, boo'd up, all for the likes, so much so that we tend to forget to be these things in real life. The notifications popping up on our phones make us momentarily forget that after all is liked and commented (see what I did there?), we will end up exactly where we were before.

I've heard stories of couples who've stayed together just cause of social media. Where, they're not happy together anymore, but social media thinks they are so they keep going, because wataambia nini watu? What are they gonna say to all the millions of followers who follow them solely because of that relationship? Those Instagram in laws who are watching every move and will not hesitate to insult them for wasting their time when they break up. (Side note: if you want to be a public figure in a relationship in Kenya, make sure you people marry because if you don't, you and your newly insignificant other will have insults thrown at you and your mothers. And Kenyans don't just insult you. They will remember all the stuff you did but they pushed aside cause you and your boo were looking hella cute. They will insult you in every language. Be warned. No pressure, though)

So, because you don't want your mother to be called a bad name, because you don't want to lose followers, because you love the validation, because you love that someone looks up to you, what do you do? Take a selfie with your not so bae. Argue a bit because that's all you do now, then post it. For a moment, the likes and comments and heart eye emojis make you forget that you're not happy.


The story probably goes the same way for the always prepped girls and guys who've never looked bad on any of their posts. Some of them are really really struggling. But you won't see that. How would depression look on such a nice feed? It would spoil the aesthetic. It would mess with the grid.

Here's my two cents on this whole thing. Share what you wanna share on social media. But in no way should these things be a lie. Everything should be a true reflection of who you really are and what's really going on. I'm not saying to post photos of you crying because that's what's really going on (that's cringe worthy lol), but control the wave, don't let it control you. Use your platform to inspire and build, and I believe this can only happen when you're real. Because when you're real I relate to you more, because I can see that on some days you look like a sack of potatoes the way I do sometimes, but yet on others you really show out so I can too.

I will shamelessly advertise my social media handles now, because I'm shameless and it shows. I'm @akinyisylvia_ on Instagram and @sylvia_syfa on Twitter. I don't always follow back (immediately loses 20 followers) because if I followed everyone some of you would make me go get a tummy tuck. Or a boo. Or both. But I'm funny sometimes. I hope that counts.

I sign off with lyrics to one of my favorite songs:

Pressure gets hot

And with heat comes mirages

So you think it's cool over there."

- Comparison kills, Jonathan McReynolds.


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