I’d like to say that I spent my summer in a beautiful exotic country, reclining on a sunlounger and sipping a Mojito. Unfortunately, this dream did not become a reality: my non existent wage as an unpaid intern meant that my funds stretched just far enough to buy the occasional Kinder Bueno from the Co-Op.
Like most of us do, I spent my commute scrolling through Instagram, watching story after story of what felt like everyone I knew jetting off to distant and exotic countries. Realistically, most of my friends were working this summer. However, I convinced myself that the two weeks that they spend holidaying represented their entire summer, whilst I was taking the same grimy train between Kent and London three times a week. It’s embarrassing how long it took me to realise that spending hours looking at highlight reels of my friends jumping into the Mediterranean perhaps didn’t make me the happiest that I could be. We all know the pitfalls of social media, but like most people I find it difficult not to get sucked in by my Instagram feed, scrolling even when it notified me that I was “all caught up!”
I decided to take control of my social media habits; what was it about social media that actually made me happy? I was already following a few small illustrators on Instagram and their work popping up on my feed always made me smile. I started to follow more illustrators, which led me to more people who were sharing their artwork online. They posted a diverse range of artwork, body positivity and female empowerment was often a theme, with illustrations also adding a voice to topical issues such as Greta Thunberg’s speeches on climate change. My favourite illustrators often draw inspiration from their own lives, detailing how they have overcome personal insecurities or even just sharing quick and relatable drawings of their days. After a few weeks, artwork was featuring on my feed more and more. Instead of feeling jealousy and comparing myself to other people when I scrolled through Instagram, I was coming across pockets of creativity and positivity. Whilst I think that any type of mental health awareness is a good thing, I’m wary of the “self-care” culture on Instagram; realistically, looking at an aesthetic image with a feel-good slogan will never solve anyone’s problems. However, as cheesy as it sounds, it has made a difference to how I feel when I use social media and, until the day that I can curb my Instagram addiction, that can only be a positive thing.