Social media, its social influence, psychological manipulation and delusions of social hierarchy are topics that I've referred to frequently throughout my articles and this is merely due to the fact that it is so obtrusively, so seductively there in every facet of my life. I find social media in all its forms – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – philosophically challenging and conceptually fascinating for its ability to entice and violate every level of our psychic apparatus. I wholeheartedly accept that my approach to discussing social media might be tedious and my conception of it may well paint me as somewhat of a luddite but I think it's important to understand the full scope of what we engage in when we use these platforms. More than anything, I'm just appalled at the sheer waste of time that my use of Instagram and Facebook represents – if Instagram has honestly given me any more valuable information than the shape of a girl's arse that I happen to walk by once a year in Surry Hills then I don't know it.
In the weeks preceding Christmas I attempted to consciously abstain from Instagram as much as was practical and have been trying to enforce the same behaviour ever since (although, yes, it is proving difficult and I find my hands logging into the app by no other compulsion than the undetectable itch of my ego). Some degrees of behavioural separation from Instagram have nonetheless taught me a lot about my own cognitions and I quickly grew to be more discerning when I did start browsing that nauseating feed again.
The most notable difference that I can determine almost immediately when I restrain my time on social media is the fact that I actually despise myself far less than usual when I am not confronted with the aesthetic glory or the rampant incandescent achievements of another woman's life. I feel kind of fine about myself – isn't that just the most preposterous novelty? In fact, this effect has been noted steadily in the scientific literature lately and you can search any number of studies that observe a correlation between social media use and lowered feelings of self worth. The fundamental issue with Instagram is not so much that we are consistently exposed to beautiful people (in fact, as a model my visual experience is swamped by the bloody things on a weekly basis) but more so that we can directly observe the adoration they receive for their triumphs of being a fuckable human on the Internet. It hurts because we're injected into an unforgiving social hierarchy that ignores our nuances, our idosyncrasies, the quiet remarkable faults that make us utterly loveable and social media instead aggrandises the vacuous uniformity that renders the privileged few deified.
This disregard is compounded doubly by the shameful insistence of the "Bio" section – 50 characters or so in which you can whittle your personality and environment down to a pill-sized format and consequently feel thoroughly oppressed by the negative space and prodding reality that your achievements can not satisfactorily represent your identity as a brand.
In Spent: Sex, Evolution and Consumer Behaviour by Geoffrey Miller, he puts forward the argument that social media's success is solely a result of its function as a shortcut in advertising oneself as an ideal mate. Through this lens, we can become far more critical of our obsessive preoccupation with sharing our bodies and successes online as well as the tendency to reel painfully at the sexual competition we're accosted by. This is interesting not only for the fact that we can begin to construe our online behaviour as a highly intentional process, not entirely based on self-observation but also because we're faced with the notion that social media and its faculties are tapping into ancient and fundamental reward processes. We're rats pressing on levers – only in G-strings with Emoticons.
The things that bother me the most about social media, however, are the things that I believe have tangible repercussions in the way we we interact with one another and the world. The disquieting idea that we insist on perceiving ourselves as commodities in a "Like" economy and misunderstand our value beyond it. The fact that we're constantly observing and remarking upon ourselves in an infinite, narcissistic cycle that distracts us markedly from things of greater consequence. That sexuality can no longer be quiet or privately owned, it must instead be drawn out, dismantled and displayed. That everything, everything must be politicised, must be a statement. And perhaps most upsetting of all, that we comprehensively fail to feel without projecting; our internal experiences are no longer ours to keep.
Note: I say these things with the total comprehension that I am complicit in these cycles, that I am part of this world and embody these problems. I would love nothing more than to remove myself entirely from the sphere but here arises a deep conflict that I am ashamed for: in some perverse manner I find successes in Instagram. If it weren't for my profile, my constant saturation in media, my observation of others, I wouldn't have a career in fashion. It is difficult to function as a model on Instagram when I understand the idleness and ridiculousness of the whole charade, where my 'authenticity' becomes a marketing term rather than an inherent part of myself. I do maintain in this scenario, as in every other detail of life, that all you can ask of someone is to think and – forgiving the clumsiness of my prose and propensity for rambling – this is all I can do for the moment.