The Pressures of Social Media and Year Abroad

I don’t know about you, but I’ve grown tired with social media over the past year or two. Maybe it’s an early twenties life crisis, or maybe social media really has changed for the worst in the past few years. I just find that platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook have become superficial, in that people post things to show that they’re always doing amazing things or seeing amazing things, rather than posting content or photographs that they’re proud of. Am I being cynical?

In normal university life at Manchester, I could deal with that because I was just living my normal life. But moving abroad to a new place, unsurprisingly, is pretty stressful. I felt like I always had to explore and travel the new place that I was living in, so that I didn’t waste the opportunity of going abroad for a year. I felt like I had to take pictures and post them to document everything I did, because on social media, it seemed like that’s what everyone else was doing. I felt sad when I would see other year abroad students posting about their travels because I wished that I had done the thing they had done. I felt a lot of pressure basically, to be travelling and always be having a good time and always be out, because that’s what other people on social media were showing me.

This is obviously a bit ridiculous – I know I was thinking way too much into Instagram and what people post. After the first two months or so of my year abroad, I realised that I shouldn’t feel like this and I should be doing what I want to do, rather than what I think I am expected to do. I deleted Instagram, stopped posting on Snapchat, only went on Facebook for the memes. I stopped mindlessly scrolling through posts and unfollowed people that I didn’t really know anymore or that endlessly posted a perfect life, because that can be toxic to others. I tried to change my attitude towards my phone, used it less, read more articles and followed people that posted content that I was genuinely interested in. I realised that it was ok to take lots of photos of my year abroad – it’s a great way to keep memories. But it’s not ok to think that I should take them so that I can post them on the internet and show people what I’m doing.

I don’t know whether this anxiety is something that other people have felt on their year abroad, or it’s just me. But I’m trying to live by the fact that life and travelling should be about what you want to do, not what you want to post about. Year abroad is never completely happy all the time and it’s not possible to be able to travel all the time, but that’s ok, it’s all a learning curve.

Here’s some photos that I only just recently developed from my film camera. They’re not really amazing or anything, but they’re ones I am really proud of taking.

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