Social media is a funny thing. It has a bad rap recently with different groups of people for different reasons.
The biggest factors being that of body image or comparing our lives to those of others. At least that’s what it seems to me by the people I choose to follow and the things I see, hear and read when the impact of social media platforms is concerned.
I think the thing that we often forget, but always need to remember, is that Instagram (and other social media platforms for that matter) is a highlight reel of the best bits happening in somebody’s life.
Very few people decide to post photos of their bad hair days, share puffy eyed post-cry selfies, we keep our cellulite hidden and only upload photos taken at our best angle or with a fully made up face.
On the same token, we also only post photos of the nicest views we witness, the perfect art on top of a latte, sunset cocktails and the beautiful moments with friends.
For all of these reasons and so many more, social media can indeed be damaging to the self-esteem and, even if we are completely aware that it is a portrayal of only the best bits, we often can’t help but compare our lives to others that appear to be living some kind of never ending dream.
I’ve been there. I’ve seen couples constantly holding hands in videos and out on “date nights” three times a week, forever posting nice words about each other and kissing at sunset. I’ve asked myself why I don’t get to live a life like that with my husband, I’ve questioned my own relationship entirely based on a judgment of an online perspective of somebody else’s.
And do you know what? I realised that this is absolute bullsh!t. I don’t need to post photos or words online to show the whole world that I love my husband or need him to do that in order for me to know that he loves me. Quite frankly, I don’t actually care in the slightest what anybody thinks of my relationship and, regardless of whether I choose to post it online or not, nobody will ever know what goes on behind the scenes so who has the right to judge?
And the same is true for me. I can’t judge people by the words they post, by the perfect hair they have or the dream life they appear to be living.
I’ve been told by several people that it looks entirely like I am the one living this life of utter bliss, luxuriously traveling the world on a yacht and seeing the most incredible places and how jealous people are. But that’s unfair. It’s untrue. I often find myself actually trying to justify the fact that I get to post these gorgeous photos of sunsets & pretty white beaches. It’s not all glorified gorgeousness, but I certainly do take a moment to appreciate it and soak it up when it is.
Yes, I’m lucky. Yes, I’m happy. Yes, I’m doing all of the above but boy do I work damn hard as well. I just don’t share photos of the fact that I had five hours of interrupted sleep last night or that I was only starting to make dinner for guests at 9pm.
No, I don’t share that because nobody cares. And neither do I. I don’t share it because I’m not looking for sympathy or attention, it’s simply the reality of what is. It isn’t interesting and it doesn’t concern anyone.
For these reasons and more, I’ve slowed down using my “personal” Instagram account because life is far too short and precious to spend it staring at other people’s amplified lives and consequently worrying that our lives aren’t as interesting, exciting or meaningful.
Instead, I choose to scroll through my “food” Instagram account. I created this about two years ago as a personal diary of the food I’ve cooked on board so that I can refer back to what meals I’ve served to which guests, what pairings I’ve come up with, my plating ideas and more. This account has grown into more than that, it’s become a platform I use to share with others, to be inspired and seek recipes. I have met fellow yacht chefs through this account and continue every day to be motivated by other people’s creations from all corners of the globe, be it in high end restaurants, a home cook or a new ingredient made available.
Although there probably was a stage that I once did, I no longer feel envious looking at other people traveling to picturesque places that I in fact know are overpriced and overcrowded. I have come to realise that a lot of photos are taken after a long wait for the perfect moment to capture a photo without all the tourists in it. After perhaps wishing for a moment that I were there rather than here, I simply snap back into the moment and enjoy the views, hoping that the photo taker is enjoying their holiday for the moments themselves and not for the fulfillment of sharing it online.
I feel inspired and uplifted when I see somebody tag me in a post saying they created a dish based on something I made. I feel motivated when I see somebody else in a similar position making something with ingredients I have available to me. I feel a deep sense of gratitude when I reach out to somebody six time zones and thousands of miles away for a little advice and they share so openly and lovingly their wisdom on an ingredient I am not familiar with or provide a tested recipe out of the kindness of their hearts.
I also feel a sense of accomplishment when I get appreciation from fellow chefs or fellow instagrammers on my creations and hard work, though I do by no means share my photos for praise.
That, my friends, is what social media should be about.
On my food Instagram account, I follow accounts that have millions of followers, three Michelin stars and the biggest names in the game and I also follow fellow nomads like myself just cooking for a living, playing with food for fun and creating homemade creations to the best of our abilities.
Making this switch to follow only the things that will uplift, inspire and motivate me has changed the way I view social media in a massive way.
Granted I sometimes sit there staring at a photo, salivating and saying to myself “man, I wish I could create something like that”, I don’t sit and drool over women in bikinis wishing I had more time to workout or tone my thighs to look better at the beach. (I do that without needing to stare at photoshopped people 😉). I also can’t deny that I do sometimes find myself comparing my dishes to others or comparing my photography skills (or lack thereof) to other instagrammers, but I choose to rather compare my current dishes to those I was creating when I first started cooking on yachts six years ago and appreciate the distance I have come on my own journey, because in the end that is the only reality I am certain of, that is the only comparison that is valid if I do feel the need to make any at all.
What we follow is a choice and how we perceive the falsified reality of Instagram is even more of a choice.
Make wise choices, friends.
And the first wise choice you can make is to follow along with my adventures for real food, cooked by yours truly. Sometimes it’s a fancy plate of food for the guests and sometimes it’s a simply baked muffin. You’ll see me asking for advice in my stories and sometimes rambling about a bad day. It’s all about balance.
Head over to @sailingfooddiaries on Instagram to join me on my journey.
And don’t forget, the highlight reel of social media isn’t real life.
See you on the ‘gram!