This week, the Bow Wow Challenge took over the internet. Rapper Bow Wow posted a picture on Instagram of private plane flanked by Mercedes cars with the caption “Travel Day,” suggesting he was traveling via private plane. Soon thereafter, a picture of the rapper on a commercial flight made the rounds, pointing out the hypocrisy of his social media posts. This event led to the #bowwowchallenge, where people post on social media one photo that looks impressive, then another showing the entire, less-than-impressive story.
It’s a prime example of pop culture imitating real life. Who hasn’t posted a strategically-cropped, overly-filtered photo that makes the situation look better than it is? I know I have. At the very least, most of us choose to omit posting about the negative parts in our lives. Our social media becomes a meticulously curated “highlight reel.”
It’s been shown that social media use is positively correlated with depression. It’s not clear whether social media use causes depression or whether depressed people tend to use social media more, but the correlation makes sense. I have experienced the phenomenon of social media depression–Scrolling through my feed, it seems like all of my friends are getting promoted/getting a new car/going on vacation/getting married/having a baby/achieving other major life milestones. I’ve also experienced using social media more when feeling negative emotions.
Especially when there’s nothing particularly good going on in our own lives, it’s hard not to feel like we’re getting left behind. One thing someone told me that really stuck with me is that social media can breed unhappiness because we are comparing our “behind-the-scenes” to everyone else’s “highlight reel.” It’s hard to remember as we scroll through our social media feeds and see the new cars/gourmet dinners/five-star vacations/elaborate weddings/etc., but it is worth it to try. This is why it is so important to be careful about our social media use. It’s certainly something I am trying be more mindful of.