Social Media: Image Vs. Impact
I live in Los Angeles. I love it here. But don’t get me wrong, almost everybody is trying to get famous.
Too many of my interactions here have been accompanied with the undeniable sense that everyone is trying to get something for themselves from whoever the most well-known person in the room is that day. Weather it’s a check, a selfie, an endorsement, or just plain old validation, everyone wants to be seen with the famous person. They want the image of success, fame, and value by association.
While some LA kids are chasing an image, some of us are chasing something different.
We are chasing impact.
Today I want to talk about social media. I want to talk about followers, and I want to talk about chasing impact vs. chasing an image.
I’ve always felt like the most important calling on my life was to have a positive impact on lots of people. I still feel that way. But with social media, it’s easy for the lines to become blurred pretty quickly between the number of likes on an instagram picture and how many people you are actually blessing during your day.
I’ve found on some days that my feeling of self-worth becomes tied to a number on a screen. And suddenly my estimate of how well I’m doing with my life is wrapped up in an app on my phone.
It’s really easy to start to feel like the only way to have an impact is if you have a big following.
But it’s not true.
Dear Impact Chasers...
I believe that the impact of a life is measured in quality more than quantity. Let me explain.
If I have a few seconds in an elevator with a stranger I try to say something nice when they leave. If I have a moment with a cashier who I usually wouldn’t notice, I call them by name and ask how their day is going. I’m trying to look people in the eye more and at my phone less. Every day I try to compliment someone. I try to thank someone with a thankless job, make someone laugh, and say hi to someone I may usually be too shy to say hello to. There’s so many things we can do… drop an encouraging word. Call a friend to catch up. Buy coffee for the person in line behind you. Tell the homeless guy hello. Open the door for someone.
These are the small moments we are all given every single day to have an impact. We may not be impacting 1,000 people, but we might impact one. And that’s enough.
Lets be real. When I die, I don’t think people are going to remember the picture of my dinner that got 10,000 likes. They’re going to remember the small, personal moments of impact. I heard a quote once that said “people don’t remember what you do as much as they remember how you made them feel.”
If you’re like me, I hope you know that those little moments matter. On my darkest days, a small kindness from a stranger has sometimes been the thing that helped me keep going.
It’s so easy to get on instagram and feel like you have nothing going on in your life.
Everyone seems hotter and richer than you, and nobody else seems to be dealing with anything close to the shitshow that you are dealing with (speaking from personal experience here!). In many studies, levels of depression are showed to be significantly higher in people who spend more time on social media.
Lets be honest.
We post our highlight reels, not our behind the scenes footage.
How often do we say, “I don’t have enough money for rent, I’ve got a dead end job I hate, been crying all day, and it appears I’ve gained six pounds. This is a great time for a selfie.”
Because we only want to post on our best days. And even our best days aren’t usually as good as we try to make them seem on our Instagrams.
Dear Image Chasers...
I get that there is massive pressure to keep up with your competition. I get that people can be harsh and cold and judgmental and that a lot of people (especially in entertainment) are judging your worth by the number of followers you have. I'm right there with you.
But I also realized a few things.
In reality, aren't we all sort of a disaster, posting photo-shopped moments in hopes that someone else (who is also a disaster) will think that we've got our shit together and that we're really good at life?
Can we just agree to break the cycle?
Can we share our successes but also messy days, too? Can we post our hottest picture and also post our sweaty days at the gym?
I know a beautiful girl with a lot of younger female followers. Lets call her Shannon.
Shannon photoshops almost every picture to make herself have unattainable curves. She has her lips done, her brows micro-bladed, and her eyelashes extended. She has a nose job, and some really good spanks. She has butt injections, and usually has a hair stylist, makeup artist, and a clothing stylist on set. She has a bomb lighting set and really great editor. She posts FIRE pictures every day.
I love that she hustles, gets her team together, and creates art.
What I don't love is that she doesn’t ever post pictures of herself without all that stuff, and she pretends like it's all natural.
She's told me that she doesn’t want people to see the "real" her because she doesn’t think she would be as successful, and she's not sure that people would like her anymore.
And honestly I get it. I've felt that way too.
But a lot of young girls look up to Shannon. And a lot of their comments imply that they feel like they aren’t good enough the way they are and wish they looked as perfect as she did.
They don't know its photoshop.
And they are disappointed because they don't look like that.
And maybe they take strides toward a perfection that doesn't exist by doing things like not eating, or hating what they see in the mirror.
Trust me, I was one of them.
I'm not against sharing a photo-shopped life. I'm against a lack of transparency. I'm against people feeling like they're not enough because we are too scared to admit that we aren't perfect.
Last year I made a post on Instagram after a performance in an arena where Snoop Dogg and a bunch of other amazing people watched me perform. What I failed to mention in the post is that the day before, I was cleaning a frat house toilet so that I could afford my rent that month.
I didn’t want my fans to know that I struggle, too. I wanted them to believe in the image.
I was chasing the image instead of the impact.
I wasn’t brave enough to share that part of my story.
And I missed an amazing chance to emmpower other girls who may be working minimum wage jobs while chasing their dreams. I think about it now and I wish I had told that part of my story. Because maybe one girl like me, in the middle of an 8 hour shift at a job she hates would’ve said “Wow. Emm and I are doing the same thing. If it’s paying off for her, maybe it will pay off for me too.” Instead of saying “There goes EMM, everything looks perfect as usual and I’m here, miserable at this shit job wondering if this is worth it.”
I could of given someone hope. Instead I chose not to share. And because I was too worried about my image, I lost an opportunity for impact.
Here’s the thing.
I’m over the mentality of everyone trying to impress each other. I just don’t care anymore. The truth is, all of us have a mess. But when none of us are brave enough to share it, everyone suffers.
I want to have the impact more than the image.
So here’s my new goal:
I want to be brave enough to show the whole story.
I want to share my toilet cleaning moments just like I share my arena moments and not be afraid of "losing followers" for that. My real fans know whats up.
I want to share my broken-out bloated days just as much as my supermodel days and ignore how many likes it gets.
I want people to leave my social media feeling encouraged, uplifted, emmpowered, and braver.
Lots of people all over the world can take a sexy selfie. But it takes a special person to be kind in a cold world. It is rare to find a person that goes out of their way for strangers. It’s rare to find someone brave enough to share their worst day on social media.
We are enough. We are more than a number, more than an image, and more than our latest achievement. We are powerful. We can use our platforms to bring hope and healing, or we can use it to try to fit in. We can be brave and share our true selves, or we can try to keep up with the facade.
We can chase image, or we can chase impact.
What will you chase?