Social media - a blessing or a curse? Obviously it can be both, and now that Facebook and Twitter have been around for more than a decade, there are plenty of scientific reports investigating their effects on individuals and society. Instagram at seven years old is a relative youngster, but like a small child it's really making its presence known and it seems as if almost everyone is "doing it for the 'gram".
There's no denying that social media can have a positive effect on your well-being - chatting to friends, discussing hobbies and interests in groups, promoting your business, sharing exercise regimes or healthy eating tips, recommending books and films - there's a long list of "good things"
Of course there is a flipside. The term "insta-envy" has made its way into our vocabularies and it's a condition that can be quite contagious. So many Instagram feeds are glamorous and exciting, showcasing perfect lives, bodies, homes and more. Some people can't seem to help making the mundane look marvellous.
Surrounded by all this bright and shiny beauty it is so easy to compare and consider ourselves inferior. I'm very new to Instagram and I'm old enough and (I hope) wise enough to view it with a dose of healthy cynicism. Yet I still get sucked into scrolling through perfect pictures of perfect people and wishing I had a nicer house or better clothes or, at least, wishing I could take better photos.
That's the time to step back. Looking at pictures of beautiful gardens or cute pets isn't going to do much harm but if you start to believe that you don't match up to others then a reality check is due.
Did anyone ever tell you "don't believe anything you read and only half of what you see"? A bit of a sweeping statement but it is applicable here. These perfect lives are curated, only the best bits are put on show. No-one really lives like this - if they do it's their problem, not yours. I came across a feed the other day which, at first sight, was breathtakingly stylish and beautiful. An entire life in the "now" colours of blush and rose gold - everything - clothes, beauty products, home furnishings - everything! It looked enchanting to begin with but what about variety, spontaneity, fun? I ended up feeling a little sorry for this lady - and I did wonder if, in the unlikely event of me being invited for tea, she would only serve fondant fancies and pink wafer biscuits!
By all means enjoy social media but don't let it be your yardstick. Use your own filter - your common sense. Remember these images are highlights not the whole show. Choose who you follow - someone can inspire you but no-one should upset you. If they do, use that unfollow button.
Don't just think about what others are posting, what about your own feed. Keep it real, keep it light-hearted and keep it honest. Forget about the likes. If people like the real you - they really like you.