I don’t think I like this little life: Stop romanticising your student life

If, like me, you often find yourself endlessly scrolling through TikTok and Instagram Reels, I’m sure you would have come across the trend where people show off the small highlights of their day-to-day lives to the ‘I think I like this little life’ sound. However, there was something about this sound that inordinately annoyed me – more than just the irritatingly cursive singing of the lyrics. And also more than the way in which another supposedly wholesome trend had descended so quickly into a means of highly privileged teenagers and young adults flaunting the luxury items and experiences that make up their affluent lifestyles. I realised that this trend was once again feeding into the existing online discourse surrounding ‘romanticising your life’ – something I had been feeling uneasy about for a while.

Upon reflection, the reason why I have felt so disillusioned with this concept is due to its disingenuity. Symptomatic of social media’s pathological need to display aesthetic perfection, this only drives creators and consumers of this material to disconnect from reality. By turning even the smallest details of daily life into potentially shareable content, these details become another target for comparison between those sharing and those watching – and, subsequently, a source of insecurity. The hallmarks of these TikToks and Reels start with the smaller details such as the acts of buying flowers, going for walks in nature, and spending time with pets, yet the real successes of these videos actually appear to come from the expensive home décor in the background, living in nice areas, and expensive-looking holidays.

By assigning social media currency to this romanticised view of a person’s daily life, we are suggesting that only the moments that are worthy of posting (i.e. ‘aesthetically pleasing’ moments) are valid experiences. But what happens to those who are unable to perform in this homogeneous way? For the vast majority of people, this perfection is unattainable.

For university students, especially, this romanticised perfection is impossible. The nationwide experience of being a UK student involves poor quality housing, rising costs of living, and a lack of financial aid to help with these problems. Alongside this, the number of mental health problems being experienced by UK students is simultaneously rising. In this vein, the desire to escape into romanticism is more than understandable, but this only exacerbates the problem. Regardless of whether or not this superficial emulation of a perfect ‘little life’ receives the online validation of likes, comments and saves, nothing changes the underlying reality of knowing that this version of life does not truly exist.

I am obviously not advocating for people (and university students, in particular) to stop looking out for the joyous moments in life. Some elements of student life can be incredibly tough, so these are imperative. What I am suggesting is that the best way to find a sense of peace and contentment with life may be to disregard the need to share this on social media. Sometimes life is boring, unaesthetically pleasing, and sad. But that is okay. Whilst I am aware of how basic and cliché this sounds, I feel a need to return to basics after being caught up in the mental manipulation of social media superficiality. Why not do something that you previously would have documented on social media (like going out for drinks with friends or buying yourself some flowers) without doing so? Enjoy the moment for yourself, not for a perceived wider online audience.

Ultimately, I think people should become much more comfortable with reality and accept how the mundanity and imperfection of life is a sign of normality rather than inadequacy. There is no need to romanticise a life that you are already content with.

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