MY SECRET YOUTUBE LIFE BLOG TOUR: My review for My Secret YouTube Life by Chloe Seager + Chloe's post on Instagram VS Reality

When I was contacted to participate in the blog tour for My Secret Youtube Life by Chloe Seager, I jumped at the chance! Social media, vlogging, and Instagramming plays such a massive role in most young people's lives. It plays a massive role in my life. I always appreciate it when authors include it in their books, as it's something that pretty much all young people can relate to. However, not a lot of books explore the darker side of social media - the harassment, the pressure, and the toll it takes on a person mentally and emotionally. My Secret Youtube Life traverses the more potent side of social media with authenticity and sensitivity, resulting in an eye-opening book that many will be able to relate to.

My Secret Life has two narratives that run through it: Lily, a famous YouTuber with 3 million subscribers, and Melissa, one of her biggest fans. Melissa is a devout viewer of LilyLoves and the owner of a small blog with 50 followers called IssaAdores. She aches to have Lily's seemingly perfect life. However, the desire to do so causes Melissa to start fabricating her life and weaving a thread of lies. As her blog grows bigger, her lies do too. At the same time, Lily’s struggling to maintain the picture perfect lifestyle she shares to her followers. As the lies grow bigger and the desire for perfection and popularity too, both girls will face dire consequences and learn hard lessons along the way.

This is an important book, and I think it will be good for people, especially young adults, to read. Seager manages to present social media in a honest way, highlighting the positives and the negatives, such as how with YouTubing and blogging you can connect with a whole community and find a place of belonging among other viewers and readers. However, she also addresses the darker side of social media with unflinching honesty: the comparison games, the pressure to live what others think is a perfect life, the invasion of privacy and the fragility of fame. A lot of people, myself included, can find themselves looking at someone’s social media profile or vlogs and thinking “I wish I had their life”. This book was a brilliant reminder that things may look perfect but are far from it. It’s also an essential reminder to live in the present and take a break from social media.

I also appreciated how the author included two narratives in My Secret YouTube Life, as it added extra depth to the now; it allows readers a chance to fully understand the difference between how people perceive things and the actual reality of a situation. I didn’t particularly like Melissa, as she just went too far trying to present her life as perfect and completely different to the one she had. Her actions were juvenile and irresponsible which was quite frustrating to read. However I'm glad the author included it, as it brought awareness to the danger of idolising social media influencers and the consequences of creating a facade of your life. I liked how alongside Melissa’s drastic actions the author also brought attention to the more subtle ways in which we deceive others by social media: photoshopping and tons of filters. The message to be genuine and real was brilliantly expressed. There was character development though! Melissa learned! Yay!

I loved Lily though. The pressure she felt to be perfect and the amount of time she’d take trying to present a perfect life was painfully real. I loved that she rediscovered her love for YouTube and found a way to help others through YouTube. It reminded ME of the purpose behind starting my book blog. Sometimes you just need to take a step back when things feel overwhelming and remember your love for it and why you started it in the first place. 

The author captured the two narratives brilliantly. A lot of books I've read that feature dual perspectives make it quite hard to distinguish between the characters' voices, but the author made both characters' voices unique which I was highly impressed by! I loved the inclusion of two narratives, as it starkly expressed the significant difference between reality and our social image. It was a brilliant way of representing the damage social media can have on our self-confidence and happiness.

I also adored Lily’s relationship with her mom. It’s so rare to see loving family dynamics represented in books, so I was very happy to see the love, support, care and wise advice Lily’s mom provided her with. Lily went to her mom when things got tough; she was her best friend. I have a similar relationship with my mom, so it made me incredibly happy to see such a loving mother daughter relationship represented in in YA! 

Chloe Seager sensitively and honestly explores the effects social media can have on those behind the screen and those watching the screen. With the inclusion of making mistakes and learning from them, strong family dynamics and authentic writing, My Secret YouTube Life is a must-read for our generation.

One of the important issues Chloe raises in her book is how different the image we portray on social media to reality. Below you will find the brilliant piece she wrote e on the difference between Instagram VS reality...

We all know that Instagram filters can smooth out bumps, blemishes and imperfections, but recently Insta-models have been calling out the fakery. Take Jazz Egger, who in 2016 recaptioned all her photos with #TruthBehindThisShot and explained the reality behind her posed Instagram photos. One caption, of her looking tiny in lingerie, read: “My agency told me on that day that my hips were way too wide and that I needed to lose weight in order to have a chance at London Fashion Week. I already was underweight so I decided to not lose any weight."

Or model Essena O’Neill, who in 2015 recaptioned her Instagram photos with the statement “NOT REAL LIFE”. Beneath one photo, of her sitting on a beach in a bikini, she wrote: “took over 100 in similar poses trying to make my stomach look good. Would have hardly eaten that day. Would have yelled at my little sister to keep taking them until I was somewhat proud of this. Yep so totally #goals.”

As these models have told us, it’s important to remember that the best Instagram photos take hundreds of take to create – and then a lot of time to carefully edit the photos.

Of course we all know nobody looks as effortlessly glamorous as they do on Instagram, but when you see photo after photo of stunning models, it’s easy to get sucked in and compare your reality to someone else’s edited life.

In response to these curated pictures, there’s some great movements on Instagram which aim to boost confidence by promoting acceptance and showcasing the reality of our bodies and faces. From acne-positivity to body-positivity, in many ways social media is allowing people to challenge the traditional media’s ideals of beauty and redefine what “beautiful” or “perfect” means for themselves.

Scrolling through Instagram can be a great past-time, but it’s important not to use it as a way to compare yourself to others. If you follow a lot of models or beauty bloggers on the platform, I’d recommend mixing it up with some body and face positivity bloggers so your newsfeed doesn’t just show one form of beauty.

Making good Instagram photos takes a lot of hard work, and certainly isn’t effortless. My number one tip for teenagers who use social media is to make sure you don’t get overwhelmed by trying to keep up with an idea of perfection that (really) doesn’t exist.