The following statement is about to sound pretty narcissistic, but stick with me…
I am often told that my life seems amazing on social media.
I post a lot of happy pictures and I’m constantly busy, so I can see where people get the idea. I do generally love my life, but it was when an acquaintance went as far as to say that I looked like I was, “happy all the time,” that I, ironically, felt sad.
Though I’m incredibly fortunate to have a wonderful network of love and support, by means of my family, friends and boyfriend, my life is in no way “happy all the time,” or perfect.
I believe the only place that perfect exists is on social media. We are the content creators, and we’ve gotten so skilled at making images seem better than reality.
It bothers me that I, too, am playing the game of make believe when it comes to portraying myself online. I wouldn’t dare share my moments of despair or defeat on Facebook, because, quite frankly, I don’t want anybody to see it. As a result, my online communities are only seeing my “best-of” moments, and therefore think these are the only moments I have.
What people aren’t seeing on my social media pages are the darker, or even just plain dull, moments of my life. And what they are seeing may, admittedly, even be a fabrication of what really happened.
What they also aren’t seeing is that, I myself, look at other people’s profiles longingly– jealously flipping through pictures of people with better bodies, better social lives, or more rewarding careers. What if we’re all just sitting behind a screen wishing for something else, instead of appreciating what we have?
This is one of the exact reasons that I wanted to start Soul Cookies. I believe that we live in a culture of false reality and constant comparison, and I believe that we are destroying our self-esteem with every newsfeed thumb swipe.
Here’s an example:
30 years ago, let’s say, a young professional’s peers were numbered, and the only way to find out about their lives was by word-of-mouth. More than likely, they weren’t often reminded of other’s successes, and if they were, there wasn’t much context for it.
Now, when a 22-year-old graduates college (if they’re fortunate enough) they are able to find out whether every last one of their peers found a job, whether it was cooler than their potential job, and how many Likes their announcement post received. It’s enough to make you wipe tears off your keyboard and apply to 40 unpaid internships. I survived it and it was really hard.
We log in to social media to see what others are up to, and a lot of the time, it makes us feel insufficient. Worst of all, we’re constantly looking.
So, why don’t we make a pact?
Since we likely can’t agree to give up social media, what if we all agreed to be a little more transparent? What if our photos were a little more honest, and read a little something like the following?
“Me and my best friend at the bar! I stayed out for a half hour. Lol. #2Filters”
Maybe this is a dopey example, but I bet it would give far fewer people FOMO* for not going out that night.
In honor of my Soul Cookies Blog, I’m going to make a promise to try to be more transparent. I promise that when I do add a happy photo, the intention is not to make other’s feel bad. I likely won’t stop sharing all of the positive moments, but I’ll remember not to fabricate when they aren’t.
I’m also going to try remembering that when I look at someone’s social media pages, I’m only seeing their best-of moments. Perhaps, the person I’m longingly stalking is doing the exact same thing to someone else…
Will you give it a try, too?
*FOMO = the Fear of Missing Out; a feeling we constantly get when looking at social media.