We have all been there. You log onto your social media account and you are confronted by pictures of your friends’ fabulous vacations, a night out with the boys/girls, cute babies, or dinner at a fancy restaurant; A post about how happy they are in their relationship, successful careers or how much they love their job plus all other kinds of ‘I’m doing great’ stuff.
And you are left wondering why your Facebook friends’ lives seem so much better than yours. You can’t help but wonder why they seem to live in world you can only dream of ÔÇô a world where they are ever happy and seem to live large. Well, maybe, it is because that is what they want you and the rest of the world to believe. It is all about one’s personal image.
“Always seeing that kind of stuff makes me love myself a lot less than I should,” says one social media user.
But doesn’t this feeling amount to jealousy? “No it’s not jealousy,” she insists. “It goes beyond that. Jealousy is just a fleeting emotion. Instead what it does is make me feel inadequate; like suddenly my life is not all that. It gets me thinking ‘what am I doing with my life’. It’s more about making me feel less of who I am as a person than it is about jealousy.”
But aren’t we all guilty of such posts? “The last genuine post I did was when I was in Cape Town because I wanted to share my experience. We are all guilty. I could easily have gone on without sharing stuff about the trip,” she says.
More often than not we post, tweet, or gram about things that we feel can enhance the way people perceive us but the reality is most of the time our lives are not that interesting. We only pick sometimes original and at times choreographed bits and pieces of what we want the world to see. Usually the stuff we get up to is a lot less interesting than we would want the world to know.
The world is definitely not going to know I had a fight with my girlfriend this morning, and the many previous days. Most people wait for that perfect moment when all is rosy and we are having a good time so we can share that moment with the rest of our social network community. Heck! I may not even have to wait for that. I can simply just keep up appearances and say how happy we are. Who will know?
When taking a selfie, I don’t just share the first picture that comes out. There are dozens of selfies behind what you eventually get to see on the social media. And we do not eat fancy meals all the time but don’t expect to see that not so good looking plate from the street vendor on my timeline. We drink at the shabbiest places but if you are looking for a picture wait until I visit the trendiest hotspot in town. I don’t vacation all the time but the rate at which I keep gram-ing pictures from the past would make one think I do. My ‘normal’ days look far too different from the stuff you get to see online.
It involves the routinely boring circle of waking up in the morning, taking a quick bath, driving to the office, getting some work done, knocking off, having a drink or two with the boys at a convenient spot, going to bed, and doing it all over again; Just your typical stuff, nothing special. The weekends are just as bland.
But is that what I would usually want the world to know other than for the purpose of this article? No. The stuff I tweet, post, gram about is just a tiny, sometimes edited fraction of what really goes on in my life. If my feeds were anything to go by then it would probably look like I am having the time of my life day in, day out. And I know a whole lot of people whose feeds reflect the kind of life that we only get to see on television; Pure glamour. But should that give me reason to feel less good about my life? Hell no. Should you feel less of a person because you get fewer ‘likes’ than your friends? Of course not; nobody needs gratification from social media to feel special about who they really are.
Social media should not define you or your status as a person. Or in Paul Jarvis’ words “…no one is living a perfect life. I’m not, you’re not, and no one is. And that’s totally ok! Everyone’s got their own ups and downs. Everyone’s life is filled with f**k-ups, mistakes, disasters but also amazing beauty. The bad stuff, the boring stuff, the stuff not worth mentioning, makes us value and hold precious the bits and bytes that are worth experiencing and sharing. Choose to be good with your life without comparing it to anyone else’s lifeÔÇèÔÇöÔÇèwhich is hard, but necessary.”