I think by now we all know that social media isn’t an accurate representation of people’s real lives. It’s the edited version with all the happy, pretty bits that you actually want people to see. The perfectly angled and filtered selfies, the dinner from the hippest restaurant in town, or the perfect scenery shot.
People don’t tend to post the selfies from the days they haven’t showered and have spots on their face that filters won’t cover, they don’t show when they’re eating cereal for dinner, or when the scene in front of them is just a boring dirt road.
It’s just the way we have been programmed in this social media age. You have to show people all of the good stuff because people might look at you differently if you show a bit of the bad. Maybe it’s time to change that though. Maybe it’s time to show a little more of the real instead of just the highly edited version of our existences.
I’m quite guilty of only showing the good. In fact I’m one of the biggest offenders of that. I remember one time about a year and a half ago my aunt actually made the comment to my mom that she was really pleased with how well I was doing after seeing my posts. I think I actually laughed when my mom said that because the reality was that my anxiety was at an all time high, it was around the same time that my heart arrhythmia started so I was spending a lot of time in bed, and overall just having a pretty crummy time of it. I carefully posted on the “good” days with probably a pretty cheery attitude and it truly looked like everything was completely fine.
A couple weeks ago I decided that I was going to post something I would normally have never posted. I had to wear a cardiac event monitor for two weeks and I took great care to completely hide it whenever I would go anywhere. I didn’t want anybody to know I was wearing it. But then I decided to take a picture of myself wearing it and post it on instagram. It may not seem like that big of a deal but if you scroll through my instagram or most other social media you would have no idea how often I am at doctors offices, or getting labs done, or staying in bed when I feel like absolute crap. Most of the time that is my real life. Maybe it’s not something I should hide but instead talk about a little bit more openly. If only for the fact that maybe someone else will relate or feel like if they are going through something similar they aren’t alone.
I’m not saying that anybody is looking at my particular instagram feed with jealousy but I do know that there are so many people out there who look at others social media platforms and are so jealous of their life because they think they have the perfect life. Maybe they travel a lot, have a ton of clothes or makeup that you want, or live in a beautiful place, or have cute kids and a handsome husband, or whatever it may be that someone else might envy. They aren’t showing you the stress in their lives though, they aren’t showing if they are having financial struggles, or if maybe they suffer from anxiety or depression. Which is fine, because that is all highly personal stuff and nobody ever needs to share anything of that nature if they don’t want to.
Maybe it’s time to start showing a little bit of the crummy side of our lives though, the parts that we often tuck away in dark corners and don’t want others to see. That’s not to say we should all air our dirty laundry and let everyone know all the shitty things that happen to or around us. We are all in this together though and sometimes knowing that maybe you’re not alone in something might do a little bit of good.
Even if people don’t take to showing a little bit more of the real as opposed to the filtered I think we could all use the reminder that social media is just that. It’s filtered. It’s carefully constructed to show things that people want you to see that makes their life look like it’s all sunshine and rainbows when chances are there a few a few black nimbuses in there too. You can’t compare your nimbuses to others rainbows because they aren’t showing you that the darkness can be there for them too. You only have to worry about all the good things that you have in your life and that’s where it stops. It may look different from others but it doesn’t make it any less. So post the happy, a little bit of the sad, and remember to not compare yourself to anybody on the internet no matter how good you think they may have it.
Photo Credit: Emily McDowell / emilymcdowell.com