There are plenty of positive avenues and people you can follow on social media that can uplift you. However, that doesn’t seem to be the primary use: pumping one another up. With the prevalence of social media today, it’s becoming this lifeless animal used to create envy and has people seeking a sense of belonging when social media cannot ever make us belong. We may “fit in” with our own stories, but it’s a false sense of connection that’s leading to more animosity in real life. In some cases, its starting to become a pissing contest as to who has the best life. Who looks happiest in their relationships? Who took the coolest vacation or did the craziest stunt, and lived? Alternatively, there’s also a lot of oversharing out there, which used to be kept in private, from people desperately seeking human connection. Who can blame them, really? We all want connection and belonging, those are human needs.
We see these pictures and we think “oh wow, that must be so amazing to get to do that!” Hopefully, those people are enjoying their lives when you get to see them up close, too. It got me thinking about what we post on social media in general, that a lot of the intent is to show the world how awesome your life is and make people envious. No one wants to put up their hardest challenges. Let’s face it though, that’s where we are vulnerable and where things resonate with us. So, how awesome is that person’s life, really? The ones constantly posting how awesome and perfect their partner/kids/job/hobbies/life is without touching on any challenges? How present are they in those lives if the focus is constantly to put every detail of their days online? If they aren’t present, how can they be fulfilled?
I don’t say that to knock anyone’s choices of what you put out there. I applaud those of you who are vulnerable enough to seek help on social media. While it doesn’t tend to lead to the connection we seek, it’s not out of the question that your story resonates with someone and you get the support you need. Seriously, I have zero judgement for any posts, if I don’t like the content, I can simply stop following that person, there’s no reason to judge them. Why I do say that though, is to get you thinking. Why are they posting that, and what do you NOT see in those pictures? Take this picture of me above, for example.
What you see is me standing in front of a breathtaking back drop, with a huge smile on my face. Pretty epic, right? You see my hands doing really weird things because it didn’t occur to me to put my frigging lens cap in my pocket first. You see I am not making the normal V for Victory, its more of a box. Like “hey…look at me! I’m on top of a mountain!” But what do you not see in this picture?
You don’t see that my right knee is much bigger than my left because I’m 6 months post-op from a total knee replacement, where I developed CRPS, and got stuck in scar tissue twice. I’m hiding it with my left leg. You don’t see the tears of joy in my eyes that I could climb that hill to get said picture. You don’t see that I don’t have my arms up in a normal V because I have frozen shoulder and a herniated disc in my neck which prevent full extension. You don’t see how much I miss my fur babies, especially my puppy. You don’t see the constant hum of anxiety keeping my mind racing, or the fact my hair is really short under my hat because about 2/3 of it fell out from stress and health issues. You don’t see that my body was in so much pain and I was exhausted, because the bed at the hotel was horribly uncomfortable and set off the issues in my lower back, as well as keeping me awake all night.
We all want to put our best faces on social media, myself included. The next time you start to envy what you see in someone else’s pictures though, stop and ask yourself: what am I not seeing? What is that person currently dealing with, behind the pictures? I’m not suggesting you judge, I’m suggesting compassion. Reach out directly and privately, perhaps offering that connection they seek.
Take a look at your own motivation when you post. What is driving you? Connection? Wanting to one-up everyone else? Ego? Genuine desire to share and help others learn or grow? Anger? Jealousy? Easiest way to keep extended family and friends up to date with you and your children? Zero judgement again for any of those motives, I’m simply inviting you to take a look. Everyone is on their own journey, at their own pace. We are all doing the best we can, and there’s no need to judge or envy someone else’s life. Be present in your own life. Have compassion and joy for those you see online, don’t waste your precious energy envying them. Let envy serve as your own personal map to go after whatever it is that appeals to you, so that you can have that for yourself. A picture may speak 1000 words, but there are also 1000 more that its not telling you.