This is part 2 of 3. If you haven’t read part 1 yet, reading it would probably be to your benefit. :)
All the world’s a stage
I think each of us are on a stage. We give a public presentation of ourselves to an audience – the people walking by us on the streets, our co-workers, friends, family, and our virtual friends on social media. When we go out on stage, we pick the parts of ourselves that we want people to see. Most of the time, the parts we show are the best parts of ourselves; the romance with hubby, the fun dates, the fashionable outfits, and the good hair days. We don’t typically show the usual parts of ourselves; the sweatpants-wearing nights watching netflix, the bad hair days, the sick days. We don’t take selfies when we are pale from vomiting, or of the downtrodden face we have after getting into an argument with our spouse. We mostly post the significant moments that make it seem like we are overall happy, because the other more realistic, everyday moments are meant to stay behind the stage curtain; you know, the arguments we have with our spouse or family, the financial stress, the problems to solve…
I have found that I don’t typically get like this when I see my close friends’ lives play out in social media because well… I actually know them well. I can be happy for whatever great thing is going on in their lives because I have more of a relationship with them and truly do care about them. The best part about this is that we know each other well enough to remember how imperfect our lives really are.
It’s different, however, in following people we hardly know over social media. We think we know them because they share enough about their life for us to virtually know them. Maybe the real internal dilemma comes with this situation of not knowing if the life they are portraying is realistic or not. Because then the worrisome questions start within ourselves like: “Is my house supposed to be as clean as there’s all the time?” or “How can I look as well-dressed and done-up as she does when I have a giant to-do list and two kids to take care of?”
Who is to blame?
At first, I blamed it on them – the random blogger that has this terrible power in making me feel bad about my life. And then I realized that it’s not actually their fault, because no one is telling me I have to feel a certain way; I choose how I want to react. I can’t blame them for wanting to show us their best self, because of course we all want to share the best parts of ourselves! We don’t want to be that one friend we all have, who seems to always post a depressing “pity-me” status, haha. If all we see are the hardships, complaints, and unhappy parts of each others’ lives, it can make us unhappy, too. I guess it’s just difficult to see someone having a seemingly perfect life, when I’m struggling. I just have to remember that I’m the one who has the power to decide if it’s going to bother me or not.
It has taken me time, and a few conversations with friends to help me realize two things. The first one I mentioned in part 1 (the last post), is that when we feel more content with our own lives, what other people are doing doesn’t bother us as much. On the long days of stress or unhappiness in life or specifically in our marriages, it’s easy to wish things were different. When we have that mindset and then start flipping through our phones to see pictures of others in married bliss, what do you think is going to happen? We’re going to compare our life to that person’s life and we’re going to feel like their life is better.
The second thing I realized was that what we see may not necessarily be real life. These people aren’t as perfect as they seem. Maybe they aren’t having as much fun as they portray in their pictures. Do they spend more time trying to get the cutest picture to show everyone instead of enjoying the moment? And their cute clothes - I wonder how much money and effort it takes to always wear a unique fashionable outfit in every photo? I’m not saying that the cure is to find the flaws in people, but it’s important to know in the back of our minds that no one’s life is as perfect as their photos.
I need to point out something funny about our comparisons though: our comparisons are inaccurate. We are comparing our current day to someone’s split-second pose of life, and then we tend to compare our life as a whole to that image… isn’t that kind of twisted? Our one bad day, or even a series of bad days does not need to reflect our life as a whole. When we generalize in that way, I think we make our lives seem depressing. Hence, why social media can get us down!
Gratitude leads to feeling content
I’ve found that it’s easier to be content with our lives when we have daily gratitude. Count your blessings, right? Sometimes you have to talk some sense into yourself and say, “Well I have a cute apartment too, even if it’s not as big as there’s.” or “How do they even keep their house that clean? I feel like my house is fairly clean for what I have time for.” or “Well I’m just glad we got to go on a little getaway earlier this year, even if it wasn’t like so-and-so’s Hawaiian vacation.” Sometimes we don’t realize how lucky we are until we have moments like this.
I’ll talk more about how social media affected my marriage, and ways to overcome it in part 3, so go read that next!