Social Media shares the story where food is glorious, holidays are extraordinary and people are happy: to this, I’ve borrowed the phrase “the highlight reel” The fact of the matter is this: the social media frenzy often draws us into the wonderful life that we believed to be what we conjured up in our minds as teens and young adults. Perfect mate, nice car with a garage to preserve it (I’m still waiting on that garage), kids that are star athletes, performers and respectful, a spectacular home that is out of the pages of magazines and friends and family that are beautiful, thoughtful and caring. And yes, it is possible. But not probable.
If this is shocking to you, I would love to chat. While I will admit to being a social media devourer, my recent hiatus from daily posting has me looking critically (can you tell?) at the effects of “the post”. Evident from my European vacation photos and the response I had from folks commenting on-line and in person of what a wonderful, stunning, remarkable trip I had. It was interesting to me that while I mentioned “the travels of frustration” in one of my posts, that comment was not noticed so much. Likely I was shy in detailing how the melt downs, mishaps and emotional roller coasters of travelling in close quarters with 3 people can wear on you. And without a doubt, “closer connections” were a result, but that payoff didn’t come without a few jarring emotional states.
I once posted a comment with a photo of flowers sent to me, with an unsigned card that read something like “I know you are going through some rough times, I’m here for you.” I posted to say thanks and in hopes that my anonymous friend would let me know who I should be contacting when I needed them. (My dear friend did call me that day to reveal she’d forgotten to sign). The amount of comments and phone calls I got on that downer post was notable. Everything from deep concern to “You really shouldn’t post stuff like that.” Really? I must have missed the memo on “There shall be no sign of struggle on social media.” And while I was lifted by the overwhelming outpour of support, I never thought that post would start the rumour mill that it did.
So is it any surprise when on my many walks and talks with people that the subject of Facebook posts comes up, inevitably comparing lives? Lives that otherwise are full enough, but not quite to the standards of the highlight reel of others. Or that statistics show that people check social media at least 28 times a day, making a majority of users anxious or depressed? Don’t even get me started about how teens see themselves as less than human when the “likes” and “hearts” just don’t add up. Or when I witnessed the effects of 90 people “unfriending” a young teen- “devastating” is an understatement.
There is a population now known as the “social and digital native” those who have never known the world without an internet or a social web. It’s a bit scary to me, even though I embrace the social world to the best of my ability. I am hopeful for the day when teens make “face to face” communication a fad again, because I don’t believe anything but that kind of ground swell will make it happen. So I’ve been curious lately….
- Do you post to boast? Show your gratitude in good fortune.
- Do you mainly post accomplishments or exclusive access? Explain the road to get there, why you might deserve it.
- Who really cares? Maybe a private message is in order.
- Is it OK to lay your heart, soul and mental state on the line? Maybe. Come back to the intention.
- Is it all about you? Share the wealth. Talk up your friends’ when you know it makes a difference.
- Do you overshare? Especially on the hard topics, consider the reasons why you are sharing and perhaps talk to someone about it first.
As we enter the “sub new year” in September, I will continue to partially see the world through this means of communication – no doubt. It’s not going away and I’d rather be on the train that allows me to be in touch with people that I can’t be physically be near or around the “friends” I choose. I am happy to say that I am better at filtering the “perfect” with the “not so perfect”. And while food IS glorious, vacations ARE beautiful and family IS the most important thing, I know that behind the smiles, the preparation, the relationships and the highlight reel, there is an eclipse of hard work, complexity and sometimes the ugly.