Look at this photo. I look happy, don’t I? The truth is, I was in the midst of a season of extreme anxiety. At some moments I couldn’t control it. I was seeing a counselor at my university, but that ended when I left for my summer internship. I was experiencing extreme change in my life and wasn’t dealing with it well on my own, but you wouldn’t know that by the photo that was posted on social media.
As a millennial, I have grown up with social media my entire life. By the time I was in third grade most of my tests were on the computer along with all of the state’s standardized tests. The day I walked into sixth grade, all of my friends had MySpace (honestly I don’t even know if I spelled that right because I never really knew what I was doing, but I had one!) and told me I had to get one. A year later, I had to get a Facebook, a few years later, an Instagram and Twitter, and around the same time, a Snapchat and Vine. Then came Yikyak and others that I’ve already forgotten about, but a few remain part of my life even now.
Today we are in a time unlike ever before; everyone has access to a pretty good camera and editing software just in their pocket. We can share what we are doing with everyone in the world in seconds. Just like anything else, there is a craving for popularity in the social media realm.
This is the mindset I think so many young people fall into and it’s killing us because it’s so wrong. In the last few years I’ve seen post after post and speech after speech on how “peoples lives aren’t as perfect as they make them seem on social media” and “you can’t compare your life to someone else’s life on social media.” I think by now we all know, at least deep down, that no ones life is perfect, even if it looks like it on social media. Somehow though, we remain obsessed with getting likes. I know people who delete photos from their Instagram if it doesn’t get a certain number of likes in the first hour— “it must not be a good photo” or “I’ll post it again at a better time.”
Seriously guys, we’re better than this. We have to stop finding our value and worth in the number of likes we get. We have to stop pretending our life is something that it isn’t.
What if I told you, you’re hurting yourself by projecting this “perfect life”?
Here’s the problem: We’ve passed the days where it’s revolutionary to speak up about comparing ourselves to others, but we haven’t moved to the other issue.
Everyone is talking about how we shouldn’t compare ourselves to the “perfect accounts,” but no ones talking about how it’s affecting the person who has the “perfect account.”
I’ve learned this the hard way. I LOVE photography and have always enjoyed sharing my life through photos, but over the past year, I’ve gotten a few messages from people saying “you seem like you have it all together.” Or I will mention to a friend about how hard life is for me right now (I love my life, but that doesn’t mean it’s without struggle!) and they just say “I had no idea, it seemed like everything was going okay on Facebook.”
This couldn’t be farther from the truth. We know our friends’ lives aren’t perfect even when they don’t tell us. Let me tell you if no one else has— cool photos does not equal a perfect life. We all know that life is messy and no matter how bad we want it to be perfect, it’s not.
This is not meant as a criticism of my friends because I love you all to death, but as a generation, we all (myself included x294738286) need to be better friends. We need to ask the hard questions and refuse to partake in the superficial “how are you? good, and you?”
It’s true that I don’t often post the bad parts of my life on social media, but you can’t blame me for that. I don’t mind seeing other people’s posts about their struggles, but that’s not me. We shouldn’t have to proclaim to the world that we are struggling for someone to check on us.
We have to stop letting social media be a mediator in our relationships.
I would hope that no one out there is comparing their life to the one you see on my social media, but if ever have or ever find yourself doing that, let me tell you I am hurting, broken, and going through something just like you.
Acting like everything is perfect is depriving us of deep and vulnerable relationships, making us susceptible to so many attacks of the mind. We are weak when we are isolated and the darkest corners of our minds know it and capitalize on it. I’m not telling you to post your deepest, darkest secrets on your Facebook, but I am suggesting that you make sure the people around you that you trust know that’s not your life.
I urge you to check in on your friends frequently. Ask them the hard questions. Refuse to have a superficial relationship with anyone. Refuse to believe that anyone’s life is perfect and they don’t need a friend. Refuse to believe that you can make it in this life alone. Refuse to believe that you are strong enough to deal with your problems alone. You need genuine and deep relationships. You need to be asked the hard questions. WE need to be VULNERABLE with each other.
To anyone who’s broken or struggling and hasn’t been reached out to, please know you are not alone. Please know that your value is not determined by the number of likes on your posts. Please know that you need someone and someone needs you. Please know that I need you.
We’re supposed to be more connected with each other than ever, but time after time I find myself reconnecting with old friends via FB message and not realizing it’s actually been YEARS since I spoke to them directly.
Social media tricks us into thinking we have relationships with people because we continually see their life, but in reality— we are actually not a part of it.
We have to stop allowing ourselves to fall into this trap. We need to have genuine and deep relationships. We need our “friends” to know the good, the bad, and the ugly that’s going on in our hearts and minds so they can reach out and help up get through.
We can’t forget the reason we don’t compare ourselves is because that person is dealing with things just like we are. They need someone. I need someone. You need someone. We all need someone to check on us, to see what’s actually happening in our REAL life.