I reside in my head. It is both a safe and terrifying place. I get to hug myself and get lost in possibilities and imagination and but I also get trapped in doubt and loud isolation. Compound that with what has become the social norm called social media and the result, unmanaged, can be toxic.
At our fingertips, is the ability to experience a small percentage of our peers’ lives. We get to see what they’re working on, where they’re booked, the applause they get from other voyeurs, and all of the successes. Hardly any of the moments when they trip and fall. So we want to hurry up and share our great moments, too, even if our endeavors aren’t ripe for picking yet. We get to see the celebration of love, ceremoniously; White gowns and unlimited bubbly, in and out of a glass. All of the joy seems magnified and a passerby deduces that there must be an exorbitant amount of joy in the lives of internet people because that’s what they’re sharing.
Man, I want that, too.
I think that most of us know by now that a lot of what we see is, again, a small percentage of people’s lives. That most of social media is based on highlighting the part of the story that is most interesting, the part that the individual wants to revisit but also wants everyone else to clap for in order to validate their joy and feed their ego. (Nothing is wrong with wanting validation, as long as the need is moderate and isn’t the driving force of your [my] actions).
I’m talented, too.
Even with that realization, the “bright lights” and white smiles can be hypnotizing. And when your own life feels like it’s not going well, the plastered joy in other people can either inspire you or cause misdirected resentment. I have to catch myself constantly. I’ve coveted the lives of people whom I do not know simply because the contrast on their Instagram photo is warm and inviting and the dress fits perfectly over her butt and the caption is eloquent and “Sheesh, she’s got a 1,000 likes” and “Damn, she seems like she’s in love.”
Since the advent of social media, there’s this low buzz of an I-have-a-good-life competition and a strong stench of narcissism, whether we acknowledge it or not. The picture that we see isn’t even on a large canvas or in high resolution but “objects appear larger in mirror”. When people say “it’s JUST social media”, I think that’s what they’re referring to. That it isn’t the “real world”, so the megabytes shouldn’t transfer to our cells. But it’s become such a huge part of our daily lives, especially for those whose livelihood is more or less, dependent upon whether people think that they’re interesting and talented.
Pay attention to me, what I have to say is meaningful… too
Then the result of a small amount of “likes”, which translates superficially to interest, damages your ego and image of yourself. It’s a dangerous game if we let these ideas of reality too deep into our lives. I’ve found myself trying to find solace in the company of memes and comment notifications and really the result of that has been an even deeper loneliness.
I’ve had to remind myself about myself. I’ve had to remind myself about the realities of life outside of this tiny screen of skin blurring and happiness curating. I’ve had to remind myself that the bigger picture isn’t in a picture or status. That my self improvement and success is not measured in “likes” and analytics, but in the healing of past traumas and the deliberate ambition to attain true happiness.