Guys. We need to talk. There’s something I need to tell you, so sit down, get comfy, and grab yourself a cup of camomile tea. I’m kidding about the camomile and please don’t ever serve that to me if I visit you. I mean EW.
As I was saying, there’s something I need to tell you. Brace yourselves because I don’t know how else to tell you this but, Social Media Isn’t Real Life. There. I said it.
Wait, what? You’re not surprised?
You knew that already?
So you’ve never looked at someone’s Facebook page and thought, ‘Wow their life is pretty awesome, I wish my life was more like that’ or ‘That couple look SO happy together, what’s their secret?’ or ‘I wish my hair/skin/body looked more like her’s’.
Don’t lie to me now. We’ve all done it.
I use social media ALL.THE.TIME. From first thing in the morning to last thing at night. It’s my job. So I am faced with these ‘perfect looking’ stories and images of others day in, day out. I also spend a bunch of time here writing blog posts, and editing photos to put up on my Instagram page. And what I’ve noticed over time is that I’ll get comments sent to me about my own posts and photos, with people saying to me ‘You look SO happy’, ‘You’re really living life to the full’, ‘I’m living vicariously through you’.
I read these comments and I can see from the photo or blog post these people are referring to that yes I DO look happy, because I’m showing off the biggest grin, or that my photo DOES look like my life is exciting. But I’m sat here thinking ‘Uhoh! I hope they don’t buy into my careful editing of my photos, my smiling face, or my ‘fun’ looking photo and decide that my life is better/more exciting/more fun than their own’.
But the reality is, people do. They look at the online version of others and see someones ‘perfect life’ staring back at them, and they start to wonder why their own life doesn’t look as shiny and sparkly. All of this really hits a nerve with me. But only because I see others feeling inferior about their existence as they can’t keep up with the virtual Joneses, and I really wish people wouldn’t do that.
Maybe it’s because I know some of these people who portray a perfect existence online, that I don’t feel jealousy/envy/upset towards them. I see their Instagram account showing a version of themselves that makes them appear to be the funniest, most care-free person, hanging out with the coolest of friends, whilst living what looks like the most exciting of lives, and all of this being done whilst wearing the best of outfits, with not one worry line on their face.
But let me break it down for you. What you see is not the whole truth. It’s all a filtered version of life. Those people with the perfect looking lives? They have bad days. They are quite possibly struggling with something in their lives, but you’d never know it from their photos and their statuses.
I know this because I do this too. Take this photo for example:
I think it’s fair to say this photo shows me looking pretty damn happy and carefree no? I think it’s also fair to say that someone might look at this photo and decide that I don’t appear to have a care in the world.
It’s not wrong if that’s the conclusion someone arrives at over this photo, because I’m certainly portraying my best self, a carefully edited version of my life. But let me tell you something, and I use this photo as a perfect example of why you should never look at someone’s online persona and decide their life is better than yours, just because their smile is large, and they look like they’re living in a more exciting way than yourself.
When I took this photo, I was 24 hours away from one of the worst chest infections I’d ever encountered. A chest infection brought on from suffering the worst anxiety I’d had in about 16 years. Life had brought me to my knees, and I was struggling pretty bad. I tell you this not because I want messages saying ‘Are you okay?’, ‘How can I help?’, because thanks for your concern, but I have friends and family that are there for that stuff. I tell you this, because there is nothing about that photo that shows how bad I was feeling, or that I suffer from anxiety. That photo right there, is proof that Social Media Isn’t Real Life. That we should never compare our lives to others. Because the reality is, we all have struggles in our lives, we all have moments where we don’t feel good about ourselves. No one’s life is perfect.
These ‘perfect lives’ we see online are going to continue to be in our face. We’ll read on Facebook about the wonderful gift someones husband has just bought them, we’ll see photos of people looking completely flawless, and others will continue to ‘Check in at the British First Class Lounge’.
And you know what I think about all this? The wonderful gift from that perfect sounding husband? Great, but that doesn’t make their relationship perfect, they’ll be struggling in other ways, for sure, they wouldn’t be human if they weren’t. The flawless looking person? I think, hmmm great looking photo, I wonder what filters they’re using to achieve that. You didn’t actually think those streamlined photos popping up on your Insta newsfeed are au naturel did you?! Let me tell you, they’re not. How do I know? Because my iPhone is jam packed with zit removing, skin enhancing, soft lighting app’s to remove as much sin as possible from my photo before uploading it and sending it out to the www to be judged. And those First Class Lounge check-in’s on Facebook. I find those equal amounts hysterical and ridiculous. Is my life any less valid if I check in at the Easy Jet counter and later Instagram a photo of my Pret salad I’ve bought to take onboard, because food isn’t provided with my budget airline ticket? (Actually, don’t answer that). No I’m kidding, it’s a matter of opinion, and I feel zero envy towards those first class lounge lovers. As I said before, it’s equal amounts hysterical and ridiculous, and kinda unnecessary. Unless you’re Kimye, and then I wouldn’t expect anything less!
A friend of mine recently sent me this image, and it’s SO relevant to what I’m banging on about about here:
There is no one on this planet with a perfect life and a perfect existence, despite how it looks to you.
What can we do about this? Well here’s my advice:
Talk. Open up to your friends. My own friends will tell you that I wear my heart on my sleeve in the biggest way. I share my worries, my struggles, my fears, the whole lot with them. And people just don’t do this anymore. Everyone hides their flaws and their worries, for fear of being judged and not showing off their best selves. But because I don’t do this, because I can’t keep my mouth shut and I share my feelings, others seem to feel they can then share their own struggles with me. And this is why I know that Social Media Isn’t Real Life. Those perfect looking people? They’ve shared their struggles with me. There’s nothing perfect about them. And I can look at their Instagram and admire its perfectly edited photos. And I won’t feel envy.
I will continue to upload photos of my best self, with a smile on my face, and making life look fun. I see my Instagram page as my own personal magazine, carefully edited to entertain. And that’s what we all do. But we’re all human. We all struggle. It’s just that using a photo filter can make my life look a whole lot more rosey.
Social Media Isn’t Real Life people.