I have a confession. I’m quite partial to dipping into Facebook on a daily basis and catching up with the world, the gossip and sharing in the lives of others. Social media has slipped into my daily routine in a way that I could never have imagined happening. If I look back at my school days, it was all about school yard gossip and no one ever announced that they’d enjoyed a catch up with a friend, handed around photos of their breakfast, lunch or tea/dinner/supper, whatever you choose to call it. We went where we said we were going or hoped we wouldn’t get caught out if we didn’t and you did your best to be back at the pre-arranged time. There was no texting, messaging or ‘checking-in’.
I’ve worked with a number of clients over the years who are struggling with anxiety. It’s well documented that part of the cause of these anxious feelings can come from a variety of issues raised by social media. We look on in awe at the amazing lives of our Facebook friends. I’m as guilty as the next person for sharing the positives about my life; ‘so proud of my children …, had an amazing holiday in …, fabulous to catch up with …’. The thing is, I don’t live my life from day to day having an amazing time with my amazing family, spending much of my time travelling for my amazing holidays and the rest of the time having lunch with my fabulous friends.
Don’t get me wrong, I am very proud of my children but they are just like everyone else’s children; they’re not perfect. They make me proud one minute then drive me crackers the next. We do have lovely holidays but they wouldn’t suit everyone and they’re no more extraordinary than anyone else’s. I do enjoy lunch with my lovely friends but the only reason that I post about it is that it happens so rarely. I don’t share the mundane of my life because it’s just that; mundane.
When we look through the window of other people’s lives, whether they’re changing the world or complaining about it, it is just that – a view through the window. Just like when we look through any window, we get a limited perspective of the whole picture. When we look in, we see through a screen into one room. When we look out, we see a view frequently obscured by people, trees and cars. The point is, we don’t ever see the full story.
The next time you dip into social media, whatever form you prefer, then just say to yourself, they’re only sharing what they want me to see. That level of sharing varies from person to person but essentially, you are only ever given the information that they want you to know, show the person that they want you to see, be perceived how they want to be perceived. And that’s absolutely fine. We can do that. The important thing is that we don’t fill the gaps in others’ lives by assuming that the unshared life away from social media is exactly the same as the bits they share with you.
Your life away from social media is no better or worse than the lives or others. If you feel that you’re missing out, then question the reality of what is portrayed and what isn’t.