Social media is a battlefield for our self esteem. No matter our age, we can't help but feel the pressure to at least appear "better" than what we are. So how (if we are all aware of what's going on here) can this instant lifestyle still have such a negative affect on us?
I received a message the other day from a dear friend. My friend’s message was innocent and caring and all she asked was if am I okay. But it was an albeit small comment in this said message that got me thinking. She said “you look a lot happier.”
I’ve always thought that sharing is caring. That you could help someone by being open and honest about your problems. I work hard to be that kind of person; willing to bleed in order to help another person heal. But I’ve also always thought that some things should simply remain offline. And so when I post a photo on Instagram for instance, I think long and hard about what it is I am showing, what it is I am saying, about myself.
Whether we are influenced by the online world of perfectionism or whether we simply prefer to keep some things to ourselves, we only show our best side. We crop photos. We edit the brightness or up the contrast. We post the Flash Back Friday’s of girls nights out and the Throw Back Thursday’s of holidays gone by from under our tear stained covers which we haven’t left to do anything more than grab the chocolate and tissue box.
We go out for coffee with friends and make sure there’s a nice wall near by in front of which we’ll pose in unnaturally casual ways to show off our OOTD. We’ll rearrange the table setting to capture our lunch. We’ll untie our ‘messy’ (hasn’t been washed in a week) bun, only to redo it up again because we can’t decide what looks better in our gym selfie.
It’s an art, showing our best sides.
I know the negative effect that social media platforms and their contents can cause – it can be a battlefield – but that’s not what I’m writing about here. I guess I’ve just been caught off guard by my friends comment. Caught by how right she is to think that I must to being doing pretty good now because the photos I’ve been posting are bright and uplifting. It’s shown me that I am as bad as anyone else. But it has also shown me how easily we accept what we see. I don’t believe myself to be heavily influenced and I don’t feel negatively affected by the instantly gratifying nature of sharing images on social media platforms but I have fallen into the trap of it all the same. I only show people what I want them to see. The side I choose to show. And just as my friend has looked at my photos and thought one thing, we can think other things about our friends based on the photos they post.
But there’s the other sides, the unseen, unfiltered, unedited sides. The side of me that is currently sitting at home alone with a pounding headache, waiting around for any news of her younger sister still in hospital.
The side of me that doesn’t leave the house most days for anything other than walking the dog. Or the side of me that posted all those smiley college photos not to long ago- because she felt like that was the stuff she should be sharing – but went home and cried herself to sleep every night.
What’s my point you ask?
Please don’t feel that I’m attacking your way of thinking. I do it all too, I’m as caught up in the need to look ‘good’ too. Just…Please remember that what you see on Social media is not the whole truth. Please also remember that we are all human and we all have our problems. The beautiful Instagram models, the famous actors and their talented musician friends, that girl with all those followers, that guy who makes those funny videos…your friends and your family members, their photos may look perfect but they are not. Those photos are edited, cropped, brightened, planned, chosen. They are as broken as you and I. Just trying to paint a brighter version of themselves.
So be fair. Be kind. To others and to yourself.