When sifting through social media, I can’t help but sometimes feel left out because I’m not on that beautiful summer outing, unwinding at a waterfront cafe, or that I don’t have certain successes in my field since I see others acquire publishing deals or idyllic jobs. Sometimes, it doesn’t exactly feel great when I see pictures of wonderful vacations and mouth-watering food and documented adventures.
And of course, I know that I’m not alone.
I know many who drop out of the social media scene entirely to “cleanse.” I know many who lament various people who showcase their lives on a pedestal, where everything is on cloud nine. And we are all guilty of this allure to some extent. I’m not even suggesting that there is something inherently wrong with catering to your online audience in a “happy-go-lucky” demeanor either; it just demonstrates a very specific narrative that can easily affect others in a less-than-positive fashion.
Although such posts and photographs can surely be authentic, lives are being viewed through rose-colored glasses. We see the lovely vistas; we see the incredible homemade meals and the desirable dinners out; we glimpse into others’ getaways at Disney World and Aruba and Fire Island. But what we don’t see are the human moments. The sad, anxious, and stressful moments. The bad days that sometimes manifest because we are only human. But regardless of our humanity, what’s generated through social media are filtered sentiments and pictures.
I once found solace in a particular person’s Instagram account due to the sole fact that she posted pictures that did not always depict sunshine and rainbows and clear skies. She did open up candidly from time to time, and it was refreshing and much appreciated, at least by me. However, in recent Instagram posts, all I see are the glamorous shots — the amazing cocktails, the picturesque landscapes, the exotic travels abroad. And this is not to conclude that she’s not enjoying her experiences, but where is the jet lag? Where is the other depth? The other side of the coin?
Sometimes, I wonder why there’s an abundance of these posts, why social media is saturated with content of this nature. Because you see, metaphorically speaking, we all become jet-lagged from time to time, and yet, there is no trace of such a thought. Maybe they think their audience doesn’t want to see anything with a negative spin. Maybe they don’t want to acknowledge it themselves. And that’s okay, everyone is entitled to their own online decorum.
I’m not implying that I personally have all the answers, nor am I implying that I never post a picture of something I take pride in. (When I went to Maine last summer, I reveled in its beauty and created a whole photo album for heavens-sakes.) But on the other hand, I try to keep things a bit more “real” in the mix, too. I might post about how the heat wave is miserable; I may make a comment about not feeling well; I’m not looking to go overboard and air out super personal details, but I am mindful of coming across as a human being who has highs and lows like everyone else.
It would be interesting to see social media platforms without rose-colored glasses, without a constant state of untainted bliss, because quite frankly, that’s just not realistic. That’s just not what life is 100 percent of the time.
It’s possible that the psychology behind it all does speak to the fact that others don’t want to disclose what may be unappealing. It’s possible that others like to relish in the positive hype of the lives they follow — that does make sense. But I know there’s people like me; people who wouldn’t mind viewing content that resonates with who we are, too. The good, the bad, and the in-between.