As printed in the 4/9/15 Edition of the Cincinnati Enquirer
You know the type. The friend who only posts about the fancy parties she goes to. The couples who only post about the exotic vacations they take. The doting mother who only talks about her kids’ amazing accomplishments in school and sports. The successful co-worker who constantly elaborates about his salary increases and career advancements. I could go on, but you get the point. It’s so easy to post the best things about our lives on social media.
If you only post the positives, people will think you’re something. And in many cases, something you aren’t.
Why can’t we be raw about ourselves? Why can’t we post who we really are sometimes? Instead of posting about all the upscale restaurants you eat at, post about the times when you’re sitting around the house with your family in your T-shirt and sweats, eating pizza from the local pizza joint. Or instead of posting about how wonderful and perfect your kids are, post about teaching moments with your children or that you are struggling with your children’s attitudes at school or at home and look to find support from other parents dealing with the same issue.
A recent survey by researchers at the University of Missouri showed that active Facebook users have a higher likelihood of envy and stress, which can lead to depression and sadness. You’re down on yourself and your life because you just don’t stack up to your friends and their lives that are supposedly better than yours. You just can’t seem to keep up with the Joneses.
I am guilty of this myself. I am a very active Facebook user and have been for over seven years now. During that time, I’ve posted over 11,000 pictures and countless status updates and notes. I’ve published albums of family vacations and our many adventures, written about new jobs and promotions and of course the accomplishments of my amazing children. And then I look at my friends and see how much more their lives seem to be “put together” and I start to compare and complain.
Social media is an easy way to hide behind the veil of hurt and disappointments we face in life. When I went through my divorce, I shut down my Facebook page, deleted several hundred “friends” and just kept plugging away at life, as if nothing bad was happening. Even to this day, almost two years later, I still get messages and friend requests from people who didn’t know about that part of my life story. It’s just as easy to hide on social media as it is to showcase all the seemingly newsworthy events of our lives.
But we can’t always bring ourselves to be raw. Why? Because that would mean we aren’t perfect. That would mean that we don’t have it all together. We try to be so much better than others, but in all reality, we’re just the same.
I’m not suggesting we air all our dirty laundry or spill our deepest, darkest secrets. That would be absurd. But we should not be afraid to be honest – honest not just with our friends and family, but even moreso with ourselves. We all have daily struggles and moments of weaknesses. We all fail and have regrets. But that doesn’t make us less of a person. It makes us who we are. We should never be afraid to be who we truly are.