Last weekend I met a friend I only knew on social media. We’ve been friends on Facebook for the past 5 years or so but we’ve never met. She usually passes comments on my status updates. She comes to laugh whenever I’ve posted something that’s funny.
At some points, I posted something on Facebook with her in mind. Because I knew she will definitely come around to ‘Like’, comment or share. She’s such a gorgeous customer of my posts.
When we met, she offered to buy us some drinks so we could have sometime to talk about nothing. We had a seat and I watched her made her orders. Then she said; “your nose looks bigger than it appears in pictures”. Then I replied; “Really, that means my photoshop skills is on point”. We both laughed over it and resumed our chit chat.
Then she said something that left a huge impression on me. She said; “photoshop and filters are the reason I’ve lost faith in social media. At first people were true when answering Facebook’s question; “What’s on your mind”? But today, they see same question and tries to filter what’s on their mind to make it more glamorous.”
She had a point. I believed her not because I’m guilty. I believed her because it’s evidently clear on my timeline. People are trying to belong. Many people are trying so hard to be seen as who they are actually not. So they seek refuge in apps that make them beautiful and surrender their personalities to these apps.
I’ve been on Facebook since November, 2008. I’ve never seen a sad picture. On weekends, my timeline is nothing but bubbly. Everyone is somewhere beautiful and enjoying life. People are eating gourmet meals I can only afford if I sell my soul. Everyone’s pet is beautiful and can do a trick or two. Sometimes I look at these and I start counting everything that is wrong with my life.
Why can’t I be like them?
You are asking the wrong question. If you measure your happiness base on what you see on social media, then your life will feel wrong. You can’t be like them because theirs is carefully staged life. Let’s take a trip behind the scene of the things you see on social media.
“The Perfect Picture”
You see a picture on your timeline and you’re immediately drawn to it. The picture is receiving all the adoration stamps(Likes, Love, Wow etc.) that it deserves. For a week or so, that picture will be trending on your timeline because friends keep stamping their adorations on it. That is the perfect picture.
What you didn’t know is that, that photo didn’t happen in just a shot. The person actually took twenty or more photos before the perfect one, the one that was finally posted came along. It didn’t end there. It has to go through series of editing apps to be finally considered worthy to be presented to you.
That photo isn’t real as you assume. It’s a distortion of reality. It’s a make believe just to let you know how “beautiful” their lives are. They sold you a lie. The sad thing happens when you fall for it and begin to dream to be like them.
That’s when you feel not beautiful enough. That’s when you begin to believe your life isn’t as glamorous as you would have loved it to be. You begin to compare who you are with the edited lives of others. Eventually, you’ll become the loser.
“The Sumptuous Meal”
When I met my friend that day, she ordered pizza for our table. When the food arrived in its hotness and glory, I picked up my phone and took a picture of it. when the ice creams and other delicacies also came along, our table looked like a feast fit for royalties. I couldn’t stand the urge for photos so we asked the waiter to take a photo of us.
He did very well with the shots. I wasn’t surprised though. He takes a lot of pictures like these everyday. I’m beginning to think “being able to take good photos of guests” should be added to the qualifications of waiters. They do that job a lot these days.
I posted the photos on Instagram. Suddenly everyone believed I was having a good life. All comments pointed to the fact that my life is something somebody should envy. But this is food somebody bought for me. This is food I haven’t ate again since that day. This food had a story that no one knew, yet I was having a good life because I have posted a picture of a nice meal.
What I’ve been eating before that day or afterwards had never been posted but friends believe my life is made up of waking up everyday and eating good meals. If you judge your life by what you always see on your timeline, You would be the loser.
“The Perfect Lifestyle”
People show happy lifestyles on social media. Their lives seem to be in constant drip of sugar and honey but trust me, their lives ain’t always happy like they will have you to believe. Just like you, they also hit sad times.
They have their battles just like you also have your battle. Pictures are just snapshots of some days of our lives. It doesn’t represent who we are or what we’ve always done. it’s a highlight reel of times we like people to see.
There is an account of a friend who always travel from one country to another. Every spot her feet touch, she post a photo of it with very fancy captions. It’s easy to fall for her lifestyle if you are the sort who wants to travel all over the world. But it’s not all fancy and glamour. She once told me how she was robbed of her phone and other properties at a gun point in Paris. She said; “I thought they were going to kill me”.
That scene didn’t appear in her beautiful panoramas. No, she didn’t tell us how she virtually pee in her pant that moment when she was within a kissing range of a gun. All is perfect with her huh?
This is the age of Social media. Our online accounts have become an extension of ourselves. We live to tell others what is happening in our little lives. It’s very beautiful waking up to be updated on things happening whiles you were asleep. These are the icing social media adds to the cake of our lives. And it’s beautiful.
Then again, we should not allow what we see or read on social media gets into our heads so much so that it makes us unhappy. That perfect picture you see, that perfect food that got you salivating, that perfect lifestyle being portrayed on your timeline are mostly edited versions of people’s realities. They look real but it’s a distortion of what reality is. And behind all that glamour are people who might have struggles larger than ours.
Don’t fall for the apps-life. Be you.