Updated: Oct 6, 2020
Social media was designed to keep us connected. Designed to let us share and enjoy what others are up to. To be seen and be heard. To gather great ideas and build bridges. As a fairly light explorer of social media I have to admit that I don't actually feel any of those things when I'm on social media. Ever. I have a whole host of other feelings, though.
I feel like I wasted 10 minutes scrolling through my feed.
I feel like much of what I see is contrived and over-the-top fake.
I feel like I don't need to see any more pictures of someone else's sick dog.
I feel like I want to hurt somebody every time I see a picture of someone else's dinner plate.
And then I sometimes even feel like crap - when I see someone's perfect closet, perfect kitchen counter, perfect garden, perfect sunset on vacation. I won't blame social media, or the person who posted it. After all, I made the choice to view it and I made the choice to feel like crap about it. And probably for them, it is perfect.
But social media sometimes gets me really thinking about me. About what I look like. What I do. What I enjoy. Who my friends are. It gets me swirling around these quite unhelpful feelings of being "less than" or "not good enough" or "not relevant". I start actually believing that if I could just change - fill in the blank - then I could have what these people on social media have that they are so willing to boast about. If only I were smarter. If only I made different choices about where to live. If only I had the money to do my nails in picture perfect pink every two days - I would be different. Better. Closer to perfect. Like them.
I wonder how many other people are out there feeling that way, too. I wonder if the geniuses behind Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and others had any idea they were creating a whole new experience of self-loathing. A whole generation of people who are doing everything they can to show us who they want us to believe they are, and an equally troubled generation of people who are striving to be anything they are not because of what they see around them. I kinda hate this. It is counter to everything I believe and everything I strive to teach my children.
There is no one like you. Period. And because there is no one like you, comparisons are somewhat irrelevant. You get to be you. They get to be them. And while there are norms of behavior and decorum that we can follow and strive to emulate, there is no reason to spend time trying to be someone else. The only way to be someone else is to have their parents and upbringing instead of your own. And what's so wrong with being you anyway? Does happiness come from spending our time practicing how to be like someone else, or does it come from spending our time enjoying what we do and what we have right before us? I sure do hope it is the latter.
I just stay away from social media. I don't trust myself. It takes a lot of time and effort to practice being happy and comfortable with exactly who you are - I don't need a few swipes of my finger to dismantle that hard work. And it is a constant battle against your own voice, sneaking in to remind you of what is going on over there. But if you listen carefully, and tell it where to go when it starts to bother you with that "but she has" nonsense, then you are on the right side of a worthy battle. I get to be me. You get to be you. We don't ever have to apologize for it. We don't ever have to make our life look like someone else's in order to be happy. We create the happy by remembering what value we have as individuals. And we do that without anyone else's permission.
You have the right to be exactly who you are. No - let's fix that. You have the honor to be exactly who you are. Be you. You are the expert. You can never be wrong when you make choices based on your own feelings, desires, thoughts and values. Be you. Be proud of you. Do the hard work to believe in your own value, your unique personal strengths, and your own version of a perfect closet. Critics, and social media, be damned.