As if the approval of others is justification enough to determine that we are happy, and doing well.
Your life is not your social media representation of it, nor is mine, nor is that of anyone else. I’d like to say that we’re not fooling anyone, but in all reality this is precisely what we are doing. You’ve got the world convinced that your life is some kind of fairy tale of cupcakes and butterflies, and what’s worse, most of us have ourselves convinced as well.
I hope that as you continue to read this you can understand that I myself am guilty of this plague, and do not in any way hold myself above it. I simply find myself sitting here and asking this very question, why?
As I scroll back through my feed on Facebook and Instagram I honestly find myself rather disgusted. Sure the moments have been getting more and more beautiful through the years, and as the quirky wisdom behind my captions intensifies I have procured more and more “likes”. So, to the outside world my life probably looks over the top beautiful and simple, and I think this is why people often tell me things like “you’re living the dream!” or “what a cool life, you’re so lucky!”. And ya sure, I am living my dream, but this shit is not all fucking cupcakes and butterflies.
What about the other 86,399 seconds in the day? What about the rest of my life that surrounds this ‘epic’ photo of a sunset in some distant land? How about all the buses I missed on my way here, turning a 5 hour trip into a 3 day journey. What about the fact that not less than 2 hours ago I hadn’t eaten for over 24 hours? What about that one time the airlines lost my bag in transit, leaving me without literally everything I own for almost a week?
You don’t see all these things, because I don’t show them to you. You don’t see my bank account flounder in the never-ending pursuit of what excites me. You don’t see this disgusting cot that I’m to sleep in for the night. You don’t see the heartbreak, the questioning, the struggle… the truth behind my life.
The thing is, I happen to know for a fact that we all live through some kind of struggle. We all have hardships, and we all do what we can to overcome them. But I don’t know about any of your hardships, I don’t know about your struggle, I don’t know what you’ve done to overcome it all. And as a result, I don’t actually know a single fucking thing about you. You see, we all think we’re showing the world who we are through our social media, but the truth of it is, we’re only showing the world who our ego wants us to be seen as.
This, is not reality.
I understand why we don’t post about the “bad” things. No one ever thinks, “Wow this moment absolutely sucks, where’s my phone I need to take a picture!”. We just want to get through our hard times, and then forget about them, and move on. We don’t need any documentation. Plus, there’s definitely not going to be some kind of burning desire to share this stuff, no one wants to see that shit.
I get it, but when all you see of the world is some overly exaggerated beautiful and joyous all-encompassing glory, a problem manifests. This creates a very distorted sense of reality. And what we’re left with is a society of people searching for artificial happiness. As if the approval of others is justification enough to determine that we are happy, and doing well. We all constantly create, and re-create, these nonexistent moments just so we have a picture to post. Just so that we can get some thumbs up action. And when life’s real moments do occur, they seem always to be followed with a “man I wish I had my phone to film that…”
We’ve created this arena, and this game to play within it, where everyone loses. Even when you think you are winning, even when everyone else thinks you are winning. My friend, when it comes to social media… we are all losing.
My friend, when it comes to social media… we are all losing.
You get online after your hard days work and just see this laundry list of people who have it so much easier than you. All these people out living what you can only dream of. Look at how happy they are, on vacation for the 4th time this year? Always adventuring, where do they get so much time? Shit, what are they doing differently… what am I doing wrong? And now we’re stuck beating ourselves up, comparing our lives to these, essentially nonexistent, ones we see online.
Then we find ourselves determined, inspired perhaps; we are going to go out and achieve something similar! And when we do, by god, we are definitely going to document and share it. Making sure that everyone knows, I can play this game too, and look at how good of a job I do at it. Finally feeling like we are also winning…
As much as I’m glad that you’ve encountered such a magnificent sunset, and have chosen to share this beautiful moment with the rest of the world… how much of your time on that beach did you actually spend watching the sun set? I see it time and time again, and 30 or 40 of the exact same pictures later, the moment is gone. But you got the post, mission accomplished! Some well thought out caption about how amazing life is, a couple seriously significant hash tags, and it’s sure to get a couple hundred likes.
You see, here, everybody is losing. You felt like you were losing before, sitting there scrolling, watching everyone else “win”, and now you’ve entered the arena determined to likewise “win”. Perhaps, in this game of social media you have won. But how long will it be before you are back in that same losing seat? How many people did your post just put in that seat?
Let me ask you this, what about this other game, this other game called LIFE?
Because, sorry to say, when it comes to this game most of us are far beyond losing. In fact, most of us are not even really playing. While you were busy making sure to win at social media, life happened, and now it’s gone… literally forever. It’s like we’re all stuck on this ever turning wheel, tunnel visioned into keeping it moving. We must maintain the approval rate, at all costs!
Unfortunately, what this has cost us, is our humanity. We have become these monotonous robots, zombies plugged in to the internet, both constantly feeding it and feeding off of it. We are no longer in tune with our natural surroundings, we have lost touch with reality. We have lost a connection to the very essence of life itself. We have lost our presence.
Trust me when I tell you, there is a significantly larger amount of happiness in putting down the camera and just sitting there, enjoying the moment for its true essence, with no intention of sharing its beauty with anyone other than yourself, than you will ever find in receiving a thousand ‘likes’. Why should we care if the rest of the world approves of our existence anyways?
I say, let’s try living our lives simply for the fact that we have one to live! Go out and adventure, explore, and challenge your mind, body, and spirit. But when you do, give this a try, leave your phone and your cameras, at home.