Carefully selected photos taken at just the right angle, meticulously cropped, edited and filtered which display a seemingly perfect life, accompanied with an ambiguous caption that triggers curiosity.
But they’re stills. Stills that supposedly capture happy, jubilant emotions. Manufactured emotions.
Many of us struggle with insecurity when we compare our supposed flaws with others. For some, it’s appearance. Why our hair isn’t as shiny or long or frizz-free. Why we’re not as muscular or tall. Why our body isn’t as thin, or fit, or curvy as that one person we shadow on social media platforms. For others, it’s when we don’t possess a certain skill or haven’t achieved a particular accomplishment that makes us feel as though we are not good enough. Why we aren’t happily married with kids by a certain age or why we don’t have the dream job that others have. For everyone, they’re small, minute elements that create a deep, hurtful insecurity. All of which cause us grief and disdain.
“Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle” ~Jon Acuff
For many, though, it’s when we compare our experiences directly with others through their online presence. For example, comparing our uneventful Friday night in with their crazy Friday night out. With Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms being heavily used to showcase the highlights of people’s lives, it becomes much easier to compare our actual, day-to-day life with only their highlights.
“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” ~Steve Furtick
Every single day of our lives cannot be a smooth ride. It’s a roller coaster with ups and downs and curves. Every single person experiences bumps along the way. That includes friends, strangers, celebrities and that one person we actively follow on social media.
I was scrolling through my own Facebook timeline and found the following:
- Several professional shots from an event I attended
- Pictures from a volleyball tournament I participated in
- Throwback picture from when I traveled to India in 2014
- Captures of sites and monuments I visited in various states
These past few weeks, my timeline portrayed a life full of absolute highs and amusement. Key word: portrayed.
These past few weeks, I also went through the following:
- Problems on my work trip that made me miss out on places I wanted to visit
- Lack of interaction with friends
- Personal issues
The same time I was posting about my Washington D.C. work trip was the same time I was going through an emotional mess. But my timeline illustrated a contrasting reality. It displayed smiling selfies with the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument and photographs of various historical sites and museum visits because why would I want to publicly post about my personal complications?
Why would anyone? Of course people are going to paint their life picture in a positive light. Of course people are going to share their reel of elated highlights or at least portray the experiences that way. We all do it yet we find ourselves, day by day, scrolling through others’ feed feeling envious and being self-critical.
The truth is it is illogical. It is illogical to compare two different realities. One that contains peak moments and low moments to one that displays only the peak moments. It is illogical to bring ourselves down when we are comparing the raw truth with a fabricated one. We all avoid posting about our low points on social media and only capture our peaks and with that should come the understanding that others do the same. But that’s what social media does; it allows us an easy way to be less logical and more emotional and to get caught up in those moments of envy and resentment. That’s why it is important to remember the next time we are on social media and feeling envious that the posts we see are just a reel of highlights. Nothing more.
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