Open your Facebook, or Instagram. Do it now. What do you see?
A lot has been written about how all of us portray only our best selves on social media. We post statuses that show we are happy when we aren’t really feeling that happy. We put up our best pictures, that have been filtered and enhanced. We showcase our interests, our achievements, our conquests and package them and time them for maximum likes.
Most of that literature is focused on the negative side of this behaviour. Yes, it’s true that everyone pretends (accentuates is a better word, but pretends drives home the point better) on social media and we only get to see the best sides of the people we follow while the reality is not quite as stellar.
This induces comparisons in our mind between our own vulnerable and complete true selves (which we are well acquainted with) and the enhanced and packaged selves of those we follow (whose reality we aren’t as well acquainted with) and causes feelings of negativity, feeling unworthy, unhappiness.
There have been studies that prove this theory and I’m not debating that. I have been a victim of that myself and have known others who have been victims as well and have gone on to shun social media altogether.
But, as with most stories, I think there is a positive side to this as well. After all, pretending in front of others was in existence much before social media came into the world.
We have pretended to be more skilled than we really are. We have pretended to be more interested than we really are. We have pretended to be more caring and concerned than we really are. So much so that we have even coined a term for it. Fake it till you make it.
Kurt Vonnegut has said, “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful who we pretend to be.”
I started writing this blog nearly ten years ago now, and I have posted more blog posts than I’ve posted photos on Instagram. And I have always seen the theme of this blog as ‘advice to myself’. Which means, I write about things as they are as much as I write about things as they should be. And only in the past couple of years have I been growing in confidence to be brutally honest about where I’m doing well and where I’m failing and learning.
And like Kurt Vonnegut’s words claim, this blog has helped shape me as a person as much as many of the people I have interacted with intimately.
Despite the negative consequences of people posting highlights of their lives on social media while keeping the lows private, allowing for a skewed reality to be assumed by their followers, such behaviour helps the people posting feel good about themselves, aspire to be more like the people they are showcasing themselves to be, and eventually get there.
A friend who attended my standup comedy act this past Saturday shared two pictures and said to me, “Life is most of the time the first picture, hence the need for the second.”
Maybe that’s the case with all the people posting on social media as well. Maybe their lives are the first picture most of the time, and the ones they post make them happier as a result. Give them a break.
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