Monday, February 22, 2016

Monday Musings: The Social Media Struggle Is Real

Do you ever envy your friends or family on social media?  Or even complete strangers?  It is so easy to see other people's highlight reel on social media, and believe they have it all together. So and so always go on nice vacations. That girl has such a great job.  This couple's marriage is so good.  She is so thin.  That family is always smiling in their photos.  People only post what they want you to see.

Have you seen this video?  Hilarious.  And true (on both sides) for some!

Social media is CONTROLLED CONTENT.  This means that people can control what you see.  Some people may post that their husband never helps around the house.  Some people may complain about their job.  However, this does not mean that A) social media is an appropriate platform to share this content, and that B) other people who don't share this don't have the same struggles.  They are just choosing not to share that information.  This could be because they don't feel social media is the proper place to share such things.  They may want to keep up a front so everyone believes their lives are perfect.  Who wouldn't rather showcase their biggest accomplishment over their biggest failure?  The truth is, we have no way of knowing what truly goes on behind closed doors.

Everyone has struggles. The vacation family may pay for vacations with credit cards and be buried in debt. The great job may not pay well.  The happy couple may be on the verge of divorce.  Of course, they may all be filthy rich AND happy AND love their job. We don't really know. The only person who knows the truth about the behind the scenes of their social media is themselves. And maybe one or two people who are very close to them.

I'm not suggesting that we should go on social media and blast our husbands, expose our kids' school troubles, or list our debt.  I don't think social media is the place for things like that.  What remains appropriate to share is usually the positive side of life.  Which is great!  We should be celebrating the good stuff that happens to us.  Just don't forget that everyone has that "other stuff" they don't share.

As I tell my curious (read: nosy) five year old: mind your own business!  I only want to be in competition with myself.  I want to improve myself so that I have great things to share with friends and family.  Seeing other people start their own business, get in shape, and take a vacation, should only be a source inspiration for me.  It should not be something that causes envy.  If I am feeling jealous, I need to figure out the reason I am jealous.  Is my marriage unhappy?  Do I wish I had job satisfaction?  Feeding feelings of jealousy will only result in toxicity of my emotional health.  Recognizing the root of my discontent and focusing on fixing that is the best course of action.

For the most part, I am Facebook friends with people I truly wish to see happy.  When they celebrate their successful business, I celebrate with them!  When they have babies, I congratulation them!  When they get a new car, I am excited for them!  If you don't feel this way about your Facebook friends, perhaps it is time to clean up your friend list.  Cultivate a list of friends who you can be happy for, and who will cheer you on in your success.

On Instagram, I follow a different group.  Yes, my friends, but also businesses and people who have similar interests (*ahem* planner addicts).  Since I do not personally know these people,  the connection with them is not the same.  When I see their planner collection, designer wardrobe, lavish vacations, even something as simple as date night, sometimes that green eyed monster makes an appearance.  Then I have to remember two things.  First, this is controlled content.  A professional business is never going to (or shouldn't!) talk about arguing with a spouse on Instagram!  They may share a child's tantrum here and there, because sometimes that can just be a comic relief, as well as provide a way to personally relate with their followers.  Overall, they are there for business, and personal issues are not really appropriate.  But there is a true reality (could be positive, negative, or most likely, a combination of both) behind the IG account that we are not privy to.  Second, these people have worked extremely hard for their businesses.  Don't they deserve all of the reward that comes along with that hard work?  I should view that as an inspiration for myself!  So I double tap my screen, smile, and make a note of which vacation location to add to my bucket list!

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