What has reality shows have to do with reality? It is beyond unreality; there is nothing real about it. ~ M. Safer
Last month we talked about the social media and our capacity to turn if off it is not meeting our needs. Before The Holiday Season starts in full swing I wanted to take one more, brief, look at an aspect that is finally getting some attention ~ the unreality of some of what we see posted and our tendency to compare ourselves to what we believe others have going on with their lives that are so great/perfect/without hassle. If we watch what has become known as reality TV most of us know this is a highly scripted, produced show; there is very little reality involved. But what happens when we see a friend or family member post something on Instagram or Facebook?
Six out of ten adults get at least some portion of their daily news from social media according to the Pew Research Center. And that’s news we’re talking about, not the cute videos folks post of the kids doing fun things! How many people go to social media to see their kids or grandkids singing in the school concert? I couldn’t find numbers but I can tell you it can sometimes dominate the conversation when folks gather so it can’t be a small number. You see it all the time with one person holding out their phone to show the video or pull up Facebook to show what most recently got posted.
We are all susceptible to fits of jealousy and to comparison – it is just plain old human nature. That being said, we don’t have to get caught up in it. But can I ask you something? Do you seriously believe all those great things are the full picture of what’s going on for someone? I sincerely doubt we’re getting the full story.
Before you get too far into comparing yourself or your life with what you see in other people’s news feeds or their Instagram pictures let’s take a step back. What you’re seeing is what folks want to post, not necessarily the gritty, stinky side of things. We see their lives through a very small screen of information. If their lives are even close to yours or mine there is much more to see and far more mess.
Let’s also remember that, in general, people use social media to get the word out about fun stuff ~ what they’re eating (have you seen all the photos of dinners?!), the great workout they had, the fancy new toy they purchased. I have rarely seen people consistently post pictures of the laundry piling up, the tired eyes with the caption reading, “long night up worried about my kid who overdosed again last night” or the screen shot of their bank balance in the red. We tend to keep that reality away from social media.
There is also the huge group of people who post or repost everything they can find on a particular topic, “Save the newts!” or a political topic. Interesting stuff. Sometimes. Again, as tempting as it is to believe, the posts and reposts don’t necessarily indicate that this person can discuss the topic in person or even wishes to do so. I can’t urge you enough to pass by the pieces that don’t speak to you or in some way genuinely interest you.
For sure social media has a place. I want you to seize this tool for all that it’s worth! What I don’t want to see happen however is for you to get swept up in a wave of fantasy.
Wishing you all the best for your reality based, completely great and messy week!