Social media is a highlight reel; it’s not the full picture. That is true, and I understand the importance of talking about this because social media has/is negatively impacting people. From comparisons in looks and fitness, to vacations and careers, it feeds insecurity. People doubt themselves assuming they are not enough — not pretty enough, not fit enough, not working hard enough. Young people in particular tend to create very high expectations based on the desire to have a ‘social media-esque’ life. The stories around this problem often focus on people who take, or want to take, extreme measures to look “prettier” and visually get “in good shape”. These are real life stories and this is a very real problem.
At the same time I want to bring attention to a lesser known issue stemming from the same roots. We have acknowledged that social media is never the full picture, but it’s also important to accept that it’s still a picture. There is a truth to it. This isn’t about celebrities or people with high followings, but the common person. The ones who share bits and pieces of their lives ‘unfiltered’; the ones who share more authentic content; the ones who share relatable posts. The ‘slice of life’ part of social media. This is all positive, however, there may be some people (or it could just be me) that experience this differently.
There is jealousy of course, and I’m sure we have all experienced it at some point. Maybe a cousin just posted vacation pictures from a place you really want to visit, or a friend went to a concert that you missed out on. It could be something more basic, as simple as food pictures or people experiencing better weather. The point is we have all been a little envious of such things, and that’s okay. Personally I think these feelings are normal, to an extent.
What if I experience pain, heartache, grief? Is that normal too?
I feel more unhappiness and distress when I see the ‘average’ person’s content over celebrities. I recognise I can never have what celebrities have, I’m not rich or famous, and to be honest I don’t even want to be. I am least interested in having materialistic possessions. However, there is so much I see from the common person that I wish I had. Sure, it’s good to be different and we won’t always relate to everything, I accept that — yet what I am feeling is awfully uncomfortable.
What is it that I wish I had? Connection. A real friendship. People share pictures with their friend(s) and it doesn’t matter what the friends are doing, it’s the fact friends exist. They spend time together, there is a physical connection. Friends who support each other, post amazing birthday wishes, tag each other under memes and other relatable posts, friends who remember the little details about you. This is what I see on social media, and it’s no highlight reel because this is actually real. It’s beautiful that these genuine friendships exist. However, I feel like I’m being stabbed in the heart when I see this.
My heart aches. I will never have that. And it really, really hurts.