I wonder how we all survived the years before the Internet.
Early this summer I was at a “pottery event”. I met old friends, fired some Raku, and generally had a good time – even though at that point I was still struggling with my grief over the loss of my father in April. And also to note, despite that loss, I still posted to the “My Daily Dose” project – meant to share how I get through the tough times by exercising, being creative, communing with nature and so on. Please note – I’m sharing the tool to feel better, not the challenging state I’m in on any given day.
During the clay day, the wife of one of the potters came to say hi. I asked her how she was and she responded she was somewhat depressed. She was having trouble figuring out her next path in life, felt stalled and unsatisfied. I listened, offered support, gave her a hug. And then she asked how I was doing – to which I replied “Meh. I’ve been better. This grief is hard” and so on, to which she replied: “What????? Your posts make you seem so happy!!!! You have the perfect life!!! NO!!!! You can’t be sad!!!!!” Needless to say I was a little taken aback. She was so emphatic about it. It was almost as though by telling her how I was doing I had really let her down.
It makes me wonder about how we all “use” social media. What is it that we “see”? How are we impacted by our interpretation of others’ lives? What is the consequence of comparing ourselves to others?
I have clients who tell me they look at their friends’ social media lives and struggle to feel as happy as they perceive their friends to be. Some of us look at others’ feeds and feel our “friends” have it all together, are succeeding in places where we feel we are struggling, or outright failing. It’s a terrible additional layer to those that really judge themselves too harshly as it is.
But what are we really looking at in those photos? The truth is it’s a one-second snap shot, possibly staged, of another person’s life. Who takes pictures of dirty diapers, unwritten novels, bad moods, a messy house… wait, no one!
By the same token I have met many a new mother, who felt so overwhelmed by all the information on the Internet about parenting that they lost sight of what they already knew. It seems we are losing the ability to rely on ourselves, on our own minds, on our own natural intuition, to make our own decisions. We are losing sight of our own capability and resilience.
Next time you look at a social media post and wonder, remember this: EVERYONE has a struggle, EVERYONE goes through challenges, deals with adversity, has questions, moments of insecurity. E V E R Y O N E! Everyone has a bigger story than one, two or twenty pictures. Looking at our friends’ posts, my deepest wish is for us all to develop compassion! – (yes it’s possible) – compassion for everyone you see because no one is getting away without some kind of struggle.