People often make remarks about how social media users share only the good and happy times but never the bad times. This has even been blamed for making other people feel depressed about their own lives, because of the illusion that other people are doing better all the time. I have seen funny comments saying that people should tell us (their social media friends/followers) when they break up, if they have spent time sharing photos of a happy relationship, so that we too can have closure!
I have to admit that I did find that funny, because it is true that some people excessively share information about their happy romantic life on social media. As a social media user, I know that I too will only share nice pictures of myself and my family – you will not find me sharing photos of a tired husband, messy house or crying child, although I might make a comment or two about them on my status. I also find social media great for promoting events and business.
The thing about sharing the bad stuff in life on social media is that you will often forget to share again to say that the problem is now resolved, so people are left with a lasting bad impression of your life, partner or child, which no one wants. A few moments after the ‘useless father’ comment, there might be a great dad moment, which you won’t even have time to share on social media because you were thoroughly enjoying it! There are people who will write a strongly worded negative comment on their status about their partner, family or friends when they have a rough patch, and although I do not personally agree with handling things that way, I understand that there are motives for it, which some people use as a coping mechanism.
For example, someone may write about their ‘friends’ being jealous of them or their boss being ‘mean’, so that they can get sympathetic replies from others to make them feel better about themselves. In my opinion, you could just talk it through directly with the person you have problems with, deal with it maturely or delete them from your account, if you are that upset. I have never heard of a friendship or relationship that got better because someone wrote a nasty comment about it online!
I am aware that social media is an outlet for many people, especially in these busy times when meeting up with friends/family can take months to organise. That, in itself, is a topic for another day – social media should not be a replacement for a real social life and true friendships. It has slowly become an addiction of our time to judge how good a thing is by the amount of responses it gets from social media. I think it is sad when adults think this way, and even worse when teenagers begin to measure their self-worth by the popularity of their images and posts on social media! It is absolutely normal to want to share your best moments with the world, but we must not give social media responses too much importance and influence on the way we feel about ourselves.
No sane person hangs out dirty laundry, until it is washed and clean, so why should we be expected to always share our bad/sad moments with the world? I have sometimes done so though to encourage others in similar situations, which I think also creates a realistic picture of life for one’s ‘admirers’. I am all for sharing your successes and happy moments, but we should also try to avoid living for the media.
Social media gives everyone a chance to feel like a celebrity in their own circles through glamorous photos and shared posts that people will read daily. If people are ignorant enough to feel that one’s social media image is real life all the time, then that should not be blamed on the person sharing the photos. I know people who are very good at portraying a fabulous life online, which is a far cry from what their lives really are. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a good life and image, but I think you should actually create it, rather than wasting time faking it!
We should educate people that let the happy social media photos get them down. I understand that sometimes people can be going through difficult times that make it hard for them to see everyone else’s happy moments on social media. Instead of expecting everyone else to stop sharing their happy moments for their sake, why can’t we make people understand that it is okay to log off and not look. You can delete the app, avoid the website or even delete your account, if you have to. All social media users should also regularly check that they are happy with their privacy settings and friends list. Technology is there to serve us, not the other way round.
More importantly though, we should learn to deal with our emotions so we can be genuinely happy for others on social media and real life, rather than judging and being self-centered when others share their joy and successes.
Writer – Dr Afiniki Akanet is the Author of Life Without Coffee (Choosing Happiness Over Stress) and Director of Evasitters UK. Read more of her work at www.afiniki.co.uk