Reality vs. Social Media

It’s 8 in the morning and I lay torn in bed with a message that struck me so dearly, that I do believe, it broke me out of a writing slump that imprisoned my words for years. To the online world, I appear to have an amazing life. I travel, eat out, have amazing experiences and go to dope events–the supreme starter pack of digital happiness. But what most don’t know is I feel lost.

I feel like I have purpose and meaning within my life but I still feel like I’m wading in the water, with a void in life The pressures of appearances and analytics take their toll in a very real and invisible way.

We live in a social digital age where the core foundations are mirages of happiness, meritocracy, and comparison.  I thought to myself how many of my “followers” including myself are just showing a mirage of happiness. Often I battle bouts of depression in silence. But what’s worse is the time it took me to identify it [depression] because its appearance didn’t align with the images that I had come to define it. It is functioning… full functioning rather; it is vacations and champagne, museums, events, and all things cool…. A total facade.

Am I  happy enough?

Screening the majority of profiles on social media one will find highlight reels and images that showcase positive times. While happiness is amazing, we are humans capable of complex emotions and experiences outside of this one-dimensional feeling. I find we build castles [social media profiles] for ourselves so grandeur no one hears our screams or believes there is anything wrong, Funny enough people look to manifest the very castles we have not knowing we lay dead inside. And by the time they do, it’s too late and there is no meaning to a death that seemingly had no causeor reason.

The danger lies in the pressure of appearing happy and it takes a special type of courage to be sad.

The pandemic has forced some of us to meet our biggest demons because the distractions have been shut off. Without the distractions, guised as our coping mechanisms, we are left with our thoughts; rushing in like wrecking balls destroying our armor. How sad to think that these thoughts, our thoughts, can be what brings us to our death and not just physically.

The voices that brings you to the darkest depths are those that are most familiar.

Am I good enough?

 Our society has adopted meritocracy. The idea that social and economic rewards should track talent, effort, and achievement.  

But what happens when your talent, effort, and achievement are in the gestation period and they aren’t remarkable… do you then, not matter?

You see, no one is willing to highlight the struggles until they reach the top. And this lack of transparency creates a confusing soliloquy that questions talent because one feels the struggle they endure is not normal. In fact, I find that failure and struggle are only socially acceptable in the forms of pity in situations out of one’s control. Thus promoting the ideology of ‘fake it til you make it’ and distorting our perception of life.  Without duality highlighting both the beautiful and the broken one can not make sense of the broken, because after all where do you put it? Where is it accepted? Where is it allowed? Instead, you enter into real spaces with real people disappointed by their illusions you so desperately wanted to believe. I’ve come to think this may be the missing link in authenticity in a digital world; to popularize failure in the same way we do success, erasing the taboo.


Am I enough?

Equally frustrating is the comparison that lies deep in the visceral makeup of social media. We no longer are comparing ourselves to those in our immediate circle or town even,  but the entire world. Under these circumstances, the comparison is almost always the thief of joy.

One rabbit hole later and you’re watching a kid (in a country you’ve never heard of) doing what you do; better than you do, and half your age.

Or better yet a nemesis (found only in your mind) that is your standard to where you should be without evening knowing their story or struggles. This comparison becomes a recurring impossible standard that is insatiable and unrelenting.  Not even celebs can escape the same feelings. Just as recently as today Chloe Bailey spoke on the backlash she has received online to showing her “sexy side” Teary-eyed she expressed that most people don’t get to see the real her and when she does show it they are convinced she is “doing the most”. She continues to describe it as a side of herself not yet know to the world but very much a magical part of who she is. The perception of what people saw almost boxed her into where they felt like she belonged. Chloe concluded with the advice:

“Stop comparing the best version of everyone else to the worst version of yourself. @chloebailey


So where do we go from here, huh?

It doesn’t seem to have an end in sight… so how do we cope? I think the best place to start is reprogramming our brains. After all, the feelings we feel, others mirror, and what we see… isn’t always real. By promoting both digital social sabbaticals and highlighting digital human transparency we create a more balanced social landscape.  Additionally, committing to being enough and finding inner peace cultivates a spirit of connection rather than a framework of comparison. While struggle will continue, it is the realization that that struggle completes us that makes us human.