I’m a big fan of social networking. It is such a great tool for people like me who are aspiring to break into a writing career. I love facebook. I’m able to stay in contact with friends and family that I would not be able to if facebook didn’t exist. I think the social network is one of the coolest additions that technology has brought us.
It does have its pitfalls, however, and I am not talking about it’s time-sapping capabilities, though that is definitely an issue for some! I’m talking about the comparison game. I can almost hear you saying, “Ah, yeah! I know exactly where you’re going!” I think we have likely all fallen into this trap a time or two.
If you haven’t, or at least don’t think you have, or if you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, let me be the first to clue you in. What you see on facebook is not the norm. It is not life on a daily basis. It is not the picture of the day to day life of your friends or family. It is the show-book you see. All the best pictures and all the good, funny or special moments that paint the idyllic life that you assume we have. It is not reality, well, at least not all of it.
Case in point! 🙂
I don’t know how many times I have looked through some old friend’s pictures and thought, “Wow! What a beautiful family they have! They sure look happy!” or “Wow they look like they have the perfect life! Why couldn’t I have that life?” And the comparison starts. She’s aged better than me and she is as skinny as she was in high school and look! She has the coolest job . . . etc..
What so often I forget to remember, at least initially, is that I am comparing my life (with all its warts and flaws) to an airbrushed picture (not literally of course) that is not in fact real. No wonder why my world starts to seem a little shabby or wanting in comparison!
Ironically, I’m sure some people have looked at my posts and have thought similar things. I do have a beautiful family. I have wonderful moments. But anyone who has known me in the last eight years knows that facebook does not show the hard road we’ve had to walk, the frequent disappointments or the day to day frustrations of raising a young family.
The truth is, life isn’t a fairytale and it is far from perfect. Most of us have had to deal with disappointment, pain or loss. True, some of us seem to have to deal with more than our fair share. Life is not fair, and for whatever reason, God doesn’t seem to worry too much about making it “fair” either. But very few make it through unscathed completely, and most likely, a lot of those you think have made it through untouched have, in fact, been affected in ways that you simply do not know.
I’m not going to advertise on facebook that I had a daughter who died. I’m not going to talk about the disillusionment that I still feel as a result of what we have had to walk through. No one wants to air their dirty laundry like that. Frankly, it wouldn’t be appropriate, and obviously, we all want the world to see us as healthy, successful, well-adjusted adults. It’s like having your class reunion on a daily basis. No one wants to come across as the biggest disappointment!
Facebook paints a very happy, idyllic picture of my life, and that side does exist, but it is not the whole picture. That is how it is for most people. They tell the story of their life that they want us to see, the good side that leaves us with the best interpretation of his/her life.
Don’t get caught in the game of comparison, especially when you don’t have a complete picture. That is a road to unhappiness. We all have a lot more to us than meets the eye. If we compare ourselves to the facebook version of someone, we are comparing ourselves to a work of fiction.
We all have our share of good and our share of bad. My life is not as perfect as it may sometimes look and yours isn’t as shabby as it feels when comparing it to the lives of old friends through the small windows that facebook gives us!