Is your Facebook life your real life?
One of our friends’ Facebook pages is not very well maintained. There are no regular updates about her life, no photographs of what she’s baked and no passive aggressive statuses about the people she finds annoying. We asked her about this lack of social media presence a couple of years ago, informing her she was missing out on so much.
She replied with an impassioned rant about Facebook and other such social media websites, claiming they portrayed an inaccurate depiction of her life and that she preferred to share her life with real people instead of the internet.
I instantly thought she was a spoil-sport, hindering my attempt to create Facebook memories of the amazing times that I was sharing with my friends.
Now, I think she’s spot on.
At the end of the day, isn’t Instagram just a way to airbrush our lives? We post the best bits of our lives, the things we’re most proud of – and then put them through a filter to make them look even better than they actually were. We treasure the likes and comments and start living our life through the lens of: ‘what pictures can I take today, and will they be better received than yesterday’s triumph?’
Sometimes I think we post on social media websites to make a point.
We post passive aggressive statuses because we don’t like confronting the issue head-on, or we post sympathy-eliciting tweets to garner some likes and “aww babes love ya x” instead of taking our frustration to God.
Or, on the contrary, we upload pictures of our nights out to prove to others – or even ourselves – that we have friends and that our life isn’t a complete shambles. By having our Facebook profile full of fun activities and numerous in-jokes, we make ourselves feel better about our lives. We even like the feeling that other people will look at our pictures and statuses and think: ‘Wow, s/he knows how to have a good time!’ or ‘He’s got it all together’. And that’s another problem.
We see (or should that be stalk) other people’s lives on social media and compare them to our own. More often than not we check such sites when we don’t have much else better to do. As a result of seeing other people’s high points during our own low moments, we can feel jealous, insecure, lonely or boring. But therein lies the problem: we’re comparing our lives to a depiction of someone else’s. Your Facebook life isn’t your real life, although I fear the line has become somewhat blurred.
I’m not saying stop using them. I’m really not. Continue to celebrate your lives – maybe refrain from posting quite so many pictures of food, especially if you haven’t even made the meal yourself – but make sure you celebrate with friends first, then social media second.
Treasure the squeals of excitement from your friends more than the number of likes and retweets you get when you announce your new job or that you’re going on a date.
Make sure that your close friends know the full picture of what’s going on in your life – what’s great and what’s not so great – before you selectively post on Twitter. Social media should always fall second fiddle to real relationships, and never act as a substitute for them. It’s a relational tool which has many benefits, and social media communication is definitely better than no communication. It’s about perspective.
And of course, you shouldn’t worry that posting about your life might be making other people jealous; that’s not your burden to carry. All I’m saying is make sure you’re posting stuff for the right reasons and not using it to cover up an insecurity or prove a point. And if you do struggle with jealousy over other people’s social media lives, then I’d encourage you to spend some time with God and have Him speak over your life. It’s something I have to do on a regular basis.