Everyone reading this blog probably has at least one form of social media. In fact, you probably have several. How many hours do we spend each and every day stalking friends on Facebook, checking up on our Instagram likes, or pinning posts on Pinterest to discover new ways to keep up with the trends? I know, for me personally, the answer is a lot.
Our generation is addicted to social media. Why is this? Well, when we receive a text message, or a “like” on Instagram, our brain receives a boost of serotonin, the thing that makes us happy. So why wouldn’t our phones, tablets, or laptops be constantly attached to our arms?!
But social media brings more than happiness. In fact, social media can actually cause quite the opposite effect.
In “Rockwell,” a popular nightclub in Miami, there is a mirror near the entrance with the phrase “Take a selfie” written at the top. People stop as they walk in to pose in front of the mirror and share it on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, etc.
On my 21st birthday, I, myself, stopped to pose.
After all, if people didn’t know what an absolutely incredible birthday I was having, did it even count?! Of course not!!
The next day, as I was lying in bed and slowly sipping on a gallon of Gatorade, I started scrolling through the pictures I had taken of my weekend. Only 39,492,387,493 in the three days? Not too bad!
It was then that I came across the “take a selfie” picture and took a closer look.
Only after taking the picture does another line show up, below the first, that says, “Fake a life.”
I was annoyed at first that I’d been tricked and didn’t want to post the picture. How dare the club call me out like that?!
I’m not faking a life! I really did have fun that night!
But what about other times?
Life is not perfect. Not mine, not yours, and not that girl or guy who you have always envied so much. I promise.
So why is it that unless someone knows us well, they would never know this?
Because social media has taught us how to construct an image of perfection to share with all of our “friends.” With apps such as FaceTune, which allow each of us to be a Photoshop professional and Instagram model, no one ever has to know about our stretch marks, love handles or the giant pimple that decided to set up camp on our chin last night.
At the worst points in my life, I have found myself scrolling through my social media platforms, wondering how in the world I could be the only one feeling so unhappy. It took me longer than I’d care to admit to understand that they weren’t. I then looked at my own profile and was shocked at what I saw: a carefree girl who was traveling the world, eating gourmet meals and laughing through life with her best friends at her side.
How could it be that while I felt like my life was crumbling around me, I had somehow succeeded in maintaining an image of perfect bliss?!
Honesty Hour: This is a screenshot of some of my Instagram posts. I looked soo happy, right?! Wrong. Ready for the reality?
The only real posts are the first (I made a video for class that I was proud of) and the last (I had a fun night with my friends).
But the picture of the laptop, candle, books, and coffee? I spent 30 minutes staging it perfectly. I had finished the book the night before, the journal is full of my insecurities, the candle is unlit because it didn’t work with the lighting, the “hot coffee” is really cold chocolate almond milk because I have Crohn’s Disease so coffee hurts my stomach, and the laptop is closed because I was feeling overwhelmed by my extensive to-do list.
Should I go on?
I cried the day I took the picture in the red bathing suit.
My angel mother drove 5 hours to take me to feed elephants because I was in a really bad funk.
The picture of me lying on a tree was the only one I liked out of 500 I took. I felt incredibly uncomfortable and had knobs and jagged pieces of branch jabbing into my back.
This particular screenshot was taken at the height of my depression, something I had felt the need to hide from my “friends” and “followers”. But why? Why did I need to pretend everything in my life was perfect when it was so completely not.
I realized that if I could appear so happy while feeling the way I did, then so could everyone else.
I’m still not perfect. I’m human. Of course I want to show my best self to those around me.
Being aware, however, whether I’m on vacation, out with my friends, or in a museum, of living in the moment and enjoying myself, rather than constantly worrying what others are thinking of me (both on social media and in person), has made me much happier.
So has keeping in mind that no one else’s life is perfect, no matter how it looks on social media!
There’s nothing wrong with sharing your happy or exciting moments with the world, but stay true to who you are!
Also, next time you are doing something totally awesome, and your instinct is to snap a picture to share with friends, stop, take a second to soak it in, breathe in your bliss and gratitude, and breathe out any envy you may feel toward others. I mean, remember, things are rarely as great as they appear on social media.
Sending you all my love today and always.
Now get out there and be awesome.
2 thoughts on “Take a Selfie; Fake a Life”
Thanks Courtney for your honesty and well-written post. I’m a teacher in Western Australia – would you mind if I share your article with my students? I think they’d have a lot to learn from you. All the best for your writing career. Danielle
I would love for you to share my article with your students! Thank you so much for your positive feedback and for being a caring and involved teacher. The world is a better place because of people like you.
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