It’s a regular evening and you’re lounging around, going through your Facebook news feed. One friend just posted pictures with his really attractive girlfriend, posing seductively in bathrobes on a cruise deck with a sunset background. Another friend just posted a status that says “Just got a promotion at work!” Your roommate just posted a picture from a trendy club, sitting on the lap of a very good-looking man, winking at the camera and pouting her lips.
Before the days of Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, our knowledge of people’s intimate lives was limited. Either the curtains were closed or we could only see what was on center stage. Today, it seems that not only is the curtain always open and there’s always stage visibility, but we have a continuous backstage pass as well. This backstage pass translates into getting updated details on what’s going on in peoples’ kitchens, bathrooms, bank accounts, and bedrooms, all the time.
And it’s taking a toll on the ability to feel satisfied with our own lives.
It is making us feel insecure about ourselves, our possessions, relationships and most importantly, our sex lives. And the irony is that it’s often caused by superficial images that don’t tell the whole story of what’s really going on behind the toothy grins, exotic vacations, and intense public displays of affection.
Social media doesn’t paint the real picture
For some, it seems like everyone but them is enjoying a satisfying sex life and has a blissful, loving relationship without issues. It’s hard to imagine that that couple down the block hasn’t had sex in months because of sexual dysfunction; after all, they seem to look so perfectly happy in their Facebook pictures. Or that beautiful co-worker goes to bed depressed every night crying that she’s single, even though she’s always blogging about her constant flow of hot dates.
Relationships are complicated and people are complicated, but there’s no disclaimer in social media reminding you that you are not seeing the real feelings and the real challenges. Consequently, you see your friends’ lives on your timeline, compare their ‘outsides’ with your ‘insides’ and fear that you’re missing out on all the fun.
Social Media is like starring in your own reality show
Essentially, social media has allowed any person to become the star of their own reality show. To the viewer, it seems real, it looks real, and it sounds real, but it’s still what you’re seeing only when the camera is rolling. And at least when it comes to watching celebrity reality shows, there is some recognition that they are acting or that the show is unofficially scripted to ensure there is appealing drama.
However, when it comes to being a viewer of your friend’s ‘reality show’ in social media, it can be more convincing. They’re not as far off as celebrities are. You don’t suspect they’re acting or that they’re being coached by a director. You can relate to them, you look at them as in your league. Their stories are more believable. And you want to believe those stories can happen for you as well. They can, and perhaps they will, but the image in front of you is still but an image.
How you can keep it real
It is important to be mindful of the fact that social media shows only part of the picture and recognize the impact it may have on how satisfied you feel with your own relationships. Perhaps you can decrease the amount of time you spend using social media, or have times of the week where you ‘unplug’ and do other activities that do not involve being ‘wired in’. Keep in mind that you don’t have to post every good or bad thing that happens to you and you can still celebrate life’s wonderful moments without it being broadcasted.
Knowing yourself and what triggers you is key to improving the way you can use social media in a healthy way. With honesty and patience, you can work on finding a balance to use social media not as a detractor from having strong relationships, but as a supplemental aid in forging closer relationships with others.