Today I look beautiful, happy, successful, adventurous, together, content and profound. I have my life in order, everything is perfect, shiny and fabulous…and if you’re not sure, you can see it all beautifully placed on my Facebook page. Ah, how glorious it all is. How perfect my life seems… EXCEPT THAT IT’S NOT! My actual life DOES NOT look like my Facebook life AT ALL! My life, my true life is kept to myself and my inner circle (and now a little bit here on my blog). I have been maintaining a façade, a Facebook façade and I want to come clean to everyone about it.
Now before you feel deceived, I just want to clarify. Everything you’re seeing on my Facebook has actually happened. I am smiling because I’m happy, I have actually visited those gorgeous places on holiday, attended red carpet events and hung out with celebrities but what what you’re not seeing is the before and after of those moments. You’re not seeing the crappy photo where a bad angle reveals a double chin, you’re not seeing me wrapped up on the couch crying because I’ve had a tough day, you’re not seeing my self doubt, angst or fear, because that’s not how I want the world to see me. I don’t want to advertise my flaws, I want to highlight my assets. And that’s what you’re getting – HIGHLIGHTS. You’re getting the absolute best moments of my life. Those moments that make up 0.1% of my actual existence.
Once upon a time, we used to compare ourselves to celebrities, now we compare ourselves to our friends. We compete with the people we care about and what’s worse is we’re actually competing with a false reality. None of it is actually real. We have become personalised publishing houses, posting pictures, words and videos to reflect our ideal self, not our actual selves. Everything is touched up so as to ensure we are as “liked” as possible.
I’m not quite sure why we have all bought into fantasy Facebook; we are all guilty of perpetuating the myth. We put so much pressure on ourselves, seeking approval aka “likes” from others that say our lives are interesting, worthy and shareable. There have been plenty of times I have stopped myself from posting something because I wondered how my community would react. Would my “friends” still like me? Will I be judged negatively? Will this post garner me more attention and popularity or will it hurt my social status?
The psychology of social media fascinates me. Articles in the Huffington Post and Psychology Today reveals the dangers of buying into the Facebook façade. They focus on envy, comparing yourself to others, false consensus, jealousy, reliving past experiences, compulsive behaviour, seeking perfectionism and false attachment. None of these are healthy ingredients to bring into ones life.
I’ve seen friends compare their relationships to married couples with envy, only to discover a few month later that what looked like a picture perfect fairytale on the outside has ended up in divorce. I’ve heard friends compare their bodies to others, only to discover that the other person “on show” suffers from an eating disorder and deeply battles internal hatred. People have compared themselves to me and let me assure you, as much as I love myself and my life, I am surrounded by a lot of darkness and crap (that I don’t always advertise on Facebook). For example, did you know last week someone stole my identity and all my money, leaving me in a panic, broke, desperate, fearful, worried and depressed state? Yes, that was my shitty week (which I’m still dealing with today) and although I had a moment where I was about to share it in a Facebook status update, I refrained because I didn’t feel it served a purpose, I didn’t need the dramatic “oh no” “what happened?” rhetoric. Instead I cried to my friends, family and lover, which felt a lot better than a heart emoji.
Another example is this – my birthday party last weekend. Looks good right?
It was a lovely afternoon and I really enjoyed it (sincerely) but what you didn’t see was the panic I had a few days before when I felt like cancelling it because I couldn’t cope with my own unattainable standard of the type of tea party i wanted to host (think the equivalent of a high tea at Claridges London). You missed my first world problem mini breakdown where my desire for perfection left me absolutely mobilised. Lucky I have good girlfriends and a patient boyfriend who got their hands dirty and joined in, helping me host a lovely afternoon that I really ended up enjoying; but again, those not so glam moments weren’t posted on my Facebook wall.
I’m not saying quit Facebook. I can assure you I will still be logged on tomorrow. There are plenty of wonderful aspects I love about Facebook, especially the ease of being able to interconnect with people across the globe. Instead what I’m advocating is perspective.
- Remind yourself that you’re seeing the absolute BEST BEST BEST part of someones life and the truth is you don’t actually know what happens before of after that post was uploaded. Context is key.
- Be responsible. Manage your relationship with social media. If it’s not working positively for you then change it. Hide posts that don’t feel good. Stop being friends with people you don’t actually care about. Follow feeds that enhance your sense of self. Make technology work for you!
More than anything, remember, your life is not about seeking validation from others. Your life is about being true to your authentic self. Don’t worry about the image you’re putting online, concentrate more on the type of person you want to be. Yes, it’s lovely to engage with Facebook but I can assure you a cup of tea with someone you love will make you a lot happier.
So, now what? Well. I’m going to take my own advice. I’m going to be a bit more conscious when the lil green eyed monster appears. I’m going to remind myself that I don’t know the full context to a story that turns up on my feed. I’m not seeing the cold feet before a wedding or the sleepless nights with a 2 month year old, I’m not privy to couples’ quarrels or the inner voice of a friends self doubt. Those true, authentic, real moments are the gifts that we earn when we invest in real relationships with people. It’s the meat of life, the good, bad and ugly and by far the most human. So, for today, I’m going to spend time investing in real life connections and a lil less time focusing on my Facebook façade.
Written by Danielle Lauren (Proudly 34)
Danielle Lauren has been working in the Entertainment Industry for over 17 years. Her love of storytelling has passionately driven her to a successful career with global credentials. She has directed ‘The Vagina Monologues’ at The Sydney Opera House, ran MTV Australia / New Zealand as their sole Executive Producer, mobilised 30,000 filmmakers internationally to film their lives simultaneously for a feature film called the 11Eleven Project and currently works on digital projects for Google, Microsoft, Sky, Sony, BBC and MTV UK. Passionate about making the world a better place for all people Danielle has also worked with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, WWF, UNHCR, NSW Rape Crisis Centre, WIZO and the Aids Council. Danielle currently sits on the Royal Television Society’s futures committee, helping young people build fledging careers in the UK TV Industry. A global citizen Danielle was born in South Africa, grew up in Australia, lived in America, France and now resides in the United Kingdom.