Have you ever scrolled through Facebook or Instagram and suddenly felt that lurch in the pit of your stomach when you spot your friend or colleague or cousin looking really thin? Or maybe really happy? Maybe it feels like their kids are never crying or perhaps they are always laughing with their partner, smiling into each other’s eyes? Or maybe they are on holiday – again? Or maybe they are wearing that dress or shoes you know you could never afford. Why are they always having so much fun?
Social media has, in some ways, given us a window into one another’s lives. You can see your boss at home or on the beach. But of course, the reality is that everyone goes to town on their own window dressing. No one ever actually posts the crying baby or the tummy rolls or the screaming matches. They carefully curate a set of images to convince the world – if not themselves – life is great.
Yet even rationally knowing that, the lurch in the pit of my stomach stops me in my tracks. I quit Instagram because it just made be want to the thinner/blonder/on a beach but every now and then I find myself logging in and lurking. I get my fix of others people’s “lives” and like junk food, I devour it in the moment and then feel plagued with guilt after. Because it doesn’t make me feel good about myself. Fixating on the lives of others only serves for you to undermine your own. My reflection in the mirror simply becomes a list of negatives: I’m not that skinny; I don’t have a tan; my legs aren’t that long.
I did recently stumble across a bit of anecdote though, something that tips the balance and makes me remember what is good about my life. I’ve just came back from two weeks road tripping through Nevada and Utah. It was magical and I took lots of pictures on my iPhone. So now, instead of scrolling through other peoples’ perfect lives, every now and then I look at my own pictures, my own life and think, wow, what an adventure. After all, if we’re too busy looking at others, we might miss the amazing things that are happening around us.