and the false narrative of social media
Back in March, many of us either lost our jobs or began the practice of working from home. There was this mentality to make the most of it. To take advantage of the free time that either came with unemployment or no longer having to commute. Make a to-do list became the motto. Get in shape. Start eating right. Learn a new hobby. Become a better you.
As the months dragged on, despite these extensive lists regarding self-improvement, a lot of people were suffering. Corona virus brought on an onslaught of addiction issues, mental health problems, and domestic violence. And yet, due to the pervasive aspect of social media, we still see our friends posting on Facebook and Instagram. The captions may as well read, “Look how well I’m doing, despite the world falling to shit.” Are they though?
In actuality, most people aren’t doing well. I’ve run into the issue with my friends time and time again. “I’m working from home. I should be happy. I should be taking advantage of this time I have.” And yet, a perpetuated cycle of doubt, self-blame and worthlessness persists.
For my friends who keep coming to me with the same concerns and problems, I tell them the same thing, delete your social media. Still, I’m always surprised by their resistance to do so, which is accompanied by one of the following responses:
- I don’t even look at it that much
- I’m not obsessed like you think I am
- I only follow people I care about
- I don’t think social media has anything to do with it
I reiterate, social media is making you miserable.
If you are already feeling isolated and bad about yourself, scrolling through pictures of people who appear to be having the time of their lives without a care in the world is only going to feed your feelings of insecurity. That isn’t to say you are an unnecessarily jealous or weak-minded person, it’s a natural human reaction. You will only feel more and more alone.
And guess what, those people who look so happy, most of them are experiencing the same feelings of isolation, despair, and worthlessness. How do I know this? Because my very friends who are complaining about how sad they are, are posting to social media and saying the exact opposite.
I don’t say this to criticize them, but instead to drive a point home. It’s okay to not be okay. Most of us aren’t. We are living in a completely unprecedented situation and everything around us is plagued by uncertainty. It’s hard to make plans, to set goals, to dream of vacations when your income has been slashed, you don’t know if we’re headed for another lockdown, and there’s no saying when and if normal will return.
“I just feel like I haven’t made any headway this year.” I hear them say. I want to scream. Not because I don’t love them, but because I think they are completely undervaluing themselves. Instead of thinking about what you haven’t done this year, think about what you’ve learned. You’ve been forced to reassess what is important in your life and what you’re values are.
I want to say, forgive yourself.
It’s okay that you’re struggling to get out of bed in the morning. That isn’t laziness, that’s depression, which is affecting so many people right now.
I can’t stress enough, be kind to yourself.
So many of us have created these massive to do lists in order to better ourselves. Yes that list that’s constantly lurking in the back of your mind: get in shape, eat healthy, be better. It’s that same list that you keep kicking yourself for not doing.
It’s time to create a new list. Let the first item be to practice gratitude and to take the time to recognize and appreciate all you have to be grateful for.
Slowly, you can add to that list, but stop thinking you need a complete overhaul of who you are as a person. If this time has proven anything, it’s that the world is an uncertain place. The only thing you have control over is yourself. That doesn’t mean you have to be in peak physical condition, or adhering to the strictest fad diet. It means that you should be investing in yourself: time, energy and love.
Focus instead on your happiness and how you may radiate your energy and positivity towards others, because that’s your impact. That is how you as an individual will make the world a better place.
Start from there, and the rest will follow.