Keeping up with the joneses! We are all guilty of it. We see other people ‘succeeding’ and we feel inadequate. Facebook is one of the worst for making us feel this way. People only ever share what they want you to see, it’s so incredibly fake, we know this, yet we buy into it.
I got myself quite upset one night; I was sitting with a glass of wine, scrolling through my news feed and I see posts like:
“I just came home to no kids, hubby has booked us into a hotel for the weekend. Totally made up. #BestHusbandEver #SoLucky #LoveHimLots #MyLifeIsAmazingAndYoursSucks”
“My Child is only two but can recite the alphabet backwards, whilst playing the piano, and standing on their head. #BestKidsEver #MyKidsAreBetterThanYours #ImABetterMumThanAllOfYou”
“OMG I’ve lived on air for 3 weeks, and been to the gym daily, I’m like so skinny. Please look at my 10000000001 gym selfies. If you’re in doubt which ones they are, I’m in lycra, and look completely self indulgent. #ImSkinnyYoureFat #ImFitAndYoureLazy #ILookAmazingInLycra #YoudLookLikeABurstSausage”
“Another promotion at work. I just come in, do nothing, and ta-da, better job title and more money. Oh and look at the new car I bought myself. Holiday next. #ImSoSuccessful #YoureTotallyLame #RollingInMoney #YoureSkint”
Ok ,Ok, these may be ever so slightly exaggerated, but this is how I read my news feed. So what did I do? Yup, you guessed it! I over thought it, and I compared my life with others. I sat and thought things like
“My husband doesn’t do that for me? Why? Where is my trip away for the weekend? Pffft, I don’t even get taken for a meal, let alone taken away”
“why don’t my kids join all of these clubs? Why do their kids seem to have more friends? Why do their kids seem to be more adjusted than mine?”
“I eat too much and I’m lazy. I need to work out. I’ll never look as good as them Lycra. Is this what the gym bunnies look like? Do I want to subject myself to in person comparisons? Hell no!”
“Wait! Have they not just been on holiday? I could swear they were. Oh that was last year. Hmmm, when did we last have a holiday? Oh right, 3 years ago. Fantastic”
And so, it begins, the vicious cycle of me thinking the whole world has it better than me, based on a few selective glimpses into people’s lives on social media. It’s madness. Last year was a particularly tough year for me, in many ways, but doing this to myself on Facebook was making it a helluva lot worse. I would sit, feeling very low, on my phone just scrolling and scrolling, becoming even lower with every upbeat ‘my life is amazing’ post.
We are all guilty of showing the side to ourselves we want people to see on social media. It’s like a sort of ‘social media etiquette’, like our regular social etiquette; When I say “Hey, how are you?” I don’t expect to hear “Well, you know, my cat died. I lost my job. I think I may have a UTI, as well as gout…or maybe it’s a fungal nail infection…dunno…you wanna see?”. No. Just no. I want to hear “Yeah good thanks, you?”. We don’t actually ask “Hey, how are you?” to sit and have a Dr.Phil session, we do it because of social etiquette. The same logic applies to Facebook; We put up filtered pictures of ourselves, ones where we’ve done our hair, makeup, got the right lighting, tilted the camera at the right angle and probably taken 101 attempts to the get the one we deem as ok to post. Once it’s uploaded we eagerly await the likes for recognition that our efforts have not gone unnoticed. Then there is our Bio, this is usually something cheesy about how amazing our life is. Finally, it’s our daily posts; We don’t want to post that our cat has died and we have fungal nail infection, why? Well because it’s gross and deeply unnecessary for one. So, what we do instead is we wait for funny little anecdotes or something good to happen, and we exaggerate. We all do it, every single one of us, just some are better at it than others. Some people spend their entire existence giving off the pretence of a perfect existence on social media to get all of the likes, so they can feel validated. Have I been guilty of being this way? More than likely, although, this doesn’t stop it from frustrating me.
By the end of my wine and reading my news feed, I felt inadequate. I felt incredibly down for such a long time, continually asking myself all these questions of “Why am I not good enough? Why don’t I have what everyone else seems to have?”. Everything in my life appeared to be crap and I saw no way of me being able to make it any better. Hello depression and anxiety, it had been a while since I’d felt this low. I cried pretty much every day, just feeling so useless, and like I would never measure up. Well you know what? No more!
I don’t own my own house, it’s rented. My car is nearly 10 years old and has a broken parking sensor (don’t ask!), so it beeps continuously when in reverse. The only radio station I can get in my car clearly is Classical, of which makes me really thankful for my AUX port, that I plug my phone into and sit on the passenger seat as my phone holder broke. I’m not skinny, or particularly healthy and I have post teen acne. My kids are far from perfect, drive me insane and fight most days. My husband isn’t the brightest bulb in the box, and will need prompting to do nice/thoughtful things. My family are like something out of a comedy, only, it’s not terribly funny when you live through the drama’s, but definitely makes for funny stories to tell later down the line. I live in a house where I feel that the washing basket will never be empty, no matter how many loads I put on. What do my kids do? Graze clothing in search for an outfit and chuck it to the wash?? I have no idea. Then there is the fact my kids are all completely fussy, no two kids like the same thing. What are the chances? 4 kids and they’re so incredibly different, so finding things to eat and do is a nightmare. Everyone in the house bickers and fights over the most pointless things continuously, I often feel like just getting the car, and driving. No destination in mind and no plan on coming back, just driving. I live in a permanent state of exhaustion and there is always something else to be done. The house is never fully clean, the kids are never fully happy, and somewhere in between I fit in a full-time job.
All this being said; What I do have is a roof over my head, my home is lovely, it’s big enough for this big crazy family. We’re dry and warm and want for nothing we need. My children may drive me nuts, but they are my reason to get up every day, they make me laugh more than they make me cry. My husband may not be the brightest bulb in the box, but he makes effort in the ways he knows how and he loves me. I have a fantastic job, that I wouldn’t change for anything. My friends are nothing short of amazing, and if you’re reading this, thank you for being there for me though my whirlwind year, I would not have done it without you.
My end goal is to be free of ‘social media envy’, once and for all. I believe that cutting down my time on Facebook will help, but getting rid of it altogether may be best. I need to keep reinforcing the good that is in my life and not comparing myself everyone else. I may not have the best, and yes there are many things I don’t have that would be nice to have, but I’m sure there will be someone out there that has less than even me and would like to be where I am. I need to not be envious of these social media post, but open minded to the fact it will be embellished, and if it’s not? Then I can be happy for them, not jealous.
I’m pretty sure that everyone will suffer from ‘social media envy’, but when you’re already someone who’s prone to depression and/or anxiety, of which already leaves you feeling inadequate, this can have a huge impact. Moral of the blog? Make a list of all the positives you have, however small, and be thankful for them. Don’t compare yourself to those fake, glammed up, posts on Facebook, nobody’s lives are perfect.