Since my last blog about splitting up with P I’ve been amazed at 2 things:1) the number of people who took the time to connect with me, to check that I am ok, to let me know they are there (thank you all), and 2) the number of people who said they were stunned. That they thought that we were a perfect couple.
It’s made me think about how social media can allow us to share the life that we want people to think we have rather than the life we actually have with our friends and colleagues. I mean, we have all probably done it; we have a day off, at home with the kids, it’s been a hell of a bad day, they have spent nearly all of it fighting or arguing over important things, such as who is going to get to sit next to Mummy or who broke who’s biscuit. You wonder how you could possibly have borne these Devils, You are just about ready to kill them, and so, in desperation you make them put on their shoes and take them to the park.
The only reason you are taking them to the park is the hope that they might put 100 metres between you and their constant bickering. This is not about fun, this is survival! It works, you can finally see the arguing but not hear it, and if you don’t look up you can pretend not to see or hear the constant whines of “Muuuumm, he, pushed/hit/punched/licked/looked at me funny!” Ignorance is bliss and so you sit back and enjoy the peace. And then it happens; they stop arguing for 1.5 minutes, the sun pops out for 2.5 minutes, and so you seize the opportunity to take a few pictures of them, in the sun, playing together like angels.
30 seconds later they are back to bickering and arguing and generally being little sods, what do you do? You retreat back to the park bench, you ignore the yelps and screams coming from the other end of the park and you upload those few rare peaceful moments to Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram. Look at how perfect they are, look how nicely they play together (Yeah right!).
The point is, I didn’t bother taking photos of them arguing, and I certainly didn’t post them to social media. Anyone who looked at my profile would probably assume that my kids and I had a whale of a time at the park, smiling and playing together. Which we did. I mean those perfect 1.5 minutes of not bickering or arguing, in the sun were indeed perfect. However I unconsciously edited my day/life down to those few small moments in an otherwise poxy day when I uploaded those pictures to Facebook.
Too many people accept that what people portray on social media is the reality of other people’s worlds. And that is quite a scary thought. If I was friends with someone who was depressed or not coping particularly well, they may well be under the illusion that I am coping perfectly, that I manage to be the perfect mother/wife/girlfriend/sister/employee/whatever. What they may fail to realise is that they are only seeing the highlights. The best bits. The parts that I want to show the world. They don’t see the me, snot hanging down my face, sobbing down the phone that I am a failure, that I can’t cope, that I am too tired, too sad to deal with this crap; because that’s not they way I want most people to know me. So those times get conveniently missed out from my Facebook feed and instead you see the times I’m winning at life, you see the good and I edit out the bad. To someone who is depressed or struggling to cope this can make them feel a failure, they may see everyone else’s lives through the rose tinted glasses of social media and this can make them feel worse.
And that’s how people form the impression that everyone else’s life is better than theirs. That they must be doing something wrong. They don’t see the cracks in the lives of their friends, they only see the paper that their friends have covered over the cracks with. But nothing is perfect, everything has cracks, and so you know what? Those 1.5 minutes of perfection, in the park, sun shining and kids loving me were the closest to heaven I’ve been for a while. And so I’ll carry on sharing those moments, however perhaps we should all bear in mind that what we see is not always a reflection of our full time reality, it’s the reality we’d like.