The Reality Behind Social Media Is Not Picture Perfect

I have an addiction to social media – I’ll admit it: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. I love them all. It’s fun to scroll through Facebook and send my long distance boyfriend cute dog videos or find laugh-worthy posts that will make him smile since we don’t see each other often. It’s also a great way to keep in contact with my family who lives far away. I love seeing daily posts of my baby cousin and finding out that another cousin got in engaged. It makes those who are distant in miles feel closer at heart. It’s even become my main access to news and interesting articles since I don’t have cable; I always have my phone set to notifications to alert me of breaking news.

At the same time, I can’t deny the other feelings I encounter while on social media, especially while on Instagram. Sometimes I scroll through and judge others and myself. Why does she have such a perfect body? How does she have so many friends when she’s so mean? Why is her life so amazing compared to mine? These are daily thoughts I have as I scroll through my feed, feeling the weight of judgment and inadequacy.

This past weekend, I went on a retreat with my sorority sisters. Despite being all part of one sorority, we vary in age, personalities, values, and friend groups. And with so many women, avoiding drama is inevitable. We did lots of icebreakers to get to know each other better, which on the surface, showed us our similarities, but also our many differences. But at the end of the night, the tone shifted from lighthearted to serious as we had the opportunity to listen to a sister bravely share her “highs and lows”; the not-so-easy parts of her story that make her who she is. She then encouraged us to feel the freedom to also do so.

I won’t lie; at first, it was a little weird. A thick awkwardness filled the room as one of our sisters asked if anyone would like to start. It took a few moments of silence for someone to finally volunteer.

But as we started working our way around the circle, the results were amazing; people began opening up about some of their deepest lows and also their highest highs. No one was rushed if they needed time to unload and no one was forced to share more than they felt comfortable doing so. Many tears were shed, applause and cheers were given, and words of comfort passed along. The time flew. After three hours, everyone finally finished sharing.

It was only three short hours of my life. I can’t honestly say that I got closer to every one of my sorority sisters or that it changed how I feel about everyone there. What I can say is that it was a reminder that everyone is going through stuff. Some people’s problems seemed like mountains compared to mine, while others looked more like speed bumps. Regardless, everyone had something going on. It doesn’t matter how perfect they appear on their Instagram; people have sh*t going on in their lives. Everyone in that room may not be my best friend, but I certainly felt deep empathy and a sense of connection knowing that we all have moments of fear, sadness, inadequacy, and self-loathing. But in the midst of all of these bad feelings, there was always room for life’s highs, as we celebrated one another’s successes, joys, and hopes.

I have a belief that it’s never too late to start up a new resolution, even if it’s now February. This past weekend was a great reminder not simply to trust outward appearances of perfection and to remember that empathy is important. No, you can’t be everyone’s best friend and there will always be someone (or several someones) that you don’t like, but yes, you can try your best to understand them and trust that in opening up, you’ll be better understood as well.




Thumbnail Image Source