There are new studies emerging that Social Media can actually make you sad. I don’t know about you, but I can relate.
You know when you have one of those days where it feels like all your friends are doing cool things, or going nice places, or linking to interesting stuff and having insightful opinions on worthy topics? And then there’s you, still in your underwear in bed on Friday night with nothing much to do except a lot of work and a pile of laundry and dishes, with only the cat and a large bag of mint cremes for company. (Okay, the mint cremes might just be my thing… but you get my point.)
On Social Networks it’s easy to make your life look shiny. Take my recent London trip, for example. I ‘checked in’ to every place I went. Every nice restaurant, every hotel (there’s always more than one), every museum and theatre and show. I posted my photos to Facebook so my friends could see the beautiful and interesting things that were inspiring me, or just get a gander at some stuff they might not have seen.
I didn’t do it to show off. Well, not totally.
I know posting everything to Facebook as it happened will let me relive that holiday on my down days. It also saves me recounting my entire trip to everyone when I get home. More than anything, I was glad it was letting my family know that nice things were happening for me, because they are great and that sort of thing makes them happy, and stops them worrying. My mum is in a wheelchair and can’t get out of the house much at all, so keeping up to date with things that are happening in my life is not just nice for her as a mother, but something to look at for every day I was away.
But I was also very aware that it was making me look like a jetsetter with a fabulous carefree life and more money than sense.
People didn’t see the underneath parts of the trip. They didn’t know that before we left, my boyfriend was super stressed with work and even had to finish up some stuff on our first few days there. My fledgling business also meant I had little money and new, scary deadlines looming for first projects. They didn’t understand how far in advance we’d booked the trip, and how much we had hung our hopes on it to get us through the previous months.
Unsurprisingly, this enormous amount of build-up and stress didn’t end well. We both ended up with stress related medical conditions that made just getting around difficult. We also brought an extra bag as well as our usual rucksacks, and it turned out to be a pain in the ass to travel with. Consequently, we argued for most of the trip, hurting each other and spending time in nice places desperately trying to shake off grumpy moods.
In the end, we came home exhausted almost a week early instead of going on to Budapest for the second leg.
But of course, I didn’t really feel comfortable posting to Facebook about the arguments and bad times. I don’t want to complain and bring my friends down with that stuff. Also it seemed churlish when we were clearly doing nice things that many of my friends would have been glad of. Acknowledging how difficult things were felt like admitting defeat on this awesome holiday we were so looking forward to. And I didn’t want to remind myself of them later.
Also, when we weren’t using AirBnB.com (check them out, it’s a great way to stay anywhere) we booked the accommodation every day or so with lastminute.com and saved money. Staying in mystery hotels with eleventh hour offers often meant we got surprisingly expensive places very cheaply, though we did have to travel around with our bags a lot, and sometimes paid to check them in at LeftLuggage for the day. This made it look like we were staying in ridiculously swanky places and throwing money around!
And of course, nobody can see my credit card bill, or will ever hear about the difficulty I will have scraping together the money for repayments, or how much it meant to me just to get away to be worth getting in debt over.
My point is that we’re all people, and none of us are living the fabulous, carefree lives that Social Media makes it look like we are. And that’s okay because it’s good to concentrate on the good, and the funny, and the wonderful. But it’s vital to recognise and remember that for what it is. Beneath the silver plating there’s just dull old regular messy human stuff.
People are not having a life filled with more fun and success than yours. Everything is okay.