Recently, I posted a video on How I Got Myself Out of a Social Media Shame Storm. It was my first attempt at trying to explain the fallout from seeing something on social media that made me feel less than. As it turns out, it hit home for a lot of people. Why? Because we’ve all been the victim of the social media ding. The thing you weren’t invited to, someone’s better vacation, someone’s more meaningful picture with their kid. A prettier place, a more fun party, you name it. If we’re looking, even if we’re just glancing, there’s always an opportunity to feel less-than, online.
“Comparison is the thief of joy” said someone smart (Theodore Roosevelt). But we all do it at some point and that’s for two reasons. One, because it’s natural to be curious and two, we love a good story, even if it’s not true, especially the ones we make up in our heads. Have you heard the phrase, “a picture is worth 1,000 words?” I think that phrase can now be upgraded to, “a picture on social media is worth 1,000 different stories, none of which work out the way it actually was.”
The hard part is that navigating life without social media really isn’t realistic and neither is it realistic to expect to raise children who won’t go online to upload their life. What do we do? For starters, let’s start paying attention to what we tell ourselves is going on when we see something we either don’t want to see, wish we hadn’t, and/or feel the ding. If we’re not careful, the story that we create in our minds about what we see, won’t benefit us. So don’t tell yourself that story. Stick to the facts of what you do see: Cheryl is wearing a purple sweater in front of a statue. Cool. Not, Cheryl is always wearing the most amazing clothes having the most fun ever in the best places. As Jimmy Fallon would say, “Eewh.” Don’t do that.
Second, take your ego down a notch in reality here for a second. You’re not entitled to be invited to everything online or off. You are not the Queen, you are not the president, you are uniquely and amazingly you and you are also just uniquely and amazingly you. You are as special as you are not which means get over yourself. You weren’t invited? Stop. You weren’t invited. You’re not entitled to be. And in return, you don’t have to do the things or invite the people you don’t want to either. It’s your party you do what you want to.
Finally, don’t be afraid but do think for a hot second about what you post. Right now more than ever we all have an opinion about what’s going on in the world let alone online. But people are also now more than ever afraid to share because of fears of getting verbally and sometimes physically accosted. Why? Because I had an experience that was different than yours am I no longer able to say that or feel that? Aren’t we all entitled to our own experiences here and aren’t you entitled to yours too? The word is AND. We can all exist in our reality AND respect others’ as well. It is possible to do both of those things.
A final word. What you post is your expression of who you are. In the end, it might offend some people and support others. You do you, but do you with loving kindness and good intentions and remember, everyone loves a good story.