I always knew that social media is the best cover-up known to man, with the right photos you can really paint your life to be whatever you want it to be and people will just accept it without question. You hear so many stories of people showing off a lavish life on Instagram without a penny to their name through cleverly thought out imagery and creating the representation of a life that doesn’t exist. I think we’re all guilty of glamming things up a bit for social media for whatever reason.
I originally became aware of the power of social profiling when I was in a really dark place. So many times my friends and family who don’t see me more than once a month due to distance would say to me ‘you look like you’re having a good time’ and ‘you look so happy’ all based on images they’ve seen on my social media profiles – me smiling, having fun and just generally positive pictures of my life.
The reality was so much more different. I was really really unhappy but of course that didn’t show through my photos. I smiled, posed and posted the best times of my life while leaving out the really dark times that were happening regularly. I just kind of want to remind everyone to stop taking social media seriously, they’re not realistic representations of how people are feeling. People aren’t gonna post the moments of them feeling shit or crying, they’re going to post photos of them all dressed up and seemingly having a good time. I’m not saying people should post their entire lives, I think social media will always be about the pretty moments of life. I just kind of want to add a bit of reality and let people know that social media covers up a lot.
Filtering Out The Bad Stuff
The picture above will always trigger a sad emotion in me, which is weird because I look like I’m being productive in the gym and have my life together. Oh my god, I certainly did not have my life together at this time by any means of the word. I was an absolute mess. I hated my life and I struggled to get out of bed everyday to face the world, my anxiety was absolutely out of control and I was having sleep paralysis every night to the point I couldn’t even go to sleep at night. I was completely dead behind the eyes, felt numb to the world and my head was well and truly gone.
Does this picture give any of this away to anyone? No, not in the slightest. In fact people will generally think I’m on the ball with my life and health when in reality I hadn’t been to the gym in 6 months and I forced myself there before having another panic attack and going back to bed. I can’t really explain it but it helped me to put this on social media, at least if other people thought I was okay I wouldn’t have to deal with anyone worrying or asking questions about my current state of a life. This was regular for me, if I posted seemingly positive moments of my life it made me feel less tragic and helped me keep up this fake persona I was maintaining for so long.
It affects me looking at this picture because it takes me back to this time in my life where I was really struggling with my mental health, I can see absolute no emotion behind my eyes and I know that at that moment in time I was a completely different person to who I really am. I was consumed by sadness and felt completely worthless. But this picture tells a whole different story, so everyone thought I was okay. There was no reason for them to believe I wasn’t, my social media told a completely different story to what was real.
If I compare this to a photo where I was actually happy and content with life, you really cannot see a difference. I look like the same person on the outside. But the differences between the two people in these two posts are unbelievable. I genuinely believe them to represent two completely different people, the first picture isn’t me. I was completely emotionless and scared for my life and that’s not me at all. They’ll look like just normal pictures to everyone else but to me, they stand out as two completely different times in my life and represent completely opposite mindsets. Just another of the 6274737725 reasons you cannot rely on social media to find out how people are.
The Power of a Smile
The picture above always hits hard for me too because i can’t even tell you how much of a disaster this night was. I look so happy and smiley and like I’m having an amazing time when in reality I got ready, got on the way to the club and had to turn around and go to bed because I started panicking as my mind turned against me and I physically couldn’t be out in public because I felt so anxious and lost. But I look like I went on to have an amazing night and enjoyed myself.
It is so bizarre to me how much a picture can hide. I know why I did it now, because i believed hiding how I really felt helped me ignore it when realistically it didn’t, I was just running from my problems. A post like the one above can just give off so many implications and none of them are even close to the reality. It makes me feel sick to look at it because it reminds me of how much my mind took a battering that night, and during that period of time when I was an anxious wreck who literally wrote a suicide note on my phone like the week before.
It’s crazy to me how well I hid things with the help of social media. My social posts and messages were the only connection I had to home at that time as I was living in Ibiza, so to all my family and friends I looked like I was having an amazing time and looked very happy. I even had multiple messages of people telling me they were jealous of how I was living, making me think ‘hahahaha you absolutely do not want this’.
Keep it Real
I know so many people will tell me that I shouldn’t post pictures like that if It gives off the wrong impression of my life. I’m not saying they’re all completely false, I did have a good time and in some photos I’m genuinely smiling and making good memories. I made the best memories of my life in Ibiza, don’t get me wrong. I’m also not saying people should post their troubles, everyone is entitled to privacy. I suppose I’m writing this as a way to remind people to never use social media as a way to suss out someone’s life and happiness.
What I’m saying is that a picture doesn’t tell the full story. You can’t make assumptions of an entire complex life because they posted a photo smiling, you just can’t. I want to remind people that everyone’s life isn’t what they seem on social media and you shouldn’t accept someone’s happiness through a post where they might seem happy. It is imperative to understand that social media is the best parts of someone’s life and no one really posts their hardships online (until I started sharing this blog and now I get anxious about people knowing I’m a mess). But it’s okay to struggle and it’s okay to show you’re cracks, you can’t keep up a perfect persona when you’re not okay.
This is so important in a modern day filled with influencers and social media dominance. We need to wake up and stop comparing ourselves to others or thinking that people are okay because they posted a photo of them smiling on instagram. Once we get into a mindset of awareness that social media I a massive lie 90% of the time, it will stop being negative in our lives and we can start using it for good.
I know more than most how easy it is to cover a shit time up with a few social media posts, working in marketing I definitely know how to build the image you want to build. I wanted people to think I was good and having a fun time because I wanted to believe it myself, but it doesn’t get rid of the issue. You can ignore it and try make out you’re happy but it won’t go away.
Although I get worried about people knowing about my problems, I definitely feel better. I couldn’t have spoke about it at the time but now I’m on the route to a better mindset and I actually feel happiness again, I only hope I can help other people understand that it’s not healthy to compare your life to those on social media because it’s just not realistic.
– Beauty by Disaster x