My relationship with social media is similar to my relationship with my long time high school boyfriend. We were on, we were off, I was in “love”, I never wanted to look at him again. Sometimes things were pretty good and I thought we made a pretty great team, and other times he would put everything I had ever given him in a box, bring it to my house and run over it with his car while I watched. (That’s where it ended. Very symbolic and artsy, really… Oh! The drama.)
My Facebook days have long since passed. We broke up years ago for reasons I don’t need to discuss here. But Instagram is my love and my nemesis, my friend and my foe. I can say this knowing I am not the only one. Studies show that when we receive a “like” or “comment” on one of our Instagram posts, there is a small burst of endorphins that run through our body. “Ooo! Someone likes me!”, “someone whom I have never met thinks I am pretty!”, “someone approves of my breakfast!” It’s a fact people. A sad fact. When we post something and nobody “likes” it, we fall into a deep dark hole and only a quart of Ben & Jerry’s and a Sandra Bullock movie can bring us out. (That last part isn’t verified by scientists, but it happens.)
So here is the bone I’m pickin’ with Instagram, (and any other form of social media for that matter, Instagram just happens to be my drug of choice.) It will kill you. You will die a slow and sad death if not managed correctly. And managing with complete and utter indifference is a very hard thing to do. There will always be someone who outdoes your posts; someone whose life looks MUCH more put together than yours. They are up at 7 a.m. making lemon ricotta pancakes, #organic, in silk pajamas for their 4 children, #blessed, while each one of them is dressed in designer clothing and playing together quietly by the open fire. #dancingtosinatra #isntlifeperfect. Well that’s the thing, it’s not perfect, and that’s not real. I have found myself obsessing and comparing myself and my life to THIS! Thinking I need this, I don’t do that, last but not least, why don’t as many people like ME?!
It’s sad you guys. Really sad. But I want to be real with you. I have been that person sulking in the corner thinking my life doesn’t compare. But guess what, my life is my life and it’s perfect and fine just the way it is. I have laundry up to my eyeballs because our laundry machine has been broken for a month! I can’t even remember the last time I made a home-cooked meal and I RARELY do my hair. I brush it like 3 times per week. And that’s fine. Because that’s me, that’s us. And when I’m not busy comparing what we have to what I THINK other people have, we’re pretty happy. I wouldn’t mind a new washing machine though. #openfordonations
I read somewhere a short essay by author Judd Apatow …. And by “somewhere” I mean a chipotle paper to-go bag, (See? My lack of home-cooking brought me to this brilliant epiphany. Winning already.) “When I was in high school there were 500 people in my graduating class. Out of those 500 people I had two best friends and five other real friends. So I had a true connection with seven people and did not have a true connection with 493 people. Now I create stories and hope that 500 out of 500 people will appreciate the work. That is impossible. I don’t love most things I see or listen to, why should they? The truth is I should be happy with seven people being touched or amused by my work. I think it is okay to accept the fact that most people won’t get you. We don’t need to like each other so much. We need to be kind and respect each other.”
I have 2,850 followers on Instagram, and guess how many people called me on my birthday? 3. Guess how many people I meet for lunch on a regular basis? Um… probably 2. And the number of people I keep in touch with via text or phone call is around 12. I don’t think anyone on the face of this planet has more than 30 “real life, I see your face all the time” friends. I mean, that would just be exhausting. Unless you’re Taylor Swift, then maybe you have more.
So here’s the bottom line. I just want to let you know that you are enough. You are beautiful, important, special and worthwhile. Even if you can’t take a decent photo if your life depended on it, maybe you aren’t a photographer by trade! Who cares! You are fabulous and wonderful.
Am I going to be quitting social media anytime soon? I don’t think so. Here’s the problem. I am a sucker for that silly little app. I love taking photos of my little one, I love seeing what people had for breakfast… I truly do, it’s a funny thing… and those FILTERS! I can’t stop editing photos, it’s an unruly obsession. But the comparison needs to stop. Like yesterday. I need to be greater and better than what the numbers on Instagram tell me. I need to stop beating myself up. I am me, and I am enough.