Social media is often critiqued for being fake. People post the best side of themselves (quite literally with photoshopping apps) and hide their true selves behind a guise of happiness. Unfortunately, this often leads to unhappiness and anxiety, as we compare ourselves to the best of others.
Young mothers are especially at risk for social media depression, deeply affected by their mommy-friends posting pictures and videos of their kids, their accomplishments, and seemingly perfect lives. Instantly they take a look at their own life, the dirty dishes in the sink, their crying baby, snotty-nosed toddler, and dinner of corn dogs and french fries, and start to wonder what they are doing wrong. In reality, they are no less competent than those smiling faces they see on social media, they are just comparing their “worst” to another person’s “best.”
The Social Media Effect
Social media creates a gap between our “real self” — the person that you are, and your “ideal self” — the person that you would like to be, or the person that you portray on social media. This causes many people, teens and adults alike, to experience social media anxiety. Among teens, there is something known as the “100 club.” You join “the club” if your photos have 100 likes. If you do not have 100 “likes” on your photos, it is embarrassing, and you can be shunned by your peers. Mothers also feel this stress as they try to keep up with their social media friends. They feel like they have to throw amazing parties, attempt DIY crafts, have behaved children, be a perfect mom — and smile every moment along the way.
It is important to remember that social media is a photoshopped slice of life. Photos are smoothed over, staged, and taken in a perfect moment. They do not represent real life. Every post and every photo does not show the struggle of a long day: the temper tantrums, the tears, the messy house, the long to-do list etc.
Your Story Can Inspire Others
In committing to showing your true self on social media, you will inspire others. The “perfect” moments will have more meaning because people will see the imperfect ones as well. Your friends will see your story and more fully celebrate your successes and will build you up when times are hard. You will inspire others to reach out and say “Hey, me too.” when things don’t always go as planned. Others will appreciate your honesty, relate to your circumstances, and feel better about their lives, as they see that others experience similar things. If you have recently experienced something difficult like divorce, addiction, miscarriage, or a death in the family, don’t be afraid to reach out and share your story. You just might change someone’s life.
How to Be Your True Self
Doing a complete 180 and posting every nitty-gritty detail about your life will exhaust you. It will also make your friends and family wonder if you are doing ok. Start small. Start by posting one status a week that is 100% honest. There is a movement using #TotalHonestyTuesday trying to increase honesty on social media every Tuesday — participate for a few weeks. Over time, increase your “honest” posts, until you feel like you are portraying your true self on social media.
Set goals for yourself to accomplish being more open and honest on social media. Decide how you want to portray yourself on social media and make a plan to get there. Make sure that you set SMART goals. SMART stands for: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-sensitive. Meaning: set goals that are clear, have ways that you can track your success, are accomplishable, and have clear deadlines.
Put Down Your Phone
The Android app “Locket” found out that the average user checks their device about 110 times a day. We are attached to our phones, we never leave the house (or even the room) without having them glued to our sides. Put down your phone. Live in the moment. Watch your children grow up instead of taking pictures and videos of them growing up. Interact with your little ones without a phone in between you. Give yourself a time limit for your phone, just like you would give one to your child. You will feel so much more fulfilled and happy by living in the moment than you do when you are glued to your screen.
Stop comparing yourself to others, and start seeing who you truly are. Every morning, look at yourself in the mirror and say “I love you” to your reflection. Change your perspective, and look at the things that you have accomplished, rather than every little thing you didn’t. Begin every day with a fresh outlook, and forgive yourself for your past. Try again today. Be grateful for what you do have, and express that gratitude often. Take care of your body by eating healthy and exercising as often as you can. And of course, learn to laugh.
Here’s to you showcasing your true self on social media!