With the proliferation of social media sites, and flawless Instagram selfies circulating by the millions, never before has the lives of others been so disruptively displayed for the world to watch. It’s the age of socially acceptable voyeurism, and it’s changing the way you connect and view others.
While our feeds are constantly updated by our ‘friends’ highlight reel of vacations, designer outfits and perfectly angled self-portraits, you cannot help but compare, contrast and even feel a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out). We’re not just missing out on that party we were never invited to, or the grand romantic gestures we never received, we also feel a sense of missing out if we don’t appear just as flawless, fun, and popular as everyone else. Exhausting much?
Research has shown that people often feel envy, loneliness and generally worse about themselves after perusing their friends’ party pictures. More over, the latest study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, suggests that teens are more likely to engage in risky activities like smoking and drinking if they see their friends doing it in photos.
Our addiction to social voyeurism is affecting us whether we are conscious of it or not. Keeping up with the Jones’s has been replaced by our modern day version of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. There is a pressure to keep up flawless images of our picture-perfect selves and exciting lives. And when a majority of society participates in the charade, it affects our perception of reality, blurring the lines between authenticity and persona. It’s the selectively curated 20% of our lives that give the impression that we are bar starring, couture wearing, model befriending, foodie adventuring… all the time. (#guilty)
The issue is, the more we strive for filtered perfection, the more disconnected we become with our unfiltered humanness. And consequently, the more we feel ‘less than’ because we aren’t measuring up to the lives displayed digitally by our friends. It’s easy to forget that the brand portrayed by others leaves out the boring minutia of everyday, the feelings of loneliness, the tears, the pimples, the morning breath – the every day details that make up the 80% of our lives. The everyday things that make us all perfectly flawed, human beings.
This article isn’t to suggest that you now upload a slew of photos of yourself with food stuck in your teeth. In fact, curating your imagery choices and words can be a rather creative means of self-expression. Rather, just be mindful of what you post and most importantly how you consume what you see. Remember that people are watching, and while they’re at it, they’re also judging and emulating. Don’t forget that the most beautiful part of you is your humanness – and that essence isn’t necessarily best-served photoshopped, X-Pro filtered and hashtagged “me”.
Photo by: Panda
4 Replies to “Perfectly Flawed”
Personally, I view some social media as a house of mirrors, full of distored reflections, illusions and easy entrapment.
If you’re not familiar with what’s going on, it’s easy to get confused, frustrated and lost (feeling “envy, loneliness and generally worse”). For veterans of social media, it is easy to turn the house to your advantage and create false projections with smoke and mirrors for everyone to see as they walk through.
However, there are times when the mirrors break. For the some, the truth may finally emerge; for the others, a carefully constructed house of mirrors quickly becomes a house of glass (revealing them in all their social nakedness).
As Amy’s article reminds me, I am very guilty of curating a carefully orchestrated house of mirrors, polished to reflect only what I want the world to see. It’s one part of creating and maintaining a personal brand on the internet. I keep tight control of what’s out there for people to see. If a mirror breaks or cracks, there is quick damage control to fix it. One rule I abide by though is that everything reflected IS genuine (no lies or deceit).
However, some personal stuff is not reflected (like “I nearly destroyed the microwave by reading cooking instructions written in French”). It’s stuff that’s unflattering (and damaging to a personal brand) but, after reflection, it is also the stuff that makes me human.
As Amy mentioned, a majority of society participates (to an unhealthy extent?) in social media. For me, that means a majority of society is stuck navigating multiple houses of mirrors, full of skewed and crafted reflections. Like in a real house of mirrors at a carnival, the real truth/person/reality is found at the end, if they let you get there.
Thanks for reading Jason and for the thoughtful comment. You raise some interesting points…
Really interesting article.
For me this is probably tied up with the fact that we market ourselves (consciously or subconsciously) via the internet and thus, as Jason so eloquently pointed out, we choose what we want people to see and filter the things that we don’t want them to see. I believe that this might be detrimental (at least when it comes to relationships) because you can never really get a clear and full picture.
As you said, the most beautiful part of us is our humanness and maybe our picking and choosing is a direct detriment to just that.
I loved this piece and I think it was written beautifully. It is true, we live in a world where we make a conscious effort to be perfect although we subconsciously know it is impossible. As a 20-something I am currently facing the most demanding years of self discovery in terms of career, identity and passion – I often find myself comparing not only my appearance but my personal journey to those around me and with the popularity of social media rising, I often find myself discouraged. Facebook posts and tweets from my peers constantly remind me that I am not where I am “supposed to be”.
We need to keep in mind that facebook, twitter, instagram and the like make it easy for us to make even our worst moments look and sound beautiful and we are so often focussed on how we portray our shortcomings and flaws that we miss the lessons we are meant to learn from them. We need to make it okay to not be perfect and realize that every single one of us is on a unique journey. We need is to not only support each other vulnerabilities but promote action in the face of them. Where we are and who we are is exactly right at this moment in time.