A good question, and, one which is explored in an intriguing article by Sian Bradley, writer for the HuffPost.
Sian discusses how social media affects her moods and suggests:
“people often use social media to present a perfect ideal of their life…”
It’s one of the negative aspects of social media: If you’re feeling down, seeing people on Facebook or Instagram posting holiday snaps can have a negative impact on your feelings of self-worth — especially when you know you can’t afford a holiday.
That said, we’d do well to remember: what we see on social media is only a snapshot of people’s life; you could say it’s a filtered version of who they really are and what their life is really like.
Have you ever felt even a twinge of jealousy while looking at a friend’s holiday snaps they’ve posted on Facebook?
Then, you’re not alone, there are probably millions of people out there who feel the same.
The thing to remember is: many people that post on social media want to look like they are having a good time.
But, ask yourself: how much of it is actually true?
Sure, they may be having a good time on holiday, but the reality is, other aspects of their life may be just as tough for them as your life is for you.
They just choose not to share that part of their life with the world.
Many years ago, before Facebook and the like, my wife and I took our 15-month-old son on holiday to Majorca.
The hotel was fantastic, the food was delicious and the weather was gorgeous.
To all intents and purposes it was an idyllic holiday. I have the photographs and video footage to prove it.
The thing is, it was actually the worst holiday we’ve ever had: Our son developed an ear infection which made him ill.
He wasn’t eating, he wasn’t sleeping so we had to call a doctor.
The doctor prescribed antibiotics and advised us to keep him out of the sun, keep him cool to control his temperature. Not easy, we were in Majorca in July.
We really just wanted to come home but our holiday reps couldn’t get us a flight back to the UK for another week, so we were stuck and had to make the best of it.
My wife and I had to take turns going out of the hotel room; I snapped some fantastic photos and some video footage when it was my turn to go out though.
When we eventually returned home we didn’t want to talk about how bad the holiday was.
We’d paid a chunk of our hard-earned cash for the holiday so when anyone asked, we just told them we’d had a fantastic holiday.
And, if they were really interested we had some lovely photographs and video footage of the resort we were staying at.
What’s more, if Facebook had been around back then, the only photos I would’ve uploaded were the ones showing what a great time we had.
Often, whether or not we are enjoying life, we create and embellish our reality to make us feel better about ourselves.
The point is, if you feel all that ‘humble bragging’ by your friends on social media is affecting your mental health, try doing one of these three things:
- be happy that your friends seem to be enjoying a moment of their life.
- find comfort in realising that nobody is really as happy as their Facebook status updates claim.
- totally unplug and stay away from Facebook and Instagram or any of the other social media websites.
The choice is yours.
I found this entertaining video which illustrates the point and puts things into perspective.
I also recommend you read ‘Climbing the Cliff’ blog. The author has written some powerful, thought provoking stuff about mental health issues.