“Honey, look what the Johnsons are doing! They are vacationing again. They have so much fun! Why don’t we ever do these things?”
Maybe you have heard this, or even said this to your partner in response to someone’s social media post?
We see vacation posts, proclamations of undying love and adorable children pictured everywhere. While all of these things can be fascinating as you are keeping up with long lost friends, ultimately it can leave you feeling as though you are falling short on many fronts. This is especially true when it comes to relationships.
What We See
Facebook and the other social media platforms are filled with stories of romantic gestures, anniversary tributes to long-lived relationships, and declarations of feeling blessed for the amazing lives being lived. We see beautiful selfies of friends that look like they haven’t aged a day, and couples that are at yet another amazing event. It appears that most people, especially couples, are living lives full of nothing but happiness, love, and rewarding events and experiences.
What We Feel
Recently someone told me they were looking at the many postings of a couple that used to be close friends of theirs and found themselves feeling a bit jealous. It seemed by the posts that this couple vacations ALL the time, and is still insanely in love. Her stream was full of kissy-faced selfies proclaiming, “this man! LOVE him,” while his posts showed cute poses of his wife as he declares himself, “the luckiest man alive.” Before long this person was feeling inadequate in their own relationship. They said, “looking at this it would seem that my relationship doesn’t even register on the happiness meter.”
It is not uncommon for these types of posts to leave us with the feeling that we don’t measure up. Feeling like somehow we have failed to meet certain benchmarks along the way, or like our life is drudgery compared to others is an unfortunate result of being too involved in social media.
How We React
As a result of seeing their friend’s posts they had the immediate urge to book a vacation and discuss with their partner all the areas in which they were falling short as a couple. Fortunately, they didn’t do either of those things.
Knowing better, however, does not change the fact that social media can make it seem as though we are doing something wrong. Feeling like this can lead to inappropriate reactions. If we think life is better for everyone else, we might be tempted to make drastic changes that are actually detrimental to our lives overall. As a matter of fact, divorce rates are actually higher in couples where one or both are heavy social media users.
Too much attention to social media can lead to depression and unrealistic expectations of your partner and relationship. You may find that apps like Facebook lead to a lot of marital problems. This kind of pressure to live up to what you see, and perceive as real, can keep you from finding satisfaction with what you have. Not to mention the desire to emulate those oh-so-perfectly positioned selfies.
What’s the Truth
The truth is that, generally speaking, most of what we see on social media is just ½ or ¼ of the story. We cannot see a full life, and all that it includes, in 5 sentence increments. Couples that seem totally in love and happy on Facebook battle the same issues all couples do, perhaps even more so given that they are focused on showcasing happiness so heavily. As it turns out, those head-over-heels in love, vacationing couple friends were working hard to save their marriage after she had battled severe depression upon losing her father unexpectedly.
And, take heart, many of those beautiful selfies that make you want to Google local plastic surgeons are run through photo-enhancement apps that give an unrealistic appearance of perfection. You too can have a 10-second makeover just by downloading an app.
The bottom line is we all need to be careful about measuring ourselves against others on social media. What we see is only what people want us to see or what they want us to believe. We would all like to be perceived as perfectly happy, perfectly together and with an incredible life. But truly, does anyone really have that? If we chase after perfection, then we lose sight of all the wonderfully less-than-perfect blessings we have already been given. You never know, you may in actuality be far better off than those you see on Facebook