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Be Careful Little Eyes What You See

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Social media can be equal parts wonderful and worrisome. It introduces one to a much bigger and broader world that exists outside our own. It ushers our target markets right to our fingertips, keeps us abreast on daily happenings and it provides encouragement, inspiration and humour from millions of miles away. On the other hand, social media can foster comparison, it may fan insecurities and feelings of inadequacy individuals already possess and struggle with. Social media really is what you make it. Where you are (mentally, emotionally, etc.) and how you structure your account and engagements will determine what your take-aways are. The onus is always on the consumer of the information to ensure that social media is adding more than it is taking away and helping more than it is harming.

 

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People’s accounts rarely depict truly authentic real life. This makes sense. Regardless of the person’s motive or plans let’s start with a practical example. Imagine if you took a picture of one scene out of a movie, no one who saw that picture would be able to tell you the full story. The same character who is suited and booted looking sharp and successful, could be bankrupt, blown up, broken or weeping bitterly in the next scene. Unless you have access to the entire film you may not be aware of this. Someone who sees the image of that one scene might decide that that character is “goals.” This could be based on the way they are dressed, how composed and focused them seem, how lovely the setting of the scene is and other intangible assumptions which may or may not be correct.

 

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This is often the case with social media posts of others. One picture can never tell the full story and we should never expect it to. If we apply common sense and read the fine print there is often nowhere where the person behind the account (the poster) promises that what we are seeing is them 100% of the time and the success, bright lights and beauty captured in the small frame is their eternal experience. And this is fair enough! After all, the poster has no obligation to share any or all parts of their life. And when they decide to they are allowed to pick and choose as they are led. Even those who strive to be as open and honest as possible cannot capture their full experiences in one picture or 30-second video clip and a short caption.

 

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We are all aware of the rules and realities of social media, yet when negative feelings assuage us we often throw these facts out the window as we overestimate how well another person’s life is going compared to ours. These unhealthy theories are wildly supported by our social media experience which we have constructed ourselves based on who and what we choose to follow. It is also augmented by the (mis)interpretation of what we see. The truth is even if “everyone else” (on our social media follow list) is doing better than us (bearing in mind that this is very relative and social media persons are hardly representative of the spectrum of human experience) it still does NOT matter. What is more important is to define our own tailor-made dreams, set our own individual goals and develop and implement plans to reach them.

 

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Often times we might initially follow accounts that show us places we would like to travel, material possessions we would like to own, body types we aspire to build and experiences we want to have. However many times when we connect these things to someone else’s reality it fails to serve as inspiration and starts to become torment. My advice – advice yourself!

 

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It is understandable that most individuals seek to put their best foot forward on social media. After all why would they post pictures when their eyes are swollen from an argument, when their wallets are empty and bills are still left unpaid or when their body is ravaged from illness? That’s right – they most often would not. In fact if we take a leaf from our own books of experience when things are serious and challenges have presented themselves to be tackled the last thing one wants to do is post on social media. So we can agree that most of social media is lopsided, is constructed and consumed through rose coloured glasses and should never serve as a measure of achievement or even aspiration. Many times individuals realise the toxicity of social media but misdirect their aggression. What’s next?

 

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Again I repeat my advice is to advice yourself! Rather than accusing others of being fake or pretentious or trying to deconstruct their lives and read between the lines of the story they are not telling, it is more important to guard your own heart and your mind. As you strive towards your own definitions of success, balance, contentment, achievement and growth it is important to be self aware. What are you consuming? How is it making you feel? Do the accounts you follow for motivation really motivate you or do they leave a bitter taste in your mouth and an ache in your stomach? You may be feeding envy, jealousy or negativity by the people you follow. If the way someone else’s account is constructed rubs you the wrong way it is not your job to keep watching until they adjust or set up forums to discuss this, it is your job to unfollow. If the possessions someone else is posting make you feel inadequate, your job is to unfollow.

 

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You do not need to construct your life goals around someone else’s tastes. You can actually use Google and magazines to create your own vision board, you can visit travel sites, brick & mortar stores and online shops that hold the items you aspire to have so you can set your aspirations before you in a way that is more neutral and less negative.

 

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We should not worry about how others are doing, what they are doing, or where they are doing it. If we focus on what is happening in our own real lives and strive towards achieving our own goals we have a greater chance of attaining success. Therefore we should not allow the posts and updates of others to influence our feelings and be the measure of our progress. After all, not every post is factual, and the reality of others will rarely influence our own outcomes anyway. Be careful little eyes what you see as you strive to stay focused and negativity-free!

Zeni St. John

  • Iphie

    Thanks for this beautiful piece Zeni. Happy new year!

    January 28, 2018 at 4:28 pm Reply

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