Do you ever get the sense that you are missing out on all of the fun experiences your friends are having while you are sitting back in your room watching the ‘fun’ events unfold through social media?
You’re not alone.
To be completely honest, as a college student most of my day to day life isn’t all that exciting. I’m pretty broke, have a lot of school/personal responsibilities and my social life tends to be the most neglected aspect of my existence. I think I speak for the vast majority when I express this concern. Most people I encounter are very busy, hard-working people that don’t have much free time. The problem is that we don’t want to admit that life isn’t always a party. We are shown in movies that college is supposed to be the funnest time our of lives and our brains are imprinted with this high expectation of what we are supposed to be doing. We listen to music that urges us to be exotic and adventurous. But in reality the expectations are exaggerated far beyond reality.
The secret trick is that social media allows us to portray our lives however we choose. It’s so simple to fake a smile to show everyone how awesome it feels to go out on the town even if that smile fades while we try to develop the perfect caption. The sadness of our reality is hidden behind the illusory wall of portrayal. It turns into a competition of who’s living the best life because everything is uploaded for everyone to judge. I am just as guilty as the next person, when I step out of my study/work bubble and hang out with some friends I often find myself sending a snapchat or posting a picture to show how social I am.
I see it all the time when I go to parties, as soon as somebody pulls out their phone to take a snapchat everyone goes insane and pretends to be having the best time of their life. The 10 seconds passes and everyone goes back to normalcy. We pose for Instagram pictures to express how amazing our lives are. The competition never ends, we crave the likes and comments and it builds up our online ego but when we put the screen away things seem a little less impressive. Depression rates are at an all time high yet on social media everyone seems to be having the best time ever; it’s no coincidence. Society is building up these expectations one post at a time. Especially for those who have fun in ‘less popular’ ways. For example, I like to spend a lot of my free time playing video games or watching youtube videos but these aren’t portrayed as the popular type of things to spend my time doing so it creates an isolated feeling of guilt like my time should be spent living the ‘good life’.
We forget that its okay to not be living the dream every moment of our lives. We neglect the truth that life is challenging and to achieve success and happiness isn’t an easy road. Learning to enjoy even the most mundane aspects of life seems to become more challenging and we desire the unattainable and forget to enjoy life for what it really is, a journey of ups and downs. The strive for perfection is destroying us within and it fills us with angst and sadness that we are falling short of how life is supposed to be.
This example is even more prevalent straight from the source, Hollywood, who has been creating this pressure since the very birth of show business; why do so many famous people commit suicide? I thought they were living the life we all desire? The fame, the money, the unlimited freedom, but yet they are all on medications to keep them stable? How is it that the people who are portrayed as the most charismatic, funny characters such as Robin Williams actually struggle with achieving happiness and fulfillment? Why do most celebrities that get to have the most fun of all have a past (or present) full of despair and depression? It isn’t uncommon, look up your favorite celebrity and I’d be willing to bet they’ve suffered from the same sort of challenges.
“I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.” — Jim Carrey
The truth is that we are all human and yet none of us want to accept it. We are all perfectly imperfect yet we pretend that we have it all figured out. We are all in a constant war of comparison and yet we wonder why we are never content.
We strive for an end goal that never seems to come, only drifting further away.
I propose a challenge for you and myself. Let us admit to our flaws and daily struggles and embrace the fact that we’re all in the lame human boat together. Break down the walls of expectation and enjoy the simple aspects of the day with everyone you encounter. Instead of competing against each other let’s get to know each other and have fun simply talking over a cup of coffee.
— Bryce A. Hoyt