Sunday Musings: Manufactured Realities
We've gone “voyeuristic” as a society, and it's no secret that we have social media to thank for that. The opportunity to peek into a person’s life and draw conclusions on the kind of life we perceive them to be living is rampant and almost addictive behavior. Social media offers a kind of intimate access to areas of a person’s life and their personality that you could probably only make assumptions about in the past. This kind of information accrual can sometimes lead to cyber stalking by even some of the best of us. We stalk because we have a thirst for knowledge. It’s human nature to be curious about those we don’t know and now, we have the perfect tool to quench that pervasive thirst. However, with the opportunity to peer into the unknown comes the increasing rise to create visuals that may not actually or even remotely be close to reality.
Women, sometimes, tend to do this over a man. What does your boyfriend’s ex, look like? What kind of person is she? How does she dress? Is she more successful? Smarter? Better in some way? All of these questions and a whole lot more can be answered via social media, provided someone has a presence and posts regularly. From there, we go back to our mental lab and process what we perceive to be this person’s life and who they are.
We make judgments about the places a person visits and assume one is “doing well” because of the clothing one wears or the restaurants they patronize. We deduce that one “is lucky” or “#blessed” because he or she has a beautiful relationship per their latest post and finally, we compare. We compare our lives to their lives. We compare our relationship to their relationship. We measure our success, according to their success but all that glistens certainly isn’t gold, or even copper, in some cases.
I do not exclude myself from this process at all. I have definitely gotten emotional over a “perceived reality” and it’s singularly important to remember when consuming social media that the vast majority of it, is indeed manufactured. People often highlight their highs, very rarely their lows. Sometimes we project our own insecurities and feelings on other people and have an emotional response to something that is curated to project a certain level of achievement.
However, even if what is being represented is indeed a true depiction of a person's reality, it is difficult to ascertain the back story behind any one person's social narrative. You never truly know what someone has been through or what someone is going through to arrive at what you have been allowed to see.
Bottomline, do you! Don't worry about them ! While some folks are doing it for the 'gram, others are making sure to do it in real life. My journey is mine alone and I have always believed that what is meant for me, will be mine regardless of the next person's successes. Presently, the comparisons I try to focus on are those of a past self. Am I getting the lesson I was intended to learn? Or do I constantly find myself in a derivative of a situation, I should have already mastered? Lastly, the affirmation that comes from within, is more powerful and motivating than being overly concerned about what the next person is doing and approval seeking from others via "likes".
What say you? Have you fallen into the comparison trap thanks to good ole social media? Please share your thoughts.
Photography by Kait Ebinger