Facebook envy. You know what I mean. You’re scrolling through your Facebook feed, reading status updates that make you wonder why everyone seems to have a picture perfect life. Smiling babies, beach sunsets, designer purchases, engagement announcements and uber-flattering selfies. Besides the few people on our Facebook feed that insist on updating the world with their dirty laundry and “poor me” tales, most of our Facebook friends are painting themselves in the best light possible.
I am surely guilty of this behaviour and I have no problem admitting it. I chose to project an image of myself on Facebook that highlights the best parts of my life and steers clear of the not-so-stellar aspects, and I think a lot of us can relate to this. An easy example of this is the photos of ourselves that we choose to post. I can bet 99% of choose the photos that show ourselves in the most flattering angles and filters and would immediately “untag” ourselves if an unflattering photo surfaced.
This blog is a space where I share all aspects of my life – good, bad, interesting, boring, hilarious and awkward. I got the idea for this post the other day when I was taking a walk. I was thinking about how what we post on Facebook is a choice and most of us only post the moments that make us look good or even better than we are. I decided to take a look at some of the status updates and photos from my own Facebook profile and deconstruct them. I’m not doing this because I think there are people out there that envy the life I have or the life I have created through Facebook, but am doing this to show that social media is part human interaction and part smoke and mirrors. So let’s get to it:
Exhibit A: My husband goes on business trips and I binge watch TV shows.
What you see: My husband has a decent enough job that it warrants him going on business trips. I get the luxury of doing nothing but watching Suits and gawking at the gorgeous Harvey Spector.
What you don’t see: I am wearing my husband’s old t-shirt that has a toothpaste stain on it (courtesy of sloppy old me). I am eating a giant bowl of Triscuits for dinner. I would much rather be on a date with my husband instead of sitting alone watching Suits and despite the humour of the post I am actually a bit resentful that I am left home alone for two days with no car.
Exhibit B: I spend my afternoons sunning in my pool.
What you see: A sunny day, a novel (alluding to the fact I am well read) and a glass water bottle (alluding to the fact that I am well hydrated and environmentally conscious)
What you don’t see: That pool ladder is not yet screwed in due to sheer laziness and I had to delicately climb into the pool as to not fall or take the ladder in with me. I have been stuck on page forty-two of this novel for three weeks and hardly touched it the whole time I was in the pool. I had to spend twenty minutes cleaning the dirt and dead earwigs from the pool before it was up to my swimmable standards.
Exhibit C: I’m a blissful newlywed.
What you see: My status update informing the world that I heard my husband call me his wife for the first time on a phone call.
What you don’t see: He was on the phone talking to the company we hired to fix our pool. After he called me his wife he also learned it would cost him and his new wife $1,000 to fix the broken parts on our pool.
Exhibit D: I get to go on vacation for two weeks and have a job where people send me emails, meaning I am somewhat important.
What you see: A relateable post about the dreaded return to work after a vacation. I’m sure a few of you nodded your heads in understanding.
What you don’t see: I initially shared this status lightheartedly. I was not dreading going to work and was not too worried about my inbox. Shortly after sharing this post I got to my office and felt overcome with nausea. I ended up having to run to the washroom and threw up! I still have no idea what made me throw up, but perhaps deep down I was actually fearful of that unchecked inbox. Thank goodness, I got to work early so no one was around to hear me puking my guts out.
Exhibit E: A nice computer, some snacks and my blog page.
What you see: A girl working hard on my blog in an airport lounge with a few snacks.
What you don’t see: I had three more packages of cookies I hid from the picture so people wouldn’t see how glutenous I am. This work station was also completely disgusting and I had to clean all the half eaten cookies, empty coffee cups, wrappers and crumbs before I was able to use the computer. I purposely didn’t include my face as I was travelling home after a wild bachelorette weekend. I had no makeup on, a shiny face from eating so many cookies and bags under my eyes.
Exhibit F: Dressed up in a cocktail dress at a high-end event.
What you see: A pretty sparkly dress, my hair and makeup done and posing like a pro at an event I was invited to attend on behalf of a PR company I work with.
What you don’t see: The fear in my eyes. The fact that I had no idea what I was doing and had to ask the photographer how to pose. The thoughts in my head about how nervous I was, wondering why I came to this event and why the PR company trusted me to represent them. Although this picture exudes confidence, inside I felt the exact opposite.
Exhibit G: A hilarious quote from the hit TV show, The Office on Valentine’s Day.
What you see: A sense of humour. The fact that I’m not one of those people posting mushy lovey-dovey statuses about their significant other on Valentine’s Day.
What you don’t see: I tried to post something funny to make me smile because in reality I had the worst Valentine’s Day. My husband had major flight delays and cancellations and never made it home in time. I had to cancel our Valentine’s plans. Plus, I also had a cold and my period. I had no sense of humour on this day, nor did I feel like laughing but this status makes it seem like I was in a great mood, sharing a hilarious quote.
Although none of these statuses are that far from the truth, you can see how by omitting certain details or playing up certain aspects you can give off a certain image or create an idea making your life seem just a little better than it actually is. Does this hurt anyone? In my opinion, not really. But at the same time, some would argue this behaviour is harmful to ourselves and the self-esteem of others.
What do you think? Is this type of behaviour just a part of our culture now? Have you ever felt social media envy or have you ever embellished a status update just a little bit to make your life seem a little more perfect?