“Their life seems so much easier” “They seem so happy” “They have it together”. And also “I love that rug” “Oh my their shelf is amazing” “I need that mirror” are very common thoughts when browsing social media. But somewhere along this crazy social media vortex these thoughts have become muddled. They have merged. So we interpret people as having a sense of happiness based on their possessions, and think we will achieve the same. We miss, want and lust over things other people have and convince ourselves that if we have them too the problems in our life will disappear. Which they evidently wont. You will still have the same life, maybe just a nicer sofa to sit and be sad on.
Now I LOVE Instagram. Mad for it. Give me a fashion flat lay and pretentious food shot any day of the week and I will double tap the hell out of it. But it is so difficult when you see a little squared snapshot of someones lounge looking heavenly not to project your own insecurities on top. Completely buying into their fictitious happiness. ‘I wish that my front room looked like that. Mine is so messy, I am useless’. The truth is that although it is lovely, it is largely unachievable but it is also impractical. Like trays and vases of water and fresh flowers ON A FOOTSTALL. What is this trend? A foot stall is for your tired old feet to plop on whilst you chill out for a minute and catch up on Broadchurch (this usually fills me with a sense of inneptitude as I look at my unmanicured toenails that have 20 layers of varnish on- #mumlife). Also the piles of cushions arranged on the floor and the quirky throw perfectly hanging nonchalantly off the corner of the sofa. Don’t get me wrong they make beautiful pictures and some of these people have an amazing eye for interior. But it isn’t real life. Real life (for most parents at least) is biscuit crumbs on the sofa, kids kicking over the vase of flowers onto the lovely rug and daffodils that smell of piss dying slowly in their vase waiting for an observant visitor to point out their nauseating existence for you.
Its the same problem as the photoshopped models you see in the media. You aren’t seeing into someones whole life, you are seeing a filtered small tiny tidy little square that they feel comfortable enough to expose. Even the ‘real life’ bloggers probably would wipe snot away for a cute picture or at least wax their tash pre-selfie. Talking of body hair removal, I remember taking a picture of Olive in her stretchy wrap days old and loving it. I even got it printed. And then on closer and less drugged inspection realised I hadn’t waxed my underarms in about a month and I was looking rather European. Still have it- but chose not to Instagram it. Don’t get me wrong- I live for a good angled pic and a filter [ALWAYS a filter or Facetune], because I can. I don’t pretend its my real face (I just wish so bad it was). The problems arise when this is missed. When you think that people have these perfect faces and lives, and it can be thoroughly soul destroying, vomit inducing and envy sparking. Its not individuals alone, I think its a larger cultural problem. A systemic failure that needs to somehow be nipped in the bud. We need to say to people “stop comparing your life, because you’ll never be content.”
It is very easy to fake happiness on the internet. But if someone keeps telling you how great their life is- alarm bells should be going off in your head. Because if they feel the need to tell you over and over again- chances are they are trying to convince them selves. So if you are stalking someone and you don’t feel happy- stop in your tracks and find someone to make you laugh. Someone with an element of ‘my day is going tits today, my daughter pooed and the dog ate it’- or slightly less gross. Find people to follow who find humour in the everyday, who find the irony and satire in a situation and who don’t take themselves too seriously. Being able to take the piss out of your self is essential to being ‘real’. This is becoming really popular with the rise of Hurrah For Gin, The Unmumsy Mum, The Motherload and others. Real life is funny, and brings people joy because it is relatable.
It all boils down to what you want people to feel about themselves. Envy is destructive, and frankly it serves no purpose other than to make you feel crap about your self. Its also ugly. Really bloody ugly. Jealous people secrete it all around them and in their lives. And eventually people wont want to be around it. I will never understand why people cannot be happy for others achievements. We should be a support system for each other. I want my daughters to grow up in a world where their achievements are celebrated amongst the people who know them, and tbh the IG community as their every move is likely to be documented.
So let go of the feelings of inadequacy, stop comparing and try to spread a little love!