Most of the time, whatever we see on social media, is just one side of the coin. Almost everyone will only share their positive or joyful moments of life. It seems that’s how our brains are wired. Almost no one is going to share their ongoing family troubles or relationship tensions to others. Let’s explore this “reel life” in this post.
On social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and SnapChat, people look like they have a much better life than they really do. People are posting pictures of when they are really happy, they are modifying those pictures to be better looking, even if they are not modifying pictures, they are selecting the pictures for the best lighting & best angle. By the way, Facebook knows that Instagram is bad for teenager’s mental health.
So, basically people seem way better looking than they really are, and they’re way happier than they really are. And unconsciously we might think, “see all these happy beautiful people, and here I am, not that good looking and not that happy”.
Just to clarify, there’s nothing wrong here with posting only happy moments with others. I am not conveying that, above things are bad or wrong to do. At some point, even I have done that. Our human brain is wired to show others how happy or beautiful we are. We like to share our good sides.
Because we know, some people will praise us, and we will instantly get a Dopamine hit. Sometimes, deep inside we need others’ praise and validation to allow ourselves to be happy. In reality, we don’t need anyone’s praise or validation to be happy and joyful.
Anyway, the point is, when we are scrolling through the feed, we should not compare ourselves with other people. We may not compare consciously, but unconsciously sometimes we end up comparing other’s social media life with our miserable life.
Now, it’s not that only you have problems in life. Everyone has some kind of problem in their life. But only we know about our problems and we have no idea what other people are going through. So, we end up comparing our full and nuanced life with someone else’s partial(i.e. happy) life, and feel sad about ourselves.
Things like these can sometimes make people feel very sad. Because people generally think of themselves relative to others. We're constantly re-baselining our expectations based on what we see outside in the world.
Actually, everyone has their own set of problems, tensions, traumas in family, business or job. Someone may be fighting with their partner or having bad relationships with their children, or struggling to make money. But, almost no one will share these stories on social media. Our general behaviour is, we are hesitant to share these stories with others because of embarrassment.
Point is, we should not consciously or unconsciously compare ourselves by just looking at people’s social media profiles. Profiles do not show the full picture.
Especially those social media influencers, and celebrities. We don’t know what’s going on in their life. Again, the point is not to say, they are always very sad or ugly looking. Point is to see the fact that, just like we have our set of problems in our life, they also have it. And just like we have some happy moments in our life, they also have it.
One example is Sushant Singh Rajput. Who would have guessed that he was going through so much stress and problems by looking at his social media profiles? That was a bit extreme, but the goal was to convey that, we can’t know the full picture of people’s life by their social media profiles. We just don’t know what’s real.
Watch this awesome and at the same time eye opening video of some daily life examples. Sometimes what people showcase their life on social media is far different than it actually is. And day by day, this gap is increasing.
One guy in the comment section of that video is saying..
We’re a sad generation with happy pictures.
And there’s some truth to it.
Detachment from real life.
This urge of showing our bright and happy moments via social media sometimes doesn’t allow us to enjoy and observe the richness and nuances of real life. Sometimes people are more interested in taking photos, to post them on social media, than just truly enjoying and feeling the moment.
If we think about it, social media is meant to be a place where you share things about your life, and to tell your friends “what’s going on with you?”. Basically, to keep connected with society, hence “social” media.
But, the problem rises when we try to measure or quantify this “sharing” by likes, comments, shares, followers and subscribers. Our brain is wired to get the dopamine hit from those positive social feedback. So basically, social media is quantifying this thing which was not possible to be measured before. But now we can measure the positive social feedback by these likes and comments etc.
So, when one of our photos gets less likes for whatever reason, we may feel bad. So, people will sort of focus on achieving that positive social feedback next time rather than just sharing their life moments. So, it changes the whole focus from sharing things about your life to sharing things that get more positive feedback in form of likes and comments.
So ultimately, it detaches us from the real world more and more. Slowly but steadily, we keep living in this virtual world, which is nowhere close to real life.
When we post our happy moments on social media, sometimes we unconsciously expect others to write good comments and praise us. And when they do praise us in the comment section, we get the Dopamine hit. This is that same Dopamine when we consume alcohol and nicotine.
It gives us a sense of pleasure. We feel instantly good. But, at the same time, we are also getting addicted to getting that dopamine hit again. So, we keep posting at regular intervals.
And sometimes, we’re kind of “expected” to comment on good things or praise our friend’s posts. Otherwise, they will feel bad and our relationship may end. Why? because they also commented good things on your post previously. So, you’re bound to repeat that in their posts. I’m not saying everyone does this or faces this. But some of us do.
And this whole cycle keeps us scrolling and posting again and again, just to get that dopamine hit. Instead, what we should be doing is dome productive things which actually make our life better.
Social media usage is increasing day by day. There’s nothing wrong with using social media. But, the moment we end in the addiction of social media, problems start. Major psychological problems occur when we post photos and videos just to show others how happy our life is.
Here’s another similar post on “A realistic way to live a happy life” in which we explore a straightforward and relatively simple way to live a genuine happy life.