No one wants to go spilling all of their troubles out in a public forum. Even I don’t want to do that but, what exactly are social media platforms for? Only the good times, the happy events and photos of smiling people on trips somewhere? This is what I don’t get fully and frankly, I’m left speechless, wanting to delete all of my accounts at this moment, which I may do once I’ve finished with this blog entry.
I’ve been talking to a Facebook pal for the past couple of years now and never knew that she was sick. There hadn’t been a word nor, a sign of it anywhere or in anything she’d said. As a matter of fact, only her closest family and friends had known about it. Needless to say that seeing her obituary notice, a week after her passing, had me floored. Not only had I not known that she was ill but, the fact that she was still posting jokes and was that close to death, had me in an uproar, feeling sad at the loss of such a young woman as well as feeling stupid and as though I was a complete moron.
Of course, it goes without saying that it was her choice to not tell everyone or anyone if she chose not to do so. What it did do though was to make me feel like a complete idiot when I found out and not only that but, too late to attend her funeral. On top of that, I had liked and commented on photos of her trips with her husband, anniversary celebrations and family birthdays. In other words, only the best in her life had been posted on her account and by her. That seems to have been her wishes and I can see how somehow, carrying on as though in denial about the terminal illness could have made her feel better. However, for the rest of us, left behind who were her friends and weren’t told nor, did we have any clue, it left us all in a state of both shock and upset. In other words, we all felt like fools.
It’s been said by a lot of psychologists and mental health personnel that Social Media platforms and, in particular, Facebook, can lead to depression or feelings of worthlessness. In this case, nothing could have been more spot on than that type of idea. Here I was, happy for her that she’d been going on these trips, celebrating different occasions and seemingly with friends, family and doing things with her life when for at least the past year and a quarter, she’d been battling a form of cancer that would inevitably end her life while not getting even so much as a hint towards the gravity of her situation or how close to death she was. No, she did not post many current photos which may have been a tip-off to a lot of us.
It doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or whatever platform you can think of. The truth is that there is very little truth to much that is 3 dimensional in anyone’s lives on these things. There’s only what that person wants you to see or know about them and their lives and in reality, 95% of that or better is the happy times. There are few who are honest enough to say that their lives aren’t perfect so for those who feel as though their worlds are falling apart, these social media accounts can not only make one depressed when seeing everyone else’s lives as seemingly perfect, fun and only good things happening but, it can leave one feeling like a fool if the person is ill and you’ve never had even so much as a hint that they’ve got something wrong with them. If they pass away, it comes as not only a shock as I’ve experienced but, it’s left a lot of people upset that they didn’t know and were perhaps, jealous, envious or feeling lacking in their own lives somehow.
So, what does one do about it? How does social media become more realistic without people having to dish out their dirty laundry for all to see?
- Be a little more 3 dimensional. Don’t always simply post happy selfies while out with friends or family.
- Spill a bit of anger, upset or even a few negative thoughts that you’re wrestling with from time to time.
- Post photos of some of your burned dinner or accidentally shrunken tops and pants disasters even if you do it in a comical way.
- Give people at least a hint of some kind that you’re not always just happy, happy and more happy. You have some down times too. You don’t need to air your dirty undies to do that but, you could go a little further in that aspect by letting others know that life for you isn’t always roses, lollipops and sunshine. No one’s lives are that filled with rainbows.
- Private message your closest friends when you have something as serious as a terminal illness. You don’t need to fill them in on every detail if you don’t want to but, at the least, give them a heads-up on it so that they are prepared and it isn’t a horrific shock when they do find out.
- While we all love to laugh, everything in Life isn’t one huge laughing spree to everyone else. Jokes are great and we all need them but, if all that we’re doing is spreading around jokes or chain letters or prayers or whatever else we do on these things all of the time, everyone else feels as though their lives are flawed seriously when they’re not in the mood for “funny”. Share something more serious at times.
- Not many people will take the time to read an important article, watch a video that may be inspiring but, we’ll all “GIF” or joke ourselves silly and still not know anything about each other in any real sense. We only know what we’re told and shown.
- When you’re hurting, you’re hurting. You may not want to share every detail of your hurt nor every time but, other people have had experiences as well and they may be able to say something or shed some light onto your situation which may be comforting if not a help.
- Don’t expect people to see you always smiling, laughing and selfies posted with others or on trips and figure that they’ll get what’s really going on in your life. The average person will only spend about 3 to 5 seconds on a post or photo. Post something a little more seriously said though and they will linger a bit longer because they too, have issues. None of us are without them.
- Intersperse the good with the not-so-good in your life. Make yourself more accessible to others. Other people don’t like nor want to be around someone who is always laughing, cheerful or partying. They want to know that they are not alone in their troubles or even negative thinking at that point in time. Show them that you’re also a real person who has bad crap happening to you as well.
We can all go to joke sites and get our fix of humour. All of us have the capability of Googling inspirational sayings or quotes. We don’t need social media to post it all to nor, do we become “friends” with people who are on these media to hear of only the good, funny or inspirational. We friend others because we want to know the person as a whole, not the faked, non-reality of other’s lives only. Be more 3 dimensional with others on these platforms. Not just the sugar and spice and everything nice versions that we give out about ourselves.
From my little corner of life, the news is filled with disasters only because it’s what sells sponsors and air time. However, if someone is only posting the good in their lives, it’s as one sided as the evening news. Mix it up a bit and let others see you as a real person. If I have the wrong idea about this type of thing, I need to get off of social media altogether now. Excuse me while I delete my accounts.