The Good Side

When I log into Facebook someone is a) Getting married, b) Having a baby, c) In Paris, d) Graduating with a PhD or all of the above. Anyone else just feeling bored and kind of mediocre about life?

With social technology, we have countless ways to project the best versions of ourselves. We curate a life worth posting about in filtered images, epic posts and hilarious tweets, leaving the rest on the cutting room floor. We assume nobody wants to hear about those mundane, uncomfortable, and even tragic parts of our days, but this tendency to present only our “good side” leaves us all feeling pretty bad.

It’s much easier to share the positive than to make yourself vulnerable and reveal something not so great. I get it. But, I do think we need to be more thoughtful about the way we present ourselves online. These days, many of us communicate with friends and family via text and social media, and when all they see are birthday celebrations, cupcake indulgences and nights on the town, they assume everything is fine and even that their own lives aren’t measuring up. Many of us are left feeling isolated in our less fortunate moments (breakups, layoffs, bad days with the kids) because there is this expectation that we should be feeling good all the time.

Even when we are speaking of our achievements, we’re usually only presenting half the story (skipping over the sleepless nights and near divorces that led us to that promotion); we perpetuate half-truths in order to make us feel better about ourselves. The greatest loss of all is that we miss out on those connections that come from the best kinds of suffering. The kind that makes us dig deep, question our beliefs, and reshape our lives.

The author Hugh MacLeod says it best,

Anyone can be an idealistAnyone can be a cynic. The hard part lies somewhere in the middle. That is being human.”

I’m not saying we need to air all our dirty laundry on the internet, but if social media is here to stay, we need to find a way to be more human online. If this is our new community, let’s be honest with each other and make it a place that not only “likes” us in our shining moments, but also supports us during those gray areas – that hard part in the middle.

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10 comments

  1. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. And, I think that developing a like-minded community that is honest and encouraging with one another is definitely the antidote to what technology gets its flaque for.

  2. Great post Maryn. This is an important topic. I have similar concerns and challenges. I mostly share positive stuff on social and my blog, part because I choose to be an inspiration, yet once in a while I feel the need to be real and share the pain, challenges, etc. In fact, I recently wrote a post called Keeping it Real and a related one called Pain Body.
    http://writingtofreedom.wordpress.com/2014/05/08/keeping-it-real/

    Ultimately, I believe sharing with the intent to connect and help others are good criteria as are your 3 questions (true, necessary and kind). blessings, Brad

    1. Your post was really thought-provoking. I’ve been trying to be more transparent about the whole of my experience (not just the happy ending). It’s valuable to show the process of getting there because it’s grappling with the hard stuff that gets us through to the good side.

      1. Thanks. Yes, facing our challenges grows our capacities to be. And sharing our struggles connects us on a more intimate level. Thanks for being you and transparent. 🙂

  3. Agree. This grand era of social media allows us more than ever to take a peak into other people’s lives. What we see is great, it’s beautiful and we start longing for that kind of life too. This builds up to this bubble where everybody is presenting a different reality and we start doing it too. In the mean time, we are losing sight of life, we forget to connect with people. Loved reading this 🙂

    1. Yes, exactly. It should be about making connections, but oftentimes it leaves me feeling isolated. I think the key is to be aware of how we are using social media and whether it is really adding to our lives or subtracting from it. Sometimes those endless feeds of pretty pictures are inspiring and other times it is just a major buzz kill, and I would be better off reading a book, going for a walk, or talking to a friend. Thank you for your insightful comment!

  4. Excellent post. I know I’ve struggled with that on my blog but since I’ve started being more honest about the stuff in the middle, I’ve felt a real connection with people. That middle ground is tough to find, but you’re right. If social media is our new community we need to figure out how to make it more real so people don’t get so depressed with it. Thanks for sharing. Great stuff.

    1. I struggle with it too, especially in the blogging world where most things are picture perfect. I came across this great quote that says, “Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates. Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?” It helps bring me back to center when I lose my way 🙂

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