I have heard, more than once, someone sadly indicate that Facebook (social media for old people, my son tells me) shows them how great everyone's life is, and makes them feel badly about their own.
Stop. Right. There.
Facebook started off as something very different. A college kid wanted to meet girls. Period. Now, for us old people (and a few mature-minded youngsters, too), it is a way to connect with friends and family we would not otherwise be in touch with on a daily basis. Indeed, I am superficially caught up on where most of high school classmates are in their lives, as well as distant family members who've moved away or who I'd ordinarily see once or twice a year at obligatory events (or, oh God, at funerals, which is hardly the time for a jaunty how-do-you-do). And, to be perfectly honest, I love using it to commiserate with my mother and sister over various inside jokes, and even to tease them a bit.
That said, let's be real. Years ago, some viral posts started going around that expressed something along the lines of "Don't be a complainer on social media." Okay, I'm here to tell you, that message was received loud and clear. Unless someone is a pain in the ass in large need of therapy (my sister calls them the "over-posters"), people are not sharing everything on Facebook or Instagram or whatever.
These things are modern-day photo albums. They show the very best moments we've had. That is why we share them. I do not take the bait when Facebook's status bar invites me to share how I'm doing, because, well, a lot of the time, it would be something like, "I'm a little overly anxious today and feeling gassy. Hope I don't fart in front of the kids because they'd never let me live it down."
Or, "Joe and I had a huge fight about where we should keep the spatulas."
Or, "Today I pulled a wet ball of poo out of the bathroom garbage can while Joey gagged in the next room."
Or, "The postpartum depression is lasting way longer than it probably should."
Or, "I really miss my grandparents and I think the loss of them has irreparably changed my family for both the good and the bad."
Or, "I accidentally threw away something that caused a missed opportunity for one of my kids and they were devastated and Joe was furious."
This last one is actually a big part of my life right now, because I'm starting to wonder if I'm in the early stages of dementia. It doesn't really run in my family, but I seriously pull into parking lots and can't remember why I'm there, or I drive to the completely wrong place. And when you're on the Thruway heading for downtown and realize you meant to be heading toward Angola, that's a real problem, because they're in opposite directions.
I try to create little routines for myself so I can better remember what's what, but then someone always comes along and messes it up. Really! It's so thoughtless and rude. SOMEBODY stole my phone charger from my nightstand, for example, and though I was able to procure a new one (score one point for me!) I could not seem to remember to put in my room, or on my nightstand. This is very inconvenient when each morning as you leave the house your phone's power bar is in the red, and you can't charge it in the car because...maybe that was the charger you took to replace the aforementioned stolen nightstand one.
I digress. I think at some points, I am a bit of, as my sister would say, "an over-poster," but only because I'm such an embarrassing extrovert. It shocks people to learn that I'm actually a private person and don't like people to know my business at all, but that brings me back to the point.
What we share with others is not the full sum of who and what our lives are. I'm happy when I see photos of people's beautiful children, and my heart aches when people I care about need prayers (that's actually an exception to the rule, though; I think people must realize you have to be careful with it...there are "rules" about that in itself: don't be too mysterious, don't be too frivolous in the asking, don't discount those who are suffering more, or those who are too busy to be worrying about you....yeesh!).
But for the most part, social media is a patchy, incomplete version of our lives, and we'd do well to keep that in mind. No point in comparing all that is in your heart, mind, and daily life to anything you see because it is, in essence, fake news. The real stuff is messy. It's complicated. We don't share it, but we all have it.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to do something I haven't done in years. I rode a jet-ski solo on the lake. I was worried about my healing arm (it's been months since I fractured it but it still gives me trouble), but the water was calm and I figured I could just test it out and see. I really, really wanted to go on the jet-ski. So I did. I climbed on, like I did when I was eighteen. I puttered gently out of shallow water, checked for traffic, and then, I GUNNED IT.
My hair flew back. I rode standing so I could glide off the boat waves and get some air. Arm forgotten, I swirled in 180s and let the lake water soak me. I held the throttle flush to the handle bar and I flew. And as I zoomed back toward shore, I was standing up on the jet-ski feeling powerful and amazing and, a little eighteen-ish. It was awesome. I felt like me.
I have two bits of advice for you to take away from this.
One: social media is fake news, because no one is going to tell you their whole story. Don't waste time comparing your life to the fake news.
Two: Jetskis might not be your thing, but once in awhile, remember YOU. Yourself. Do something that lifts you up and gives you the freedom to be absolutely the best part of yourself. Why? Because it will remind you that comparing and worrying is pointless.
The whole point of you is to be something nobody else can be. Get off the electronic device and go give yourself to the world in the best way you know how.