Since the explosion of social media, it feels like all we’ve been doing is analyzing photos, captions and comments to figure out what is and is not real in other people’s lives.
One woman stole a pretty well-known photo of a woman on yacht (it was from the neck down) and blasted it all over Facebook with a caption about how hard she had worked to get where she was. But it was all a lie.
How do I know? I may or may not have gone to high school with her, and may or may not have had a friend do a Google image search to find it’s one of the most stolen photos on social media.
But you do you, boo.
And even with body positivity moments and discussions about mental health being championed online, what happens offline?
Would those same people not judge bold bikini-clad women without the “perfect” body or keep answering the phone for a friend battling depression?
How sincere are we to live our Instagram lives offline? How willing are we to do that with the people in our lives?
Who Are We Really Doing LiFe With?
A former pastor of mine, Jarrid Wilson, lost his life to suicide. From the outside looking in, it appeared that his beautiful family had it all, even as Jarrid was so open about his struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts.
His openness was praised, and he created a space for thousands upon thousands of people on Twitter and Instagram and the churches he pastored.
The glory seemed to come from that he had “made it to the other side” of his depression though. He filled other people with so much hope, but the Enneagram 4 in me, always wondered what was missing from the conversation — what wasn’t he telling people?
Because there’s a boundary that some people on the internet aren’t willing to pass over — there’s a point when you’re being a little too real about:
How dark and lonely the days inside your head really are
When you and husband last slept in the same room
Wanting to stay away on your work trip instead of coming home to your kids
Being single at a certain age and the reality that you might not be able to have kids
Feeling so alone, even though you’re surrounded by so many people
People want you to be honest, but not that honest.
They want to be involved in your life from a distance and offer occasional encouragement, but the day in and day out truths may be too much.
Gary Vee says,
“Social media hasn’t changed people. It’s just made them more of who they are.”
I would say that’s pretty accurate.
For the opinionated uncle who wants to argue about the last election, there’s a space for him.
For the insecure woman who wants people to believe that she’s skinnier and wealthier than she is, there’s a photo on the internet to steal instead of a cheap designer bag knock off.
For the acquaintances who want to say that you’ll have to get lunch but will definitely not make it happen, there’s a photo for you to like but never comment on.
And often, what people struggle with the most is what they talk about online.
So, how do we live life together better?
Offer an ear and a shoulder to cry on, but leave out the advice — unless they ask.
Don’ tell someone that their feelings or what’s happening in their life is “a lot to process”. Ask them questions about how it makes them feel or want to do.
Call more often, just because.
Instead of only communicating through social media, write a letter or email, or at the very least, send a text.
Follow up with friends who’ve been having a hard time. Set a reminder if you have to.
If you see a friend post about a hard time, reach out offline.
Ask for help from a friend, which subconsciously signals to them that they can inturn ask you for help and you’re someone who can be there in a time of need.
And if there’s a situation that’s out of your comfort zone, you can find helpful answers and resources from the Crisis Text Line for you and your loved one.
At the end of the day, it comes down to showing up. We can’t show up for everyone, but who are we showing up for?
How are we making space to allow our people and ourselves, free to be open about how things truly are for us?
Are we matching our Instagram reality with our real lives?
And more than that, do we even want to?
If you or someone you know is experiencing depression and/or suicidal thoughts, text the Crisis Text Line at 741741.