Social media has become such a huge part of our generation. Whether it be Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat, VSCO, Pinterest, the list goes on and on. Every day we see people who seem to have the perfect lives. Their Instagram feeds are ideal according to society’s standards nowadays. We see a girl in her twenties flaunting her perfect body in a bikini, happy as can be on a beach. Or we see the most perfect "candid" picture of a beautiful young girl laughing. Maybe we see the cutest couple kissing and exhibiting the so-called "couple goals." Or sometimes we see a group of guys out at a party having the time of their lives. But what we don’t realize is that these are just pictures; they are only small moments of someone’s life.
Maybe that girl in her twenties with the "ideal" and "perfect" body has been battling an eating disorder for years, and is more insecure than ever. Maybe that beautiful, young girl in the candid picture is battling depression and wants everyone to think she’s happy as can be. Maybe that cute couple fights every day and breaks up at least once a week. Or maybe that group of guys abuse alcohol every weekend because they don’t know how to have fun without it. The thing is that you don’t know. You don’t know someone’s life or what they’re going through just by following their social media accounts.
As a society, we choose what we post on social media. Yes, I know that seems like an obvious statement, but really think about it. We choose what we want our peers and other people we may not even know, to see. A majority of us, even myself, want others to think we are happy, stable, and content with our lives. And to do so, we "prove" it through social media.
Just over two years ago, on the evening of January 17, 2014, 19-year old, Madison Holleran, took her own life. Madison was an absolutely stunning, young girl who ran track at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn). Madison seemed like she was having the time of her life during her first year at UPenn; her Instagram feed was filled with pictures of her out with friends, running track at school, and beautiful selfies of her smiling so brightly it’d be impossible to think she was unhappy with herself. In an ESPN article about Madison’s life, posted about a year and a half after her death, it stated that she was, “someone who was aware of the image she presented to the world, and someone who often struggled with that image conveyed about her, with how people superficially read who she was, what her life was like.” Madison, like many other people, wanted everyone to think she was perfectly content with her life even though she wasn’t. She had been seeing a therapist for a couple months and was having a hard time; she was battling anxiety and now looking back, is thought to have had depression.
After reading Madison's story, it's important to realize that we need to take the time to actually get to know people and see how they are. Ask your friends how they're doing. It is so important to make sure your loved ones are okay because our time with them is limited. One of your closest friends could be struggling and you may not even know it. Asking someone how their day is going or just simply smiling at a stranger could make their day. The smallest act of kindness could turn someone's whole day around and you might not even know it.
Stories like Madison’s prove that we do not know someone’s life based on their Instagram feed, or social media account. We never know what someone is going through or what their home life is like just because we see their posts on social media. So next time you judge someone based off their Instagram feed or their Snapchat stories, think. What people are posting on social media is what they want us to see; it is an edited, small moment of their life, not their life story.