If you're a millennial and reading this article, there's a good chance you participate in social media and constantly have an internet source within five feet of you. In documenting vacations, nights out with friends, trips to Starbucks, etc., we create somewhat of a double life through our accounts. Over the past few years, social media has gained an undeniable power. I am just as guilty as the next person; this article is not meant to chastise or accuse, but to call attention to the vortex of fake happiness our generation has fallen into. I'll be the first to admit that my friends and I find ourselves agonizing over what filters to use, tediously editing pictures with multiple apps, and waiting for "prime Insta hours" to post in order to receive the highest number of likes.
Personally, I can cite times that I've put more brain power into working on a picture, highlighting details, adjusting the contrast, and tweaking our figures, than on a homework assignment. I notoriously post excessively long Snapchat stories on a fun night out, to show my world of followers and friends the great times I have. Bad day? That's the perfect opportunity to upload a selfie and bask in the validation you receive as the number of likes skyrockets. Missing someone? You better post a #TBT so that everyone knows how much they mean to you. It's your friend's birthday? You know damn well that the friendship isn't real if you don't design a social media tribute professing your love. While ferociously editing a picture, a dear friend once said to me, "If you're happy on Instagram, then you're happy in real life."
However, the reality of that statement proves far from true.
Our college-student lives contain a number of exasperating factors. From a heavy class and work load, to mental health issues, to worrying about financial problems, no one can argue that our generation holds uniqueness in what we have on our plates. Life has thrown me my fair share of troubles and obstacles, yet I rarely, if at all, share them on social platforms. Multiple friends comment on how "fun" and "carefree" my life appears, based solely on the content of my social media profiles. The facade created by tremendous volumes of likes, shares, and retweets masks the reality of the struggles people face on a daily basis. We devote copious amounts of time and energy to making sure we look our most attractive and content, despite what may be going on behind the screen.
Today, societal expectations call for incessant updates on who you're with and what you're doing. I've caught myself feeling genuinely sad and left out upon viewing pictures on various social media platforms of outings I received no invite to. The disappointment of not being included and watching friends enjoying themselves without you only increases the stress of attempting to keep up with the trend.
So why do we do it? Why do we dwell upon sharing every detail of our lives with the world? Instead of posting a story on Snapchat, why not just enjoy the moment with the people you hold so close?
Perhaps just to fuel our egos and boost our confidence. Maybe it's an attempt to hide how we really feel. The one thing I'm certain of is that absolutely nobody's life is as flawless as it seems online, and reminding ourselves of that is imperative to working towards our self-actualization. The value of an experience can never truly be captured by a filter and caption. The standard by which we measure value has been skewed by what is expected of us by the anticipation of our followers and generation as a whole. Don't edit that picture; appreciate how you look and what you're feeling in that instant. Cherish each memory built and keep it in your heart for as long as your mind allows you. Theodore Roosevelt once said, "Comparison is the thief of joy," and I wholeheartedly agree. Whether your latest post earns 10 or 1,000 likes, it plays no part in defining your intelligence, kindness, or character. Only you can do that.