Every morning, like millions of Americans, I start my day by tuning into the news, enjoying a cup of coffee, glancing through emails, and checking my social media accounts. I am already in touch with thousands of other social media “friends” or users by looking through my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. I have a chance to wish friends Happy Birthday via reminders, view posted musings about politics and global news, and smile back at posted photos. So in a nutshell; every morning I have already exposed myself to thousands of others putting their best foot out there. Every morning I have already challenged and compared myself to what others have showcased to the world via their social media accounts.
Social media is a main connecting point for millions of users. Its a way I can stay in touch with former college friends, past work colleagues, and acquaintances along the way. I see my friends posting their accomplishments of new jobs, promotions, engagement announcements, amazing feats of cooking accomplishments, nights out socializing, fitness milestones, new children, and in my age demographic (31), lots of photos of their young children doing adorable things. I am single, currently job searching, recently moved, and also not: with a cute child to share, engagement photo album, craftathon, 8 layer creation, or more to showcase to the world at this time. So by my own standards of being “enough” and perfectionism; by engaging in social media every morning I have already established I am less than others. I am allowing myself to believe that I am not enough and not living the ideal perfection life I had sought out to live.
So I have to ask myself….Is Social Media fostering my own inadequacies, quest to perfection, journey to break through the façade of perfectionism? Is social media making me feel less than? Is this an overwhelming factor in our society that we are breeding these feelings of inadequacy and creating a measuring stick of where our lives should be?
In an interview between legendary talk show host Oprah Winfrey and renounced shame researcher Dr. Brene Brown, Winfrey talks about her aha moment with perfectionism. Dr. Brown tells Oprah. “It’s… a way of thinking and feeling that says this: ‘If I look perfect, do it perfect, work perfect and live perfect, I can avoid or minimize shame, blame and judgment.’ Winfrey had the following to respond to Brown’s statement of perfectionism.
“This was my other aha [moment]!” Oprah says, giving Dr. Brown a high-five. “Perfectionism is the ultimate fear… People who are walking around as perfectionists… They are ultimately afraid that the world is going to see them for who they really are and they won’t measure up.”
So in an essence, social media is a way to foster the image of a having a perfect life. Its a cultural identity crisis to mold what we want our social media friends to see. Its how we want the world to perceive our world to be. I am guilty of this too. I frequently post my runs with the Nike Run App. In my mind its a part of holding myself accountable to achieving these goals and allowing others to encourage and celebrate in my victories. To play devil’s advocate there is not a chance in hell I am going to post anything about having a day filled with overindulging in food, and non gumption to exercise. After all, this would make me human and showcase to the world what I perceive as an imperfection. Its the same way that I would not put up an unflattering photo of myself as a selected profile picture. I too am the person that crops the best photo of myself, uses instagram, and chooses to put that image of myself out there. I own this.
So I have to ask if being authentic and human is putting it all out there, what IS the appropriate way to showcase yourself via social media? What are the ways to combat feelings of inadequacies via social media usage? How do we show empathy for an individual sharing a struggle via social media without judgment? How do we engage in social media as a way to connect, share ideas, and enjoy our celebrations of life as well as our own? How do we put down the measuring stick?