Since the advent of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., we have been flooded with constant information about pretty much anything you can think of. This era is aptly coined ‘The Information Era.’ Every second your Facebook feed is flooded with status updates from your friends posting about an assortment of issues/ subject matters/ trivia.
Every second your twitter feed is abuzz with the latest updates. Every second your Instagram feed is updated with pictures posted by the people you follow there. A conclusion one can immediately discern is that: the advent of social media platforms brought in its wake an influx of information sharing networks.
What has resulted with the constant use of social media is that people have become less private about their accomplishments and their lives in general. That consequently means that you get to know intimate details about people you have not met even though you are connected on social media platforms.
I am sure you are thinking to yourself, ’’There is no harm in knowing a lot about what happens in the lives of my Facebook friends.’’ You would be right – except that you would be overlooking one important aspect – the fact that the lives of your friends as seen from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram could potentially make you feel like you are a failure and that yours is not progressing the way you would want it to.
Yes, I dropped a bombshell, I know. Let me explain by giving 3 reasons why you would feel like you are a failure by excessively following the lives of your friends on social media:
1. Achievements and Successes
Here is the thing. We all have a right to celebrate our achievements and successes. We earned them. We spent sleepless nights coming up with solutions to our ideas. We spent sleepless nights studying into the wee hours of the morning. Fact is: we have a right to celebrate our wins.
So how do people show their achievements in modern day society? They post pictures and statuses about their achievements.
When you browse through your Facebook timeline you will come across the achievement of your friend who has just graduated and they have posted pictures. You can tell how elated they are. You are of course happy for them. I mean, how can you not?!
What happens though if you have never graduated and you have always desired to graduate but due to financial constraints you couldn’t? Even though you are happy for your friend, deep down you cannot help feeling like you are a failure because you have not attained that which you have always desired : to graduate with a university degree.
It could be that as you go through your timeline you come across a friend on your timeline who is celebrating that they got a publishing deal and their book will be published. You think to yourself that it is amazing that your friend is well on their way to the ladder of success.
While on that note, you cannot help but reflect about your own life. Compared to your friend’s achievement, you feel that yours pales in comparison and you feel like you are a failure. You wonder why you haven’t found that sweet spot that will make you hit the ground running.
The problem with projected successes on Facebook is that they don’t present the full picture. By that I mean that you have no idea what your friends went through to get to where they are today. If you dug deeper you would find that they went through more strife than you could ever imagine.
But because all you see is the final product Facebook places in front of you, you cannot help but think that others are happier than you.
As human beings unfortunately, no matter how much we say we should not compare our lives to others (and really we shouldn’t, bad bad bad thing to do), sometimes we cannot help but do so. ‘’Oh wow, she graduated at 21 and I have never even set foot at a university campus. My life sucks’’ ‘’ Wow, he has been chosen as a delegate to represent South Africa. What have I done with my life?’’
These are the questions and statements that go through your mind as you cannot help but wonder why your life is not moving the way you would want it to.
Facebook makes you feel like a failure because instead of being grateful for what you have in your life, you pine for the things you do not have. Shouldn’t you be grateful for your life, your family, your friends and all the achievements you have achieved to get you to where you are today?
You might not have gone to university, but it doesn’t mean you don’t know how to start a business, for instance. You might not have been selected to be a delegate to represent your country, but you have contributed in making a difference in your community.
The point is that instead of succumbing to Facebook’s projected successes of your friends you should look at your own life and be grateful for what you have. You are alive. You have another day to make a difference and another day to try.
2. Ribbon-tied Cars
‘’Guess who has just bought a new ride?! ‘’ * Picture inserted with status update*. As you go through your timeline you see this status with the picture of a newly ribbon-tied ride. The first thing that probably comes to mind is how awesome it is that your friend has bought himself/herself a new set of wheels.
After a while you probably start looking at your own life and wondering why your life is not progressing the way you want it to. After all, you muse, you have never owned a car in your life – heck, you don’t even have a driver’s licence! You have never tasted the freedom of what it’s like to have your own car and go whenever and wherever you want to.
You ask yourself what you are doing wrong in life that is not seeing you making the same strides in getting the car of your dreams. While you are happy for your friends you cannot help but think that your life is going at a snail’s pace.
What is important to understand here is the fact that when we compare our lives to those of our friends we sell ourselves short. Yes your friend just bought herself/himself a new ride, but didn’t you just get your article published by your dream publication magazine?
The thing is when we compare our lives to those of others we forget momentarily about our own achievements and we instead focus on those of our friends. Platforms like Facebook seriously pronounce the green-eyed monster just a tad more than it would offline.
When seeing your friend’s picture on Instagram makes you feel like a failure, remember where you come from and remember what your goals are. Ultimately remember that NO ONE ever attains all they desire at the same time. Your friend could have an early start with the new ride, but you had an early start with something else too.
Congratulate your friends and mean it. Your time will come too.
3. Relationship Bliss – Whether Real or Illusory
This one is the real kicker! This one kicks where it really hurts. No one who has ever been single for a certain period could profess that they didn’t feel a tinge of envy at some point in their life. The thing is it seems that as human beings we crave for companionship. We seek it, we validate it, we betray for it, cry for it, we pray for it. Damn, we are such suckers, aren’t we?!
It has been ingrained by the society we live in that you are better and happier when you are in a relationship. When you are single and you actually enjoy your single status, you will get a constant reminder around you about why you should be in a relationship.
Facebook certainly makes you remember that your single status is frowned upon. ‘’Why aren’t you in a relationship already, ‘’it mocks. Pictures of lovely dovey couples on Facebook appear every other second on your timeline. The constant reminder that you are without a companion, no matter how happy you are with your singleville just pops right in front of you – all day every day.
You then ask yourself, ’’If my friends are blissfully in relationships and look happy, what am I missing? Why exactly am I single again?’’
You forget that you have your reasons for being single that do not allow you to settle for just anyone that comes your way.
The one thing we should remember when we see such status posts with pictures is that there are two probabilities. The first being that the people you see posting their pictures on Facebook are genuinely happy in their lives outside of the social media projection and only use that as an extension of what they already have.
The second probability is that what you see on social media is not all it seems. On social media the seemingly lovey dovey couples look happy. Outside of social media they probably don’t even see eye to eye or their relationship dynamics are so complicated that had you known what they are you would wonder what is still keeping them together.
Some people thrive on the attention they receive from the likes they get on social media. They thrive on the validation of their relationship. They need to keep up appearances so that everyone thinks they are still together. Honestly though, I don’t personally understand why anyone would go through the pains of hanging onto that which does not make them happy (but that’s just me).
So when you see people celebrating their anniversaries on Facebook, be happy for them without delving into your own life about why you are still single or why you have not found your match yet. Don’t make their happiness (whether real or not) make you feel like a failure because you don’t have a partner to share your life with.
Remember at all times that everyone has a story to tell and that for every 5 roses that paint a beautiful picture, there will always be one protruding thorn.
Take home messages…
Remember that your life goes at your own pace and that looking at the lives of those around you will make you feel like a failure if all you do is compare. You could use the successes celebrated by your friends to fuel you to work harder instead of succumbing to feelings of failure which are detrimental to your psyche.
Remember that not having a car is not the end of the world. It doesn’t mean you won’t have it at some point in your life. What you should do is take the necessary steps to get you closer to your goal of having a car.
You don’t have a license yet? Start from scratch. Take learners classes. Pass your learners and go to the next level to a driving school. Obtain your license. Once you have obtained it, celebrate it. This is YOUR achievement. It does not matter that you obtained it later than your friends. This is YOUR life. Celebrate it and move on to the next milestone.
Success in life is guaranteed if you have a clear vision of how you want to achieve that which you want to achieve and taking the necessary actions to see your vision manifest.
Relationship dynamics are as diverse as human beings themselves. What you should remember is that just because other people look happy it does not mean you should sink into a depression and wonder why you have not found bliss in relationship land. You know yourself. You know your reasons. Stick to your guns.
While social media contributes in making people feel like failures for what they think is lack of achievement on their part, the onus is on every individual to be grateful for what they have and look to their own lives to improve what they feel will take them to the next level.
Don’t allow social media to make you feel like a failure. Ever.