We all see the photos.
You know, those photos that depict the perfect life someone else is living.
Those photos of beautiful sunrises. Those photos of the legs on the beach. Those photos of nights out with friends. Those photos of perfect families, all smiling and joyful and happy. Those photos of food. Oh, those photos of food. The ‘amazing’ smashed avo for breakfast, the ‘delightful’ quinoa salad for lunch, and the ‘huge’ burger for dinner. OMG. Like. Like. Like.
We’ve all seen these photos. They pop up all the time.
And as we sit on our couches scrolling through our phones, feeling sorry for our self and jealous of our so-called friends, I wonder whether we care about the other side…?
Because there is another side.
This other side is the side of people we don’t see while traversing the inter-webs through the 5 different social media apps we have on our phone.
It’s the side of sadness, unhappiness, anxiety, hurt, and brokenness.
A little while ago I was struck by how social media changes my perception the relationship I have with others. I noticed one morning one of my friends was with a new partner. I was stopped in my tracks. The last time I saw a photo they were with their spouse and kids, looking happy. Yet, here in front of me is this person with another partner. It was a bit of a shock.
It’s not a shock because of the relationship breakdown. No, relationships fail and marriages breakdown, that’s not the shocking part. The shocking part is that I felt I was in a position where I could reach out and ask how they were.
In reality I haven’t seen this person in over 10 years. We’ve got no real relationship. Yet, because of the way social media comes at you it makes you feel like you know them, and know them well. What kind of response would they have if I did reach out?
“Oh, you’ve been stalking me on social media”.
“Oh, you’re not really a friend but more an acquaintance, and now you want the goss on what’s happened to my relationship”?
“I haven’t heard from you in 10 years and now you want to connect because something seems to have gone wrong. In my world it’s been heading that way for over 12 months and this is the end result, which every one of my actual friends knows about”.
None of this comes across well.
We all have friends who we haven’t physically seen in years, and have nothing to do with them outside of our digital world. Yet, because of the nature of social media we find ourselves believing we’re closer to people than we actually are. What we perceive on social media may well be what is happening at the time, but underneath there’s a lot more going on.
There’s always another side.
And so, I wonder whether we actually care about those ‘friends’ with whom we have no outside relationship with?
Where are those friends of ours who don’t post?
Do we think of them?
Do we touch base with them?
Do we care enough to like them too?