We met for coffee to talk about life, careers and aspirations. She, a recent graduate who had hopped out of the gate at full speed with a great starting position in publishing, a promising fashion blog, and a rising persona on the event and socialite scene, and me, the slightly older, creative, and restless writer carving her own path.
All the cards seemed to be falling into place for her–until a wrench was thrown into the plans: a restructuring online publication and subsequent lay-off. I wasn’t sure that I would have much wisdom to offer, after all, I was still figuring life out myself. But, I definitely had to steer her clear of the ‘why not me’ thought trap.
“It’s just that….when I look on Facebook, and see what everyone else is up to…” She trailed off. Or maybe it was me that cut her off.
“Don’t look at Facebook!” I nearly shouted, a little more emphatically than intended.
I didn’t mean to yell, but I was talking as much to myself as I was to her; reprimanding the both of us.
Why do we do it to ourselves? Dissect the lives of our cyber “friends” so that we know more about them than we ever needed to? Why do we constantly check status updates, peruse photo albums that we will never leave a comment on, and follow people on twitter that we will never retweet? And even….*lame alert* discuss said updates with other people but never with the actual person doing the posting?
“Listen,” I told her. “Don’t believe the hype.”
Everyone is struggling with something, and is faced with unappealing aspects of their daily life. We may see exciting news that they choose to post and update us on, but keep in mind that no one ever posts the bad news. And if they do choose to clutter our timeline with negative or mundane factoids about their day, we quickly banish them from the newsfeed and accuse them of being a Debbie Downer. So what are we left with? Constant reminders of how great everyone else’s life is.
This is not to say we can’t be happy with our lives if someone else is flourishing. I don’t believe that anyone needs to lack, so I can gain. But comparing our experiences to anyone else’s is just not healthy–period.
The other night, I went to NY Running Company to get fitted for new sneakers. As I went through the endless boxes of shoes the sales guy brought out for me, I couldn’t help but glance at the shoes he was letting another customer try on.
“Can I see those?” I asked, pointing to her pile.
“You have different feet.” He said plainly.
It’s just that simple. We all have different lives. The grass may look greener on the other side, but it’s really the same grass. Everything balances out and you never truly know what another person had to go through to get where they are today, or what they deal with day in and day out.
Until I start seeing photo albums with titles like: “BET AWARDS: The Night I Picked Up All the Stars’ Towels” or “ROME: The Trip I Went Into Debt For,” I will not be taking my cyber “reality” too seriously or using it as a litmus test for my success. So gone are my days of living vicariously through Facebook. The ‘F’ is for Facade.