A Mental Life
Have you ever scrolled down Facebook and felt “icky” afterwords? There’s a reason for that. We often feel the need to lead our lives glazing over the “cracks” in who we are. We feel trapped by the inability to express our deepest frustrations, failures, insecurities or weaknesses. In an age of social media, all we can do is show our vibrant social lives plastered with smiles in the happiest of times. We’re linked in to each “like” we get and the subsequent hits of dopamine to our brains.
We’re physiologically wiring our brains for the instantaneous and transitory need of external validation.
On the other hand, I look to Facebook, Instagram and other social media for inspirational messages, news and to share in the lives of my friends and family. In many ways, it’s helpful. There’s nothing wrong with sharing our moments of joy with our extended social networks. However, for me, as someone who experiences times of “funks” or downright depression, social media is not always my friend. On some level, social media has taught me that not all parts of myself are acceptable. What about those moments that we feel are not Facebook worthy? We dropped the ball at work. We failed on our diet. We didn’t stick to our commitments. We didn’t do what we said we’d do.
Facebook amplifies this disconnect between the image we show to the world and the person we can be in quiet moments.
Who are we when we are not crafting the perfect narrative of ourselves to share with the world? Is that person still worthy of love, acceptance and respect? Sometimes, it doesn’t feel that way when for the majority of the day we are plugged in to seeing the veneer of perfection in the lives of others.
What happens when we’re struggling personally but link into the perfection of others’ Facebook profiles? We might not love our husband or wife. We might feel that the demands of life are driving us to our wits end. We may be in a job that feels like it’s going nowhere. We might be experiencing feelings of depression. We may be struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction. The list is endless. Where do these “cracks” in our lives fit into the realm of our social images and persona? We’ve placed Facebook and social media at the crux of expressing who we are within our social lives. It’s become a place wherein we present everything from the random thought, to deeply held beliefs, the birth of a child and even the loss of a family member.