The curated lives of others

​On a beach. At a party. Eating out.

That’s all you see. It makes your life pale in comparison. You know they’re not doing it to make you feel bad. But it does. 

Their life seems so great. Their life seems so interesting, so exciting. Yours? Boring.

Our presence on social media, on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp and Snapchat is only a small percentage of our whole existence. Maybe five percent? Perhaps that’s too much even. But often, it’s all we see. So the perception we have of other people’s lives is based off of this mis-representative sample.

Due to the wonderful capacities of our minds, we see what others present to us and extrapolate to think that the rest of their life must be like that.

It’s as if they make the first few brush strokes and we finish off the painting. We think that the pictures they post and the updates they write are the norm, the everyday occurrences in their lives. 

Nope.

Our online lives are highlight reels. They show the best of the best. We share our most exciting, interesting, funny, intense moments. Nobody wants to hear about a boring day at the office. Nobody wants a picture of your dog throwing up on the carpet. Nobody wants to know about your toilet being blocked.

Social media is where we showcase what others want to see. We don’t want to see the mundane, the everyday, the average. We get enough of that.

So we end up in this vicious cycle where, because nobody wants to be seen as boring, we go out of our way to seem interesting, and as a consequence, we all end up thinking everyone else’s lives are amazing and ours are drab.

It’s no surprise then that spending too much time on Facebook et al makes you miserable. You’re scrolling through, comparing your life with the carefully curated lives of others.

It’s even worse when you follow people who you don’t actually know. People who are successful, wealthy, handsome, who meet interesting people and do fascinating work all day long.

But what you have to remember as you refresh the newsfeed endlessly is that life isn’t what’s showcased on social media.

Life is, for the most part, unremarkable. It’s not an endless rollercoaster of ups and downs and twists and turns. We deal with the same situations, we do the same things, go to the same places, meet with the same people.

It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s okay. Because without the normal we couldn’t appreciate the unusual. Without the everyday, we couldn’t appreciate the special moments when they do come around.

But when we base our expectations for our lives on the beautiful collages of images, videos and updates we see online, we set ourselves up for a fall. A big one.