Exotic adventures. Shiny, happy couples. Spotless kitchens. Sunshine. The places to be. Smiles. Filters. Filters. Filters. Perfection.
'[Insert name of acquaintance/celebrity/blogger/trend-setter] is eating the most delicious looking [insert trendy food] at [insert trendy restaurant] and her [insert trendy outfit] is so [insert trendy phrase]. And her selfie with [insert husband/boyfriend/bff/celebrity/trend-setter] is perfection; they look like they are having such a great time at [insert trendy event].'
Compare. Compare. Compare.
Can I tell you something?
The age of social media has caused extreme discontentment and jealousy in our lives. Keeping up with the Joneses has become Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and I don't know about you, but I'm not rich and famous for being rich and famous. I don't come home to a million dollar house and neither does the majority of the world. I don't arrive at extravagant parties in a fancy car, wearing an expensive dress. In fact, my car is on it's last leg and I'm pushing to get every mile out of it I can. And not only do I not go to extravagant parties, but I rarely go to any parties.
I want to take it one more level, because I think most of the world is ok with the fact that they're not foolishly wealthy. Pinterest can show me how to keep my house spic and span, how to get toned thighs, how easy it is to make an awesome birthday cake, and 100 tips to improve my relationship with my husband. But I don't do those things either. My house isn't always clean, I don't have toned thighs, and I can't always make an awesome birthday cake. Also? My husband is really amazing but we argue constantly. Ask anyone that knows us.
Instagram shows us what all our "friends" are out doing and the fact that we are missing out. And the fear of missing out causes stress because we want to be current, and do what our friends are doing. We want to have those memories so that we can look back and say, "look at all the things we did and how happy we were."
Joyful moments can't be enjoyed when we have to stop and share it with the Internet. A deep discussion over a meal can't be a deep discussion when we have to stop to see who's tweeting. We can't date and fall in love without swiping left because 'this just isn't enough,' and 'I need something more'. We can't grasp face-to-face interaction with someone who needs our attention when we are pulled to the screen for mindless entertainment.
'But I need to get some ideas for how to do [xyz]. I know there's a tutorial for it on YouTube. There's 5 minutes before my appointment so I'll just scroll through [insert social media].'
They are all excuses. We turn to our phones because we don't want to experience awkward or intense or deep.
Can I tell you something? About the hard stuff?
It's worth it. We all experience the hard stuff, but we hide it so the watchful eyes of the Internet can't see it. Through awkward situations we learn be be humble. In intense times we discover our passions. Deep moments expose vulnerability, which allows us all to be real with each other.
When you decide to put down your phone and close your laptop, you open up an opportunity. What can you do with that time? Clear your mind and refocus, catch up with an old friend, volunteer. Until we can realize, and truly realize, that we don't need the validation of likes or retweets, and that a real connection isn't through a screen, we are going to continue striving for a perfection that doesn't exist. Perfection doesn't exist. It's time to stop reaching for a lie and just live.