Years ago different earning capacities and life stages didn’t intermingle. Now everyone’s life highlights are beamed into your life via your smart phone. It’s creating unease among the ranks, those can’t ‘live the life’ desperately want to. And those enjoying life’s perks whilst uploading in real time don’t want to be criticised for life choices nor apologise for them. With over 3 million Australians suffering anxiety or depression it’s worth examining the role of social media.
“How can we fix this situation?”, is a global cry from those who live with unsettled partners who demand “We should be living the life too!” The trouble is, watching others live the life you want via social media omits all the blood, sweat and tears going on behind the scenes. And the sacrifices. And the problems.
Definition of Sacrifice: Forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of one considered to have a greater value or claim.
Everyone has such different benchmarks for living and working. Some will slog away for 20 years just to go on one dream trip. Others ‘put their head down’ for 3 months, get restless and expect to become the boss. A stressful job to one might look pretty cruisy to another. Everyone believes they work just as hard as everyone else. It’s all completely subjective. Take gender battles in the home surrounding childcare and paid work. Who has the harder job? And, why do we need to decide or judge? “If the shoe was on the other foot…!”spits a resentful new young mum to her friend about her male partner as they pushed matching newborns in prams today. “Oh Love, welcome to well-worn battles”, I wanted to lean over and say.
It’s a big issue this century, every product or service is marketed to consumers to make them believe they ‘DESERVE to have it’ What do you deserve really? It’s become a toxic word. How do you measure entitlement when so often it comes at the cost of someone else bearing your load. Boys weekend? Who’s minding the kids? Big purchases? Who’s earning the money? How do you put a value on minding your VERY OWN children? It’s a power struggle that is scarily common is most households.
What’s a workable solution when you or your partner are watching everyone they know take big trips, buy expensive homes, designer items or have once-in-a-lifetime experiences and it’s causing big problems in your household?
- Stop Comparing your life to others.
Comparing makes for miserable living because there’s always someone with more than you. You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors, their private miseries and you wouldn’t be privy to things they choose to go without to get there. Comparing is a waste of energy when everyone’s lives and setbacks are so diverse. Motivational author Charlene Johnson recommends focusing on what you CAN control and make wise decisions about them. She also recommends not getting caught in the emotional element, so if you’re on Facebook angrily comparing your life to others maybe it’s time to stop looking.
2. Stop following people on social media
Particularly if you begrudge people happy uploads, free absolutely free to unfollow them. I’ve heard snarky mentions of people even disliking kid’s award photos, wedding or even baby photos! Unless you want the ‘bah humbug’ prize, just unfollow them rather than give people a hard time. Expecting people to not post happy life moments seems mean spirited, particularly as Facebook was created for the purpose of friends to easily stay in touch.
To the snap-happy uploader, it’s difficult to know if ‘followers’ suffer anxiety or depression unless they tell you. Collectively, we are all either part of the problem or part of the solution and with this technology we’re all working it out as we go. You do, however have more control over your account if it’s private, as well as keeping numbers down to people who personally know you and support you in your journey and studies show 50% of your friends don’t actually like you!
Exercising a little sensitivity is the only reasonable request and responsibility. On a recent ski trip I made the choice to upload short video of my child screaming and whining with a caption ‘reality of ski trips with kids’. I felt happy to be on the trip but it sure wasn’t all rainbows and roses! One person’s ‘look at me’ is another person’s ‘finally saved for this handbag’, so understandably it’s tricky and a catch 22 when we’re trying to teach our kids to not care what other people think. Social media is a choice so if something makes you uncomfortable, get off or unfollow.
3. Find your own spirit and dreams
Work out what excites you but be realistic. It HAS to be within your own budget or you’re just living in La La land. More likely in Misery land when your credit card bill comes in and you can’t afford to pay it. Get out in nature and meditate and get centred. Bring a notepad! Go on a long walk, dive in the ocean or pound your pram around the pavement and think about what interests you. What do you love? what’s feasible for a short and long term plan? If your setbacks include unemployment bouts, heavy debts, divorce, work or health issues, Margie Warrell, author of Find Your Courage recommends “Reflect on the lesson the failure offers, making adjustments accordingly, then climb back on your horse!” advises Warrell.
4. Tune out on social media
Ask yourself what role social media plays in your life. Is it entertainment, keeping in touch or making yourself miserable? Know what triggers make you unsettled and make attempts to reduce them. We’re renovating our kitchen, so history tells me I can’t look at gorgeous and inspiring kitchen magazines until we are ready to knock down walls because it just makes me disgruntled with my old kitchen. Wonky cupboards aside, my old kitchen’s not THAT bad so living in ignorance is bliss. I’m certainly not going to criticise everyone else’s lovely kitchens just because mine is not where I want it to be. Get off social media if you’ve got wanderlust but you’re climbing out of debt or in a holding pattern with a new bub. Pick up a riveting book (distraction) or fill your spare time with positive messages that work for YOUR LIFE, where YOU’RE AT. Not what works for someone else, that’s like wearing someone else’s underpants.
Those old cliches are all true. You can’t have EVERYTHING. Work it out. Put your hopes and dreams on a 10 year spreadsheet and do the maths. 1+1 never equals 16 so don’t try to force it. Work out what you can sacrifice. Can you cut out breakfasts, takeaway coffees or shop-bought lunches or alcohol. Can you cut expensive clothes, books, magazines, uber rides? Is travelling the public bus or buying cheapest car brand beneath you? Can you wear clothes from vintage stores? You can bet those friends you begrudge on social media make sacrifices. They just don’t make a song and dance out of it.
Living within your means and working towards life or travel goals will taste sweeter when you put the time and the work in. We all get bored and think existential thoughts like ‘what’s it all for?’ Maybe that’s why your friend posts excitable, happy travel selfies, have you ever thought that? They might have booked a trip in their darkest hour of despair while they’re going through something tough and appreciate what it’s taken them to get there.
Be your own person, it’s more attractive that way. Don’t worry what everyone else is doing and always think happy thoughts, people…Happy thoughts.