The other day, while browsing on Facebook as I normally do in the bathroom -- I mean, a few times a day -- I came across a picture of a 2-year-old (the son of a friend) on a skateboard. Riding it. I knew it was wrong as I let my brain wander, but I couldn't help it. My 4-year-old couldn't do that yet, not even for a fraction of a second. What's wrong with my kid? I wondered, if this 2-year old can balance, but mine can't? I was in that dark cloud for about 10 seconds before I snapped out of it, convincing myself that this was just an amazing shot,and that right before, his dad was positioning him on the board, and immediately after, he fell, was crying and needed to be consoled by his mom.
Keeping up with Joneses has been part of our society for some time, but with social networking on the rise with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., the number of "Joneses" we have to compare ourselves to has expanded profusely. When people log onto these sites to post, evidently, they put on their rose-colored glasses as well. Consider the posts, pictures and status updates you've seen recently: happy times, parties, new homes, renovations, new car, exotic vacations. The list goes on. Have you come across any posts that tell you how hard it is to make ends meet? The rough patch in a marriage? The new roof that's needed? The child that needs major surgery?
I started to worry that I was falling victim to this Internet optimism, trying to live up to these amazing lives, achievements and stories of my Facebook friends. As it turns out, I'm not the only one who feels this pressure. According to one statistic I found, one in five Facebook and Twitter users admit they compare themselves to others "based purely on the status updates, pictures and messages from their 'friends' on social media sites." I wonder how many of those 20% were moms, trying to live up to the supermom status that so many of us spend countless hours feeling guilty over never really achieving. Honestly, I felt that way after seeing the skateboarding picture. That wasn't the first time, and I'm sure won't be the last, either. It crossed my mind that if I did post things that weren't as amazing, I would be scrutinized in the opposite way. When someone posts how they're feeling ill, it's been called "attention whoring." It's a very sharp double-edged sword.
It's my conclusion then, that pictures can lie. They don't tell the whole story. And just like movies need to have a disclaimer, perhaps Facebook and sites like it should too: All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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