Whenever I visit Facebook to see my “friends” depicted in happy and positive photographs, my heart grows heavy–it deflates into sadness and a bit of jealousy. My Facebook “friends” appear to be leading exciting, adventurous, or action-filled lives–or so it seems.
I can’t help be peek through the social media window to see my acquaintances enjoy themselves with family and friends at various locations, such as restaurants, theme parks, sporting events, museums, etc. Everyone seems to be living a fun live. She has a boyfriend. He has a girlfriend. They have many friends, so they must be popular. Not quite. Not everything I see on Facebook and other social networking sites reflect reality at its fullest–people post pictures what they want the public to see.
It accords to Erving Goffman’s theory of self-presentation. In his book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, he explains and believes we perform roles that fit a specific situation as we wear a “mask” depicting our role in that context. Sometimes, we are forced to wear multiple masks simultaneously when people from various areas of our lives intersect. Thus, we have no identifiable performer, leading him to believe we carry no true self, but the roles we play are the performer.
Watch the YouTube video below to get an idea:
Our masks are like clothes: we wear a specific mask to express our feelings and thoughts, with our mood dictating our attitude. Oftentimes, I feel that my Facebook acquaintances are leading more exciting lives than me, but they may not be, at all, more better.
Sure, they may have traveled to various cities and countries, eaten at new and exotic restaurants, visited famous spots, watched or participated in televised sports, but that doesn’t equate to living a better, happier, or fulfilling lifestyle. Some people may not like to travel (it’s fun, at first, but grows tiring after a few months or years), or dine out (they prefer cooking at home), or visit museums (for some, museums bore them), or watch and play sports (perhaps, they prefer artistic performances). I must always remember that not everything people post is what it seems.
It would amaze me to learn from my Facebook acquaintances if what they posted on-line was inconsistent with reality. I don’t compare myself to others because I will begin to belittle my self-worth, ignore my God-given talents and abilities, and lose focus of my own circumstances. I do wonder, though: What lifestyle do these people lead? I must learn the daily struggles and challenges they face to understand who they are. Everyone faces challenges–the difference lies in how we endure them.
I need to focus on myself and attend to my own needs, not selfishly, but unconcerned with comparing my life to theirs. After learning someone’s life story with their problems and obstacles, I’ll realize it does not match my perception.