We all need a break at times.
It seemed so much easier when we were in school. Set holidays, you just worked towards that goal, eye on the prize, come hell or high water you know when that day comes you are free.
Then you become an adult, with a real job and BOOM that dangling carrot is gone. You get 3 weeks, 21 days and depending on where you work it might be even less. The challenge is to fit all your relaxation requirements into a limited amount of time. To put it in perspective, it goes from about 11 weeks down to 3, not feeling the love.
(I suppose I could throw in the parenting gig but that would just throw this whole story off topic because as we all know parents do not get holidays, well none of them longer than a few minutes anyway-those 2 seconds when you take the first sip of 2007 pinot noir from your plastic cup-because your kid managed to break all your “adult” glasses and you cannot be bothered to buy more, the brief 58 seconds you lay against the elevator door and fall asleep whilst waiting for it to stop on your floor-if you have never done it I would advise you to steer clear of that idea, your head moves with the door as it opens-who would’ve thought? And the few minutes after loading the kid in the car and running around to get to the driver side.)
As an adult (and parent) life does get overwhelming at times and it seems that social media has added fuel to that fire. Have you ever browsed through perfectly curated photos with products and thought “How will I ever live up to THAT?”
Yes? No? Maybe? Just me then?
The lines between reality and cyberspace become more and more blurry and the days of a clear distinction has gone out with yesterday’s trash. We identify with people we see on the internet, and these people are no longer only celebrities that we have carefully placed upon little pedestals in our minds. The people are everyday people, laymen, (and women) that just as easily could be you and me.
And that is what makes it destructively beautiful.
I grew up without social media, yes I am a 33-year old that can happily say that I am one of the last generations to go through my formative years free from the ways “social media wrecks self-esteem”. Facebook only made an appearance towards my final year at university, it was an exciting concept but I didn’t read too much into it.
To be honest as an introvert, it was wonderful to feel connected to the outside world without having to actually go out in it. But this new socialization brought it’s own pressures, like the desire to look good online, and to come across as funny and interesting — all struggles people have in real face-to-face interactions, but applied to a non-stop, global network of people.
Fast forward about ten years and it seems to have become a global pandemic. You not only have to look good and appear interesting, you also have to be good at things and appear to be successful and you have to have an interesting life. The watchers become more and more and more brands and advertisers are thrown into the mix.
It’s a recipe for disaster, right?
Our social media profiles are an extension of our identity-that makes our posts, pictures, and activities like virtual possessions.
That alone makes us objects for marketers who want to sell us products to make perfect photos, increase our popularity, have the nicest profile, and get the most views and likes. It’s kind of like the old “keeping up with the Jones'” trope that has neighbours out-buying each other for appearances.
It keeps us in a place where we equate self-worth with stuff, even if the “stuff” in this case, is our social media profiles.
All this started to take its toll on me a few weeks ago and I just decided to unplug for a while, and it was great but then I also realised that I have a community of people who uplift and support me on social media. A group of people that I got to know personally, that I enjoy talking to and that can lift the spirits when life gets a bit, dreary. (I guess my friend do live in my computer/phone/tablet.)
Despite all the negativity there is positivity, even if it’s just a glimmer, there is still good.
The key, I think, is to not become obsessed.
*Picture is an artwork by IHeart and appears in Stanley Park, Vancouver, Canada