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Columnists > Flavia Holman

Flavia Holman

Why You Shouldn't Believe Everything You See On Social Media

  Posted Monday April 18, 2016 (12:12:27)   (5185 Reads)
I love social media. Technology is evolving so much and I love how we have platforms, such as Instagram, WhatsApp and Pinterest to connect not only with family and friends, but with people that enjoy the same things that we do. There is no way that things will go back to where they were before, of course not, why would it? I'm sure some people did not like very much when the telephone was invented, but where are we now?

Mobile computers that we carry around are like an extension of our own body... I'm guilty as charged.

Has it happened to you that you start to follow someone on Instagram or read someone's blog and all of a sudden you think that you know that person and everything about her/him? I know I have. Well, your mind plays games with you. Of course you don't know everything about this person. You might have come across an article this person wrote, that resonated with the moment you are living now, so you check the person out, they have a Facebook page, you become friends or you follow her on Instagram and they have the most wonderful life, or so you think.

Imagine this:

This imaginary person is a normal person just like you and me. She happens to work in an office, let's say her name is Clara. Clara hates her job, but it's social media and her account is not private, so she can't really say that she hates her job, imagine if her boss or a colleague sees it... But you do know that she works in an open space office from an Apple computer because she posted pictures of her desk. Not only that, but it was sunny and she went out during lunch time for a walk and took photos of her salad (after she'd eaten her fatty sandwich and chips). She didn't take photos of the bees trying to attack her at the park, or that she couldn't find a clean bench to sit on.

Moving on, Clara has a few but good friends who like to go out all the time. Clara shows how much fun she has, but doesn't show that she charges everything on her credit card and she is full of debt because she is trying to keep up with her friends. The same goes on the trips she takes that year, she saved every penny that she had and she posts pictures of that wonderful trip she took. You don't know that she got mugged in Berlin or that she missed her flight because she couldn't wake up or that she was sweating like hell during her visit to Dubai, but she did take a picture of her laptop at the beach and the caption was: "working in Dubai". Clara doesn't want her social feed to be a drag, we all have problems and no one would follow her if she did.

Do you blame Clara? I don't.

Clara is doing what millions of people do, posting pictures of what makes her happy. One day she will look back and remember her vacation to Dubai, tell stories about Berlin and maybe to her family and closest friends she will talk about the job that she hates.

We live life on our terms, no one besides yourself knows what goes on in your own mind, until you decide to let it out, by either telling a close friend or exposing it to the world in social media.

So, where is the balance?

That's for you to decide. You look at your phone 100 times a day, you post tweets, photos, etc. You also check out other people's feeds and you should be aware that just because I live in Germany and I post about me exploring Germany it doesn't mean that my life is better than yours. We all pretty much lead our lives in the same manner, we work, take care of our families and try to have fun while doing it all.

Expats everywhere are travelling and leading their lives, and believe it or not, there is probably an expat who has moved to your town and is exploring the streets you take for granted, taking pictures and posting to Facebook. It's not about where you are in the world or what you do for a living, it's about you living a fulfilled life.

I love Instagram, and love looking at people's pictures, but I also know (and try to always remember, even though sometimes I forget) that there are always things we don't know about people's lives and what I see is only a tiny little portion of it. It's not easy to always think like that, it is just like television. Why would you believe that what happens in soap operas is real? You wouldn't. Even what happens in the so called "Reality TV" is not real, it's all scripted. I have to say that I was very disappointed when I found out about that... yeah, I thought reality TV was real, but it's not.

Social media is not evil

Just like the above is true, on social media you only see what people want you to see. I know a lot of people who will show their messy houses and how they ruined the cake they were baking, and I love, love, love accounts like these, which show a little reality with some fun in it. They wake me up from the dreamland of social media.

Why not? Life isn't perfect, nobody's is. We all know that, but we forget and then we get upset because our life isn't as perfect as the other person's. Our minds have a way of absorbing what they see and sooner or later you are comparing your life to the "perfect" one on the other side of the screen.

This is what my living room looks like right at this minute. The movers came last week, the day before we traveled, we arrived yesterday and worked a lot, but this is still left to be done:

And just so you know, I posted a similar photo on Instagram of my kitchen, we were trying to organize it right after the movers left... It was... interesting...

Social media is great, I love it, I love seeing what's going on with my family with my friends. When they go on trips, I travel with them, when they get married or get a new job I feel like I'm part of it, and celebrate it with them.
Social media is here to stay, but we all should use it wisely. Keep that in mind and focus more on your life than on other people's. It will be worth it.

Flavia Holman
Flavia is originally from Brazil, but has been an expat for 20 years. Having lived as many years in her country of origin as overseas, Flavia currently lives in her adoptive country, the USA and wouldn't change it, although it's about to change.
Through her life and moving around the world, Flavia has worked in hospitality, technology and relocation, but now she is starting on a new journey accompanying her husband in his new job. Flavia mostly writes about what it takes to be an expat and how to ease the transition while moving with kids. You can follow Flavia's adventures on her blog and Instagram.

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