Social media has exacerbated our human habit of comparisons.
Essentially what we're doing is comparing our background footage to someone else's highlight reel. Social comparison theory states that we do this in order to evaluate ourselves.
But the yardstick we're measuring ourselves up with is not real, or true, or accurate. It's heavily censored life.
Sure people do love to show you what they ate, tell you they just brushed their teeth or recount a horror story in the hope of being showered with public sympathy... But what about the other stuff?
The fear of failure, the low self worth, the guilt, the embarrassment, the shame and regret? Or simply the poetry of mediocrity and the enjoyable ho-humness of an average day.
I'm not saying we should focus on the negative. Not for one minute. I agree wholeheartedly with Henry David Thoreau who said, "It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see."
I make this point because I'm noticing more and more people sounding disappointed in life and themselves when they make comparisons to the apparent reality of others. And this is not healthy, positive or productive.
I think it would be beneficial if we could all be a bit more real with each other.
And is this me getting up on my soapbox? No siree, Bob... I am both the perpetrator and the victim, just like we probably all are... I too select the shiniest, wittiest tidbits to 'share' and then often feel inadequate when I start to compare myself with the tidbits of others.
So, being the change and all that, thought I'd contribute some documentary evidence of an average, flawed, sometimes embarrassing life!
I sometimes pick my nose... And occasionally get caught doing it while I'm driving.
...Once when I lived in London and was staying in a friends attic bedroom at the top of steep stairs, I got up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet, fell down the stairs and ended up wetting my pants!
And then more recently when I was camping with friends... We'd been sitting around the fire chatting and I'd left it till the last minute to tear myself away from the campfire conversations to go off into the bushes and empty my bladder. I tripped on a rock and the impact was fatal!
Then there was the time at band camp, yes literally... No it didn't have anything to do with a flute... It was grade four. I remember sitting at one of the long trestles in the mess hall eating lunch and I started saying some not nice things about one of the girls... Everyone went quiet and then I realised she was sitting right next to me... Oh dear, I still remember that moment keenly, even after all these years. Poor girl, poor me.
And as a side-note, at that time I could not play any instruments so I don't know what the hell I thought I was doing there.
When I was in grade two I had to stand up in front of the class and spell 'breakfast'...
I spelt it b-r-e-a-k-f-a-r-t.
Everyone laughed, including the teacher... I felt so embarrassed I hoped the linoleum floor would open up and swallow me. (On the positive side, that may have been the defining moment in me becoming a proud spelling and grammar nazi.)
And now well, these are just funny stories aren't they. Maybe even endearing.
I could tell you about the times I haven't been the greatest of mums, or when I've lied, let people down, let myself down, shied away from challenges, struggled with my own self imposed limitations, thought, said and done nasty things... But maybe that would be too much reality.
So here we are at the end and what's the conclusion I'm making?
Sure, keep sharing photos of your cute kids, pretty flowers, extreme sports conquests, funny moments, clever thoughts and inspiring travel shots... I'm sure I will.
But let's all stop measuring ourselves up against something that doesn't even exist.
OK, your turn! ;)...
>>> Leonie Orton is a writer, editor and marketing communications consultant. She'll create communication mediums in the shape of words, graphics and webs for your business, connecting you with the people who need you. Get in touch by email, facebook or twitter. And if you're not already signed up for new writings and special offers, get hooked up here.