The Shackles of Our Social Media Contract

Ahhhh yes, wonderful cold and flu season.  There’ve been a long string of nasty bugs gracing our home with their disgusting presence this fall season.  I wrote this last week at the tail end of a VERYYY long flu/pneumonia episode but I hadn’t gotten a chance to finish it until now … 

It’s Day 10 of house arrest and I gotta admit… this is getting really old.  Nicco made an impressively quick recovery and is back to 100% Tasmanian devil.  Oliver’s illness has settled in his lungs, as it always does, and so he’s still been up much of every night, his sleep constantly interrupted by coughing fits.  But as always, our struggles have led my mind to deeper wanderings…

It’s been interesting to observe my feelings about sharing the trials and tribulations of this week on social media.  Being a captive of my apartment has given me ample opportunity to reach out and an even deeper desire to connect with other adults outside of these four walls. But unlike all the times I post about Oliver’s joys and victories, I’ve hesitated to hit post each and every time I’ve wanted to share our struggles this week. There’s been this underlying sense of an unspoken pact that is part of our shared social media contract.  Your digital presence is supposed to feature your highlight reel… Your joys… Your perfect life.  It’s a place where what is shared is intentionally skewed toward the good times, leaving the more mundane aspects to dwell in the shadows, tucked safely away from the gaze of onlookers.  My posts this week did not follow the rules… they weren’t photo shopped or perfect or positive.  They were real.  And that made me hesitant to share them.  

Perhaps this is the root of why our social media feeds are a cherry picked litany of our best and brightest moments.  Are we scared to be vulnerable with each other, laying out for everyone to see that our lives are simply… normal?  We suffer a normal amount.  We are unconscious a normal amount.  We have simple joys and simple routines.  We win. We lose.  We’re busy and stressed and happy sometimes and sad others.  Is it too scary to admit normalcy?  

We quickly tire of the ‘complainy facebook friends’.  We judge them as needy and dramatic and turn our backs in favor of another brightly colored photo of a smiling bikini clad girl on vacation.  Or we opt for a friend’s newest post about their triumphs and perfections, while trying our best to stuff down the green envy that arises within us.  It’s a game of fallacies… A diversion that fosters jealously, comparison and an ever-worsening sense of dread that we will never be as good as our peers.  We think to ourselves, Am I doing it all wrong?  My life isn’t anywhere near as perfect as everyone else’s seems.  

And so we do our part to uphold the contract.  We squirrel away our sadness or hardships and don a beautiful mask for the world to see.  Our subconscious whispers, ‘Look, see everybody, I’m positive. I’m happy too. I’m not one of the needyones’ 

But in truth, we are all needy.  We are in NEED of human connection.

In our increasingly isolated world, social media is one of our only sources for relation with and support from our communities.  Gone are the days when neighbors dropped by to offer a hand or their ear to listen.  In-person group gatherings, like the ones my mother continues to host to this day in my hometown, are now few and far between. These days friends are digital.  And so is community. And despite the fact that our social structure has changed, humans and our needs, have not. 

I wonder, am I alone in my deep longing for a vibrant community of authentic people surrounding me?  Or do others want this too?  Can we create a social media environment of truth and sisterhood where our imperfections are embraced and healed?  I share on social media because I long for this REAL connection, the kind that is forged in the fire of vulnerability and born out of our common struggle to be human.  We are reaching out for each other.  Let’s connect.  

We’re searching for our village, those who will walk beside us with acceptance and support.  They’ll say, I’ve been there too.  You’re not alone. We all go through this

Can we come together and share our truths instead of lying to one another?  Are we ready to take down the veils of illusion, remove the masks we hide behind and allow the world to see the real… Me? 

It is intimidating to bare your soul to the world, but it’s also powerful.  When we own our truth, our story and our burdens, dragging them up from darkness into light, the shackles of secrecy fall away and we are finally free to fly.  

I am so ready to fly…

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