Have you ever browsed Facebook and wondered why everyone seems to be living such a fantastic life?
They’re always happy, always doing something interesting and you can’t help but think to yourself: “Why is my life so lame and boring?”
Here’s a newsflash for you:
It’s not that your life is lame and boring, and it’s certainly not that you’re unusually miserable compared to everyone else.
It’s that people are living a fake life on social media.
Why are people so fake on social media?
For these reasons:
1. People want to craft a unique, cool image of themselves
The beauty of social media is that you craft the image of yourself you’ve always wanted.
You can embellish all the great things going on in your life while ignoring the not-so-great things.
You can show the photos where you look cool and beautiful and make sure to untag yourself from any photos that aren’t so beautiful.
We can do this because social media gives us complete control over what we want to show.
There are no random circumstances out of our control that test our true character like there are in real life.
There is no one to interact with face-to-face.
Even messaging someone on social media gives you time to craft the perfect response.
Is anyone going to reveal all the bad and miserable things about themselves on social media?
Of course not!
This is why social media is often about people’s “highlight reels” rather than what’s really going on in their life behind the curtain.
And it’s absolutely futile to compare your real life with someone’s highlight reel.
You’re never going to compete with a perfectly crafted image someone has created on their Instagram or Facebook profile.
2. Social media isn’t normal
Everybody wants to be popular, or at least, to be accepted by others.
Humans are social beings, and it has always been important evolutionarily speaking for us to not be cast aside by the group.
But this usually consisted of a small tribe or group.
It certainly has never been normal for humans to seek approval from thousands or millions of people, but that’s exactly what is happening with social media.
While it’s normal to seek opinions from your close tribe or family, it’s not normal to seek approval and opinions from strangers in bulk.
And this can lead to some seriously odd consequences.
When you hear stories about people risking their lives leaning out of train windows on an overpass for the perfect Instagram shot, you know things have become really bizarre.
People have become obsessed with seeking approval from millions of strangers, and this has led to, you guessed it, people creating an incredibly fake persona.
Marc Maron said it well:
“It amazes me that we are all on Twitter and Facebook. By “we” I mean adults. We’re adults, right? But emotionally we’re a culture of seven-year-olds. Have you ever had that moment when are you updating your status and you realize that every status update is just a variation on a single request: “Would someone please acknowledge me?”
3. Materialistic people tend to love using social media
Doesn’t it seem like more superficial and materialistic people use social media?
I know it does for me.
If you don’t know what I’m referring to, I’m talking about people who care more about money, possessions, and status symbols, than integrity, authenticity, and anything real.
Too much social media use is usually a red flag in dating for me.
But when you think about it, it’s not surprising that materialistic people are also the types of people that check their phone every few minutes to see whether their latest social media post has received any likes.
These people tend to seek status and approval from others, and social media is an easy way for them to get it.
Materialistic people don’t have a genuine sense of identity and purpose. They just want to be popular.
They show off to others on social media by sharing their material possessions on social media.
Social media is tailor-made for a person like this!
And this is why social media seems so fake because materialistic people with no depth tend to dominate what we see.
Meg Jay eloquently explains why social media is really set up to “seem” rather than “be”:
“Despite its revolutionary promises, Facebook can turn our everyday lives into that wedding we have all heard about: the one where the bride chooses her prettiest friends, not her best friends, to be bridesmaids. It can feel like a popularity contest where being Liked is what matters, being the best is the only respectable option, how our partners look is more important than how they act, the race to get married is on, and we have to be clever all the time. It can be just another place, not to be, but to seem.”
4. People are trying to live up to a fake image
We can blame social media and the media in general for this.
We’re consuming more online media than ever, and we’re constantly seeing stereotypes in the media.
Inevitably, people think those personas are cool and relatable, so they try to live up to those stereotypes.
They adopt the outer mannerisms, accents, style, and beliefs of a certain type of person they want to be, not realizing that this isn’t really them.
This doesn’t just play out in social media, but in real life as well.
The difference is that it’s easier to spot when it comes across as fake in real life, but it’s much easier for someone to fake that persona on their social media profiles.
But the goals are the same, whether it’s in real life or on social media. They want to live up to the stereotype the media has drilled into their minds.
5. Social media has laser targeted ads
And this is also the case with advertising on social media. Social media has more ads than ever. That’s how these platforms make money.
What do ads want? Easy: consumers.
Fake people are often the products of high-level social engineering and marketing that’s made them into a certain type of demographic almost without them realizing it.
“Forty-something married homeowner with an interest in cars? Ha, I can sell to those guys in my fucking sleep, man.”
Advertising has become so advanced on social media that you can literally pinpoint your desired customer.
When you fall into the kind of “type” that a marketing big brain created you to be at the end of a boardroom table you end up losing a part of yourself.
Without even realizing it in some cases, you start trimming parts of yourself and your interests, quirks, beliefs and dreams in order to fit what you think you’re “supposed” to be.
But the thing is you don’t have to buy that latest v-neck sweater, tank top, or flashy sportscar.
And even if you do it’s only one part of who you are, not some kind of whole “package” you have to fit into because some marketing firm thinks you do.
6. It’s now become possible to become famous on social media
Fame is a powerful drug. Everyone wants to be famous (well, at least, that’s what it looks like on social media).
And the trouble is, social media has become a legitimate way for someone to get famous.
When you’re looking to get fame, “clout” or social popularity there are many lengths you will go to.
One reason so many people on social media these days seem faker than ever is that our celebrity-obsessed culture has turned them into attention hawks with no appreciation for life or other people.
They’d practically let their family go homeless if they could create a “post” that goes viral.
“I deserve x, I deserve y” are the words of a fame-seeking attention whore.
Does it surprise you to know that this sort of person tends to be just a little on the fake side?
And these are people who are getting the most impressions on social media platforms!
No wonder social media seems incredibly fake.
7. There is a lack of compassion on social media
Everybody is a stranger on the Internet. There is no real face-to-face connection.
And when you can’t talk to someone face-to-face, you tend to lack compassion for them.
After all, they’re just an avatar on a screen.
This is why people can be so rude on social media, and why people can look so fake on social media.
They don’t really care about anyone. There’s no authenticity, empathy, compassion, you know, genuine emotions that make us human.
And the bottom line is this:
You can’t form a real connection with someone unless you can actually talk with them face-to-face.
8. Most people aren’t living an exciting life
Life is boring for a lot of people. You go to school, get a 9-5 job, start a family, but many people have a feeling that they’re not living an exciting life.
And seeing as though their own life is not exciting, to make themselves feel better they decide to fool everyone with an “amazing” and “fun” life on social media.
What better way to impress your friends from 20 years ago than by pretending you’re rich and you’ve made it on social media?
As we’ve said above, it’s easy to fake a life on social media, so most people do it to get away from their own boring life and impress people they haven’t seen in years.
9. You don’t get rewarded on social media for sharing your vulnerable side
There really isn’t much reward for sharing with others how difficult your life is.
In reality, social media is probably a dangerous place to share too much about yourself because people on the internet are mean.
They’re not talking to you face-to-face so they feel like they can judge you however they like without repercussions.
Furthermore, sharing how miserable you are in real life is bound to turn off future employers.
After all, browsing social media profiles seems to be part of the job process these days!
10. We all naturally compare ourselves to others
It’s almost human nature to compare ourselves to others. We all do it.
And social media is the perfect place to outdo your competition.
All you have to do is show that you’re successful through fake status updates and fake photos.
We do this to feel better about ourselves. If we’re living a life that other people envy, then we’re doing a pretty good job in our lives, right?
So most people think:
“If I want to show that I’m living the life of my dreams, then why not share the photo I took 6 months ago incredibly happy standing in front of the Eiffel tower?”
It’s all fake and it doesn’t mean anything, yet so many of us take social media seriously.
In reality, it probably only gives us a small dopamine boost when we get lots of likes on our photos, but this small boost makes us do it again and again.
How to Use Social Media to Spread Positivity and Improve Mental Health: 5 Tips
While social media might produce plenty of “fake people”, it doesn’t mean it’s all bad.
It really just depends how you use it (and what you ignore).
Social media has taken the sharing of knowledge to an entirely new level and the truth is that when the printing press came to be, people were ready for more information; at this point, we’re inundated with so much information we often don’t know what to do with it.
And it’s overwhelming in all the wrong ways.
If you’re sick and tired of feeling sick and tired over social media, keep reading.
In this article, we’re going to cover some of the best ways to curb the impact of social media on your mental health and help you use social media to spread positivity instead.
1. Be intentional about using social media.
It’s no secret that you can get lost in a social media scroll for hours at a time. If you’re like most people, this has probably happened to you a time or two.
If you want to reduce the impact social media has on your mental health and you want to improve the positive aspects of it, it’s important to use social media intentionally.
When you show up to use a social media platform, such as Instagram, Tik Tok or any other platform, it’s important you understand the reason for being there.
If you don’t have any need to be on those platforms right now, ask yourself why you opened the app in the first place.
By being mindful and paying attention to what you’re even doing there, to begin with, you can start to change your behaviors and reduce the friction around social media in your life.
2. Don’t use it to fill time and space.
Humans crave stimulation. We look for entertainment on every corner and we can’t just be still with our thoughts anymore.
Standing in line at the bank used to be a thing you did without much thought, but now you have to pull out your phone and scroll through social media or check your email.
It’s an impulse and the truth is, if you paid attention to what you were looking at, you’d find that you’re not getting anything out of that engagement.
In fact, it’s not very “engaging” at all. Most people use social media as a way to fill time and take up space in their lives, but if you are using social media to kill time, you might want to ask yourself what that really means?
What’s wrong with being bored standing in the line at the bank? Why do we have to be entertained every second of the day?
Make a conscious choice to just be with your thoughts during certain situations and you might find that when you do come back to social media, it is more enjoyable.
3. Filter the noise.
There’s no shortage of loud, annoying, and downright ignorant people online.
Unfortunately, when you choose to engage with a social media platform, you accept that risk.
It’s not that their behavior is okay, but it is known to the majority of people that some will take a lot of liberties with their opinions and how they treat people online.
In order to be happier in your life and reduce your risk of mental health issues, it’s important to filter the noise on your social media platforms.
For example, if your cousin is always complaining about someone or something, nobody said you have to keep following that person – even if they are family.
You get to decide who to follow and what messages you want to see on a daily basis.
Go through your feeds and delete anyone who isn’t contributing to a positive environment.
You can’t change the way people act but you can change your experience using these platforms quite easily.
Unfortunately, a lot of people put up with more than they should online because they don’t want to make other people uncomfortable by blocking them or removing them from their friend lists.
4. Talk about how you use social media with others.
There’s a theory that we act, think and behave like the five people we spend most of our time with.
This means that if you hang around with people who are racist or who have a certain line of thinking, you are more likely to adopt that line of thinking – often without realizing it.
You’re ingrained in a certain type of culture and you might not see how it’s impacting your life and beliefs.
Take some time to talk to the people in your circle about how they use social media and especially talk to your family.
If you have children, talk to them about who they follow and why. We’re all influenced by our surroundings.
There’s no way around it. So if you can put in some effort to create an environment where people are using social media in a positive way, you are more likely to do the same.
5. Contribute to the good.
At the end of the day, the pull to be on social media and use it regularly is strong; but if you feel like you can’t handle it or it really is impacting your happiness in a negative way, it might be a better idea to remove yourself from it entirely.
While this seems extreme, the same logic applies in all areas of life: you wouldn’t stay in a job where someone was abusing you.
You wouldn’t live in a house that was condemned. You wouldn’t drive a car that got a flat tired every 5 miles.
If you have standards in your life for how you live, you should have a standard for using social media as well.
If you don’t get anything from it except negative connection, you can begin to create positive connections or you can remove yourself.
You might be surprised by how little you miss it after a while. You can always come back to social media when you feel like you are ready to be there again. Don’t forget. You get to decide.
The Secret to a Better Life?
Hi. I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder of Hack Spirit.
I want you to know that if you’re struggling with feelings of anxiety, confusion, and frustration, it’s okay.
You see, I’ve been there too.
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