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How to Escape the Compare and Despair of Social Media

Uncategorized May 08, 2018

I was never very good at video games when I was a kid. A lack of spatial reasoning, they call it. I also wasn’t allowed to have Nintendo as a child either. That may have something to do with it. Still, I remember trying to navigate a colonoscopy scope in medical school. For a while, I thought I wanted to specialize in gastroenterology, so I interned with a gastroenterologist for a summer. He allowed me to experiment with the scope. They use scopes to perform endoscopies and colonoscopies. It’s basically just what it sounds like—a long tube with a small camera on the end and a couple of switches on the handle to navigate the camera and the forceps that pinch the lining of the gut to remove polyps or pathology samples.

I never got the hang of it. You have to watch a television screen and guide your scope based on what you see on this small screen. I would run into the gut wall, miss a curve in the small intestine, not puncture the epithelium in the right location. Basically, I was inept. My supervisor was kind and encouraging, but even he saw that I had a huge handicap when it came to these sorts of things. For the record, I had difficulty with the laparoscopic surgery camera for this very same reason.

This is what social media is. We are trying to maneuver through an organ of life by what we see on a screen, not what we can palpate with our hands. Except that even the world we see on social media is not a living, breathing human being with inflammatory bowel disease. It’s a superficial, online marketer-filled, troll-ridden world. Like directing a scope, it’s hard to tell what’s up from down, in from out, or left from right. And like in gastroenterology, you come across a lot of sh*t.

 What you see is not what you get. We must accept that even live videos are not real life. Even a heartfelt blog post may not actually be of the heart. We all have an agenda these days. Myself included. Whether that is an agenda of sharing pictures with your family or saving lives with your message is beside the point. The sheer fact of being seen on social media is a fallacy. Additionally, it’s ironic that women would say they connect with friends more on social media than in real life. I’m not knocking you by any means. To be a busy working mom who lives far from family without close friends nearby can be lonely. Social media is a nice stand-in for our heart’s desire for connection.

No matter how seemingly transparent someone is online, it is still not real life. It is literally five seconds of a 24-hour period. Maybe a 60-second video clip. If someone is a normal human being, they are not showing the worst sides of themselves. You do not see them fighting with their husbands or disciplining their toddlers. You do not see their messy playrooms or dirty dishes. And you definitely don’t see their inner tears, hurts, struggles and doubts.

I’m not saying that everyone should now go bearing their souls and showing their dark skeletons on social media. In fact, I think these kinds of overshares are mostly triggering to the same people that you assume may be served. In effect, sharing this kind of depressing content frequently is largely self-serving and self-gratifying. All I ask is this: please stop comparing your daily life to another woman’s highlight reel.




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