“I am so jealous of your life!”
I’m not trying to brag, but during the past year, it was not unusual to see that phrase, or some version of it, pop up on my Facebook chat.
“Haha thaaaaanks!” I would reply, while thinking to myself, “No… No you are not.”
Facebook has a way of making everyone’s life look like a party. Every girl has perfect style, and every guy has a six-pack.
I just finished a year abroad, and by the looks of my Facebook albums, my life has been glamorous. But as I looked through the pictures of all of my friends back at CMC, their lives appeared just as amazing. I was so jealous after seeing the Mr. Stag video, the pictures of makeshift bars set up in dorm rooms, and of course the hilarious Saturday night selfies that so many friends posted. Even while I was abroad on the adventure of a lifetime, I , too, suffered the infamous FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out): it’s real, I swear.
Clicking through my pictures you will see me standing in front of the Vatican, fist pumping on someone’s shoulders in Melbourne, and completing a half marathon in northern Spain. More often than not, my face is cheerful, I am either smiling and sticking out my tongue, and all is well.
But like I said, Facebook makes everyone’s life look like a party.
What you don’t see are the tears that fell on my keyboard while I Skyped my friends and family from the other side of the world. Facebook pictures don’t flaunt the girl walking around campus, headphones in, head down on an average day. Hidden was the countdown tab on my computer telling me, down to the exact second, when I would be going home. These descriptions don’t sum up my year of living abroad. Most days were spent happy and exploring, but those sad days happen. They were bound to.
A whole year away from home? Spending a full year in a foreign country is bound to bring homesickness and days of loneliness. It would happen to anyone. We are only human. But our addiction to social media can make us believe that our friends across the world, or anywhere else, are “living the life.” It convinces us that everyone is living with carefree bliss… Everyone else, that is.
Have you ever stalked yourself on Facebook? I suggest you do – because I promise you, you look just as absolutely attractive, fun, and happy as all of those friends that you envy so much. I used to think that everyone was having more fun than me, that everyone was prettier than me, that everyone had more friends than me. Until the day I scrolled through MY pictures instead of someone else’s. You will think to yourself, ”Wow, I would be jealous of my life too!” Because when you stalk yourself, you know the truth.
“I am so jealous of your life, tell me all about it!”
Well, would that not be a much better message to receive? Then perhaps you would have the opportunity to explain yourself – the ups and downs of your life. You could talk about the day you were so homesick that you walked to the supermarket a few miles away just to buy a certain type of cereal to remind you of home. You could explain the frustration you felt while stuck on a train during a protest in Spain for two miserable hours. You could reminisce on the first month of school when you slept on top of your blankets every night because you did not have air conditioning. Or you could just explain the fact that Scripps ran out of cookies right when you arrived for dinner.
Instead, those fascinating and colorful lives you admire online are missing a key part: real emotions and life’s inevitable obstacles. No one is happy and smiling 24/7. Who is going to post pictures of themselves alone, sulking in their room? Who is going to post pictures of themselves doing homework (unless something worthy happens in Poppa)? Who is going to actually tell Facebook “what’s on their mind?” And who is going to “check-in” and say “curled up in my bed, depressed?”
These virtual identities that we create for ourselves only help us hide from our true feelings. Instead of accepting and analyzing and really sharing what we feel, we just sulk and envy the lives of our friends – solely based on pictures.
Why not strike up a chat with that friend and learn about their real life? Maybe you will connect on a deeper level. And you know what? You can’t post a picture of that!