I was perusing one of the dailies today when I saw a video clip of two teens with an eloquent title “this selfie proves that social media is false”. I couldn’t care less because experience has taught me to filter junk news; else you’ll be lost reading articles that add no value to your life.
Well, the editors are skilful – they had put the video on an automatic play, and like a video playing in picture-in-picture, it slides down or up with you as you scroll the page.
So, as it rolled, I saw a teenage boy complete a cycle of frown-smile-frown in less than two seconds.
His friend or sister had intimated him to pose for a selfie, and like a pro, he quickly beamed a bold smile for the shot before returning to his previous expression in milliseconds.
This episode reminded me of something I wrote a couple of years ago on comparison in the social media era.
Don’t get me wrong, being challenged to get better is great, but a comparison that gradually and inexorably erodes you of self-worth is detrimental to personal growth and development.
Don’t compare your behind the scenes to someone else’s highlight reel.
“Stop comparing your behind the scene to someone else’s highlight reel.” This is a profound quote that rings in my mind often, even when I look at my mentors, both in medicine and in other fields of endeavour.
It’s a guiding principle I’ve come to realise its broad application, especially in this era of social media where some people mistake what they see for what it really is.
Comparison has been here since the creation of the world, but the advent of social media has hypertrophied it. It amplified one of the causes of ingratitude and unfettered desire to make it – comparison.
Because people are constantly exposed to those who have made it or those who are perfect, their perspective on what life is or should be is intensely altered.
What happens behind the scenes
Because the exposure to the causal agent is repetitive, the damage starts unnoticed in the mind, eats deep and manifests only at the chronic stage. Then you find envy, covetousness, fraud, prostitution, arrogance, disrespect for the spouse, incontinence, poor self-esteem etc.
We’re familiar with video and photo shoots. Now, there are many things that go on behind the scenes while on the location that never get to appear in the final artwork that’s viewed by millions.
In fact, the ‘behind the scenes’ if or when released, receive a smaller number of views compared to the official artwork.
Behind the scenes are the so many times the artists messed up their lines; costumes got worn and discarded; makeups worn and wiped off; people said all kinds of imaginable and unimaginable things; artists ate, laughed and talked like other humans; directors got offended and shouted; somethings on the script were modified etc.
All these never get to appear in the final work because that’s not what the producers want you to see. And that’s not what you want to see either.
If you saw them, the films and music videos will be less fanciful; your regard for some movie stars and artists will dip and you’ll stop fantasizing about the bodies of your favourite celebrities.
Some valuable lessons
If you saw the real looks of some of your sexy models, you’ll just thank God for your body and that of your significant other.
But we don’t see them, so we erroneously think [that] a well-edited five minutes motion picture with my bae in a popular restaurant gives a complete representation of my relationship.
Some might even go to the extent of desiring her because she’s sexy, funny, hardworking, and more inviting than their wives.
And God forbids [that] your spouse is feasting his or her eyes on these images. Because you’ll soon discover that you’re under-performing, ugly, fat, short, under-achieving, poor, uncaring, unadventurous, etc.
If I were to surgically peel off that beautiful, dark-brown chocolate layer (or the sweet, white milk skin) covering your internal organs, and then compared your later self to the one with the skin on, your later self won’t stand the comparison. You’ll simply tell me that it’s unfair to do that. And you’ll be right.
But that’s what we often do. We compare our ‘raw’ self to the ‘refined’ bodies of people on social media, TV and magazines. We compare our private self to their public appearance, forgetting that they only show us what they want us to see.
It’s like comparing my dirty clothing after fetching firewood from Ukushi bush to when I’m dressed to meet with Mr Jeff Bezos to discuss some business deals.
If you were to see behind the displayed wealth, fit and sexy body (sometimes photoshopped or edited in some way), you’ll discover someone going through the same things you’re going through, sometimes even worse. Sometimes the people you envy are putting on masks to cover what is happening inside.
Final thoughts on social media comparison
So, don’t confuse a 2 seconds smile on Facebook/Instagram for a lifetime of smiles without arguments between couples.
Don’t assume they’re enjoying their marriage simply because they’re always flying around the world together without any transits; although we know that in marriage transits can be long sometimes.
Don’t get frustrated with your life because everyone looks fulfilled, happy 24/7, stress-free, with no anxiety or depression, no trials, they have all they want/need, while your poor little soul is tunnelled from both ends by some concentrated trouble-filled explosives.
Nwannem relax. Many marriages are not altogether perfect. Nobody is completely free of trials, even our Lord Jesus wasn’t.
Nobody is without flaws (physically and/or in character). The important thing is working hard consistently to improve on them.
Most people aren’t happy with their chosen career though they hide behind fake smiles.
We all go through terrible times, but with God, family and good friends we try to react in a better way. That’s all. They’re inevitable, and THAT’S LIFE!
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to be better in our marriages and in every life endeavour. But don’t waste your life in endless and unfruitful comparisons that lead to a disintegration of homes.
If you see that you need a holiday from social media, by all means, take it. You’ll be refreshed when you come back. And no, you won’t miss anything. Just make sure you’re always reading my blog though, that’s part of the social media detoxification therapy. 😉
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5 Berean Study Bible)
Please excuse my Igbo slang; I couldn’t help it. Get an Igbo friend, it’s always a good idea.😊
Make sure to share with your children, spouse, friends and colleagues.