We’ve all done it – scrolled through Facebook and Pinterest and Instagram, scanning pictures of our friends and acquaintances. We see beautiful weddings, amazing vacations, career achievements, and adorable kids. Everyone is smiling and obviously doing incredible things with their life.
At some point during our perusing it’s easy to start comparing the feed we’re looking at to the reality of our lives. We may start to wonder: Where is my happy marriage complete with date nights and flowers for no reason? Where is my prestigious award for my work? Where is my huge group of friends who I love to hang out with all the time? Why is everyone so tan?! Our lives come up short by comparison.
It’s easy to forget that there are quite a few things pictures don’t tell us.
Pictures don’t show our true feelings.
Several months ago I was a presenter at a conference and had a one-on-one conversation with another presenter. They were decidedly grumpy about being at the conference. Later that day I saw a picture of this presenter with one of the conference organizers with a huge smile on their face. That picture was not an accurate representation of the presenter’s true feelings, though no one looking at the photo would know it. We’ve all been trained to smile for the camera – even if it’s a fake smile.
Pictures don’t show the entirety of our lives.
A picture is just a snippet of our lives; a fraction of a second. That’s why we call it a snapshot! A quick push of a button cannot capture all that has led up to that point and all that will happen afterwards. A picture doesn’t show the fight that happened between a couple after date night. A picture doesn’t show the personal sacrifice and struggles someone went through en route to their achievement. Just because these other moments aren’t photographed doesn’t mean that they aren’t occurring.
Pictures don’t show the full context.
If a picture is taken of a fallen tree after a thunderstorm you might suspect the whole street had been destroyed. But if the camera zoomed out, you’d see all the other trees and houses perfectly untouched. This picture has been purposefully selected to create a response. We all curate our own image through the photos we show. For example, my Facebook feed has a lot of photos of me out speaking, because that’s part of the image I want to convey. It’s not the totality of who I am or what I do. Remember that the images you’re seeing are similarly being selected from a larger context.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing our lives to the lives we see on social media. Remember that you’re never seeing the full picture. As the saying goes, ‘stop comparing someone else’s outsides to your insides’. Put your focus back on your own life. Reconnect with the gifts that are present in the life you’re living right now. Ups and downs, good days and bad days, joys and disappointments are all universal experiences. Nobody has it perfect, no matter how things may look on Facebook.
Have you ever felt bummed after looking at other people’s photos? What can you do to remind yourself to put your focus back on your own life? Leave a comment below!