By Doni Joszef
Another day, another scroll through the captured moments and glorious going-ons of others. A glitzy wedding. An exotic resort. A family outing. A drunken “selfie.” These are the scenes and snippets which decorate our screens. We love sharing the hits and highlights of our lives (and stalking those of others). We have no intention of arousing jealousy or feelings of “fear of missing out” in our beholders. It’s just one of those inevitable casualties of cyber life. But their jealousy is their problem, not ours. Right? Our job is to collect memorable moments and let the world know about it as we do. Right?
The problem is, what you see is usually only one piece of the puzzle. It’s just a tiny sliver of a larger reality, which is often, if not always, less glamorous than it looks on Instagram.
What we see: The cute couple, just engaged. The adorable toddler taking his first steps. The wild party on the Malibu beach. The proud graduate in his cap and gown.
What we don’t see: The cute couple arguing about wedding dates. The adorable toddler throwing a tantrum in the toy store. The wild hangover in the Malibu beach house. The proud graduate and his leftover student loans.
My goal here is not to focus on the dark side and discount the joys and celebrations of life. I’m simply trying to level the scales of perception from overly glittery and glamorous to a more realistic perspective.
For a long time, we blamed Hollywood for painting an unrealistic, overly romantic portrait of the “picture-perfect life.” But today we’re often guilty of doing just that with our own lives; we edit, filter, and screen the scenes and scenarios until we capture the perfect angle by which to portray ourselves and the trappings of our lives. But there’s always more to the picture than meets the eye, and it’s helpful to remember that when you’re sitting alone in your room, wishing you were engaged, or giggling with your child, or partying in Malibu, or framing your PhD.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m as guilty as the next guy when it comes to sharing the “greatest hits” and “favorite highlights” of my life. But I think it’s gotten to a point where we feel inadequate and incomplete if we don’t always have something to show for ourselves.
So consider this a friendly reminder that pictures may be perfect, but life is never perfect. Life is frustrating. Life is difficult. Life is challenging. And while these frustrations, difficulties, and challenges may not make it onto our Instagram feeds, they’re usually what make life most meaningful in the long run. v
Doni Joszef, LMSW, works in private practice with adolescents and young adults in Lawrence. He blogs at DeficitOfAttention.com and is pursuing a Ph.D. in media psychology. For more information, call 516-316-2247 or visit DoniJoszef.Com.