Social media is a funny place these days. Every few months I like to take a second or two and call it out for what it is… a load of bullshit. Hey, I’m part of the bullshit hamster wheel. So yes, I’m calling it on myself too. Today was the perfect case in point.
I woke up yesterday wanting to post a picture that was happy and smiling, cute outfit, appropriately paired background, you know the drill (something like the one you see above). But I didn’t have anything. Even searching the archives, it felt like I was about to tell the biggest lie yet by posting said aforementioned picture. Because…there are days that absolutely suck. They just do and no matter who you are, where you are, how much money you make or how perfect you make your life look on social media, you will have these days. It’s as sure as death and taxes.
Bad days befall every single human on this earth. But you know what we’ve become experts in doing? We’ve become well versed in covering those days up. We use old pictures of us smiling, pictures of beautiful sunsets or puppy photos to plaster over the cracks that are appearing in our lives. That way no one around us will ever know there’s a problem. It’s just perfection, heavily edited excellence. And I do believe it’s the most dangerous change that has come before us in the 21st century. Even when people are talking about their pain, they are doing so in an uplifting manner, so as not to drag the tone down. When was the last time you heard someone just say, “I’m not ok,” and just left it there.
Again, I have to admit I’m an offender here. I do it. I say I’m in trouble and then I follow it up with “but I’ve got this, I’ll rebound, like we all do and I’ll be fine.” Do you know how many times I have sat on my couch, whether in London or here on the island and thought “I might not be fine. This might not be ok”? And do you know what makes it worse? When I then go down a spiral of “I literally have nothing to be sad, mad or depressed about; I have limbs that work, family that’s alive and healthy, a roof over my head, money in the bank, food on the table; All the basic needs are met and I’m not struggling; So what the hell am I so sad about?” Well, ladies and gents, mental health doesn’t give a damn about your circumstances. It doesn’t care about your race, gender, financial or relationship situation. Mental illness is an equal opportunity afflicter. It’s not always big, it doesn’t always last forever, and in today’s world we’ve become masters of hiding it or sugarcoating it to meet the situation at hand.
But still we reach out, as people, when we can and if we’re brave enough. Occasionally we extend a hand hoping that another human will reach out and grab it, to save us from drowning. All too often I see real people come forward these days and attempt a “help me” moment on social media. This isn’t just with celebs or big name influencers. I mean everywhere. People with accounts about their daily Thin Mint consumption, with 67 followers (gosh, I hope such an account exists), might address mental health issues and ask for patience and/or assistance. When I see these individuals brave enough to stand up and address a sinking moment, I see them met with two types of people.
The first are people that say, “you got this, we’re here for you… just say what you need and we’re gonna deliver.” God bless these people. Truly. If you’re one of these, you deserve something more than a little special in your life for being there constantly for others. You are the heroes that are lifting this world up one nice comment, DM, call or hug at a time. I love you. You are my community.
The second are people that say, “what on earth do you have to be sad about? You’re: famous, rich, beautiful, have a job, a home, your parents, toes, blonde hair, fluffy eyebrows…” You name it and they’ll find some excuse for why you have no reason to complain. Their thinking in a nutshell: “You are so lucky with everything that you can’t possibly have pain in your life, ever. And if you do, it’s just because you’re not grateful for what you already have.”
Now, I realise there might be a few people reading that may just be these people. To you I must say, first of all, that I get what you’re laying down there. Chances are you have followed this person’s life, either intimately or from afar and put them in a place where you truly do think their life is perfect. You want their life, or a slice of their life and by them saying they are unhappy they are telling you that the life you want is not perfect. It is a hard pill to swallow and it will make you angry. I get it. I really absolutely do. Hey, you’re my people too and there’s nothing wrong with you. Life is tough, for every single person that walks this earth. I’ll just offer you this, as far as words of encouragement go:
The mean words you’re going to write on that person’s post are not you. They’re coming from another place, and one that’s hurting, really damn bad. And you’re taking that hurt out on another human being because you want them to feel the sting of it all, of life. And maybe you’re a little angry that they have the balls to ask for help and you don’t. I hear you, I see you, I get you.
But, guess what? The person you’re about to shame, well, they’re already hurting like a motherf*cker. If that’s what you wanted for them, it’s been delivered. You won. Their pain is so real, they had to come out and announce it and ask for help. That’s real pain, that’s real hurt. That’s just real. When someone’s doing that, it’s not a place for you to feel anger or jealousy. It’s a place to level up as a human being.
Ever heard the phrase the “a rising tide lifts all boats”? I hope you have. But if you haven’t let me explain that this applies here greatly. Every kind word you offer, every ounce of help and compassion and love helps change the entire function of social media.
This community can be a place where, when a person lifts their hand and asks for assistance, they are overcome with an offering of aid and support. I have seen it first hand. I saw it this morning. I didn’t quite come out with an “I’m drowning moment.” Instead, I simply said I couldn’t step up to the plate today and deliver a happy post when that wasn’t how I was feeling.
The comments I received, the DMs that came rolling in, the Whatsapps from friends in London, were overwhelming. And I know I’m not alone. I know this is what happens when we are active on social media for good. When we seek out to lift those around us instead of tearing them down.
Next time you see someone who is struggling, or has hinted at struggling, you don’t even have to be so blatant as to send them a DM saying “are you ok, hun?” Today, I received over 200 DMs that simply featured photos of golden retrievers. No joke. People shared reels, videos, pictures of their own golden retrievers and more, because that’s how I’ve communicated, over time, about how I deal with stress and this wonderful community has listened and SHOWN UP! And YOU do every time! I want everyone to feel that light, like a warm glow of a southern sun, pointed directly onto your face. There is so much love there that it is quite impossible to end the day not feeling like everything is just somehow gonna work out.
So, in this rather long monologue I hope you’ve taken away three key points. One…. listen and look for the signs of those who might be in trouble and lift them up when you can. It doesn’t take much. Secondly, be the FIRST PERSON and if you’re the second person, it’s never too late to change teams. And finally, social media is not the real world. It’s the best edited version of the life we want the world to see. ALWAYS remember that and keep that in your pocket for future perspective. But also realise we can change the course of events with these platforms. Be a force for GOOD!