I have noticed that there is a tendency in our world today to hide the negativity that we feel on the inside from the outside world. Especially when it comes to social media.
If you look at your Facebook or Instagram feeds, you will probably notice a trend. Beautiful photos, capturing fun moments, sharing great memories.
We share funny links and inspirational videos, we like and comment in a way that makes us seem positive and upbeat.
But we avoid showing any negativity of any kind. We don’t post photos where we look ugly, we don’t share our failures, and most of all we don’t tell people what we are really thinking or feeling.
What makes us hide the bad times and our worst selves from the world?
I started to notice this behavior in myself about 2010 after a few years on Facebook. Maybe it was maturity, maybe it was because I was trying to be more professional, but I know that I started to curate my image. This became more calculated when I started to grow my speaking brand. I no longer wanted anyone to see the sides of me that we’re pessimistic, boring, angry or ugly.
Honestly, this is fairly understandable, as I think it comes from a deep-seated need to be liked. Or as Abraham Maslow described it to seek ‘love and belonging’ in our lives.
I had an important lesson about three years ago when I was going through a very tough time. I had lost a high-level speech contest, I had gone through a relationship breakup, my business was tanking and one of my family members got sick. All these shitty things happened to me over the course of a month, and by the end of it, I was feeling disillusioned, disoriented and depressed. For a while I hid it to myself, but then one day, I decided to share it with my community of friends online. I wrote an honest post about how I was feeling, and the struggles I was having.
Surprisingly, soon after I posted it, a lot of people reached out to me, via private message, text and phone calls. A lot of people posted comments of support online.
More than ever before I felt that sense of love and belonging, only because I had the courage not to hide the bad times.
This was a good lesson for me, and one that I am conscious of now. If I see someone pretending always to be positive, I know that underneath not everything is perfect. In fact, they are probably struggling to keep it all together just like me. This makes me feel empathy and to be supportive of them even if they are acting like everything is fine.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean that we should all start complaining and constantly venting on social media. But I do think there is room to balance the messages we share. To show the times when things don’t go as planned, when we aren’t looking perfect, and to embrace the mistakes we make along the way.
It’s in those moments of honesty that I think we make more of a connection, and we experience the true value of sharing our lives online.