I read an amazing article on The Mighty, on how honest we truly are on social media platforms like Facebook, or Instagram. It was in reference to mental illness and how many feel they have to hide how they are truly feeling and others, really put it out there. I liked how they not only made a point to express that some have an easier time faking how they are feeling, while others’ mental illness was more difficult to hide behind that fake smile. I think sometimes, it’s not about being good at faking how you are feeling, but comes with the longevity of your illness or, simply because there is no other way.
Let’s face it, we connect with many people on social media. Friends, family, co-workers, people we found on those cute little apps and also for business advertisement and reaching out to potential clients. There’s so many reasons people go online and I think what you post, depends on who you have on social media. My Twitter is very different from my Facebook because the Twitter is primarily to promote my blog. Therefore, I can really post honestly because I am not as worried about who is going to see this. I don’t think it differs much between men and women, but I think we’re both fearful of what family and friends will say about what we post and about truthful we should be. Some may not want to see it, others might feel it’s embarrassing and others yet may feel that you are putting yourself at risk by posting things like that. I think for me it’s a combination of all the above in addition to the fact that I’ve gotten used to putting on a neutral face. Not necessarily happy, because I think most my family and friends know me as fairly serious.
I am both bipolar with anxiety and struggle with chronic pain/illness. I came out with my bipolar first and that led to me opening up about my chronic illness and pain. I decided a few years back that I was not going to be ashamed of who I was. And all of this, mental illness, chronic pain, is who I am. I’ve been extremely lucky, I think, to have people in my life who, whether they realize it or not, have been my mentors. You might ask mentoring how? I think I would have to say on the philosophies of life and how to endure and be present and mindful when you are sick and people can’t see it. I feel as someone with many, invisible illnesses that being mindful has made a world of difference for me. People often confuse mindfulness with being happy about your lot all the time and that is untrue; being mindful for me is being aware of my life and all the problems that might be in it and not being happy about it but trying to focus my attention and my breath on how to use those experiences to turn it into something good. Being mindful is about being aware, not overlooking and pretending things are brilliant.
I believe social media makes it difficult for us to be mindful. It’s encourages posting a picture-perfect life because this is what you want people to see. Still, you don’t need social media for that. The time before social media and still for some who don’t have access to it, was lived behind closed doors and through pictures taken in static. Most of those pictures were posed for family events and milestone moments. Even with the advent of video recording, it was still rare to see reality in any form. But now, we post everything from our Starbucks drink to that half-eaten sandwich you found on the ground in the parking lot that you swear looks like Captain Jack Sparrow. It doesn’t seem strange to me that some people would be less honest about their lives when they are documenting it so meticulously. This of course makes me wonder about “reality” shows and why people are so fascinated with a show you know is not real. And you know because why would anyone want to share some of those really personal things. I concede some are drama hounds but I think it’s self-protection and survival to want your privacy.
My other thought is this: who ever said that social media had to be the windows to our souls? I use social media truthfully, because I want to have a relationship with my readers and those within the chronic illness and chronic pain community. I want to be authentic because I feel it helps readers engage with me and know that I am not making it up. I am one of them. I’ve been told that my writing is authentic and that is what keeps them coming back. It is about the best compliment I could ever get. But I also see things like Facebook and Instagram being more like an online photo album that is shared and again, photos are generally fun, milestones and family events. I do believe that people should not feel pressured into posting a reality that doesn’t exist and also, I believe that we can use Facebook and Instagram platforms to bring awareness to those invisible illnesses like mental illness and chronic pain. I applaud those that are able to show what it’s really like. It takes bravery to show people your most authentic self, but I also believe with all my heart, it’s worth it.
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Thank you to The Mighty for bringing us such a great articles!
Thank you to Photo Lab for helping me create some great images!