Living online unreal
Everybody is the star of their own movie on social media. Their life is shared in glossy images of fun, food, friends and family.
On the whole, that is a good thing. It would be a worry if the bulk of images people wanted to share were of dark moments and people they did not like.
Those are best left to the skill of professional film-makers.
It is good that we amateurs with a smartphone overwhelmingly prefer to catalogue the joys of life — but our Review feature today suggests we can have too much of a good thing.
Brad Smeele, aged 30, a quadriplegic after a wakeboarding accident, has made an effort to reduce his online activity to experience more of the beauty and happiness of the real world around him.
Someone confined to a wheelchair, with a smartphone mounted for him to use with a mouth stylus, is perhaps the last person who would be thought likely to question the value of social media, and Smeele acknowledges the contact it gives him with mates he cannot as easily meet now.
But the last time he was in hospital for spinal treatment he decided to do without social media for a while and see what happened.
He realised the “highlight reels of other people’s lives” were making it harder to enjoy the life he had.
He did not leave the phone off but he consciously reduced his use and noticed the good things around him.
That is something many of us could do.
Social media is a not a movie we are making. It’s a means of communication with people we know or share our interests. It is good to send and receive happy snapshots and witty comments but it should not be mistaken for a documentary of real life.
It is certainly not a reflection on your own life if it does not seem as joyful and eventful as the posts by your Facebook friends.
Life coach and Herald columnist Louise Thompson calls this “comparisonitis”.
In her practice she sees it a lot. It can be unhealthy for the sender as well as the receiver, she says.
“It’s dangerous if you put your selfesteem in how many likes you get on Facebook and Instagram . . . you can’t control that.”
Cut it down if you can.