I think we’re all aware that social media can cause pangs of envy and make us feel like our lives aren’t shiny enough. In general I’m a fan of unfollowing or ignoring anyone who makes you feel bad about yourself.
But I think our reactions to most people or topics are more nuanced and varied than that and our feelings about other people and their lives are colored by our own mood or circumstances in the moment.
Yesterday I took a 25 minute run during a 28 minute break in phone meetings. I hiked up a hill behind our neighborhood. With all of the rainy days we’ve had lately, the hills were so green and the air was so clear that you could see all the way to a sliver of the Pacific and I felt so grateful.
When I find myself feeling expansive and joyful, I want to reach out, to share, and sometimes the easiest way to do that is to post on Instagram. But then I often doubt myself, like is this bragging? I don’t want to be disingenuous, or intentionally try to make my life seem like it’s always rolling green hills and blue skies. It’s not.
But I think it’s human nature to feel expansive and want to connect broadly when our spirits are high. We don’t feel the same natural impulse to document and share when our day is mundane or worse. In that case I tend to retreat, go inward, or connect with someone closer to home.
So maybe the best approach is to use social media accordingly. When I feel bright, go ahead and scroll for inspiration or share my exuberance. When I feel dim, steer clear. Just to mix things up, I can push myself to occasionally post the lesser moments to balance things out and extend a bridge. And remember that social media isn’t really all that social. If I’m after real connection, my brain and biology won’t be satisfied by an online interaction. Instead I need to hug an actual person or chat with a friend over coffee.