Our Biggest Social Media Hoax

Life can be hard, can’t it? Regardless if you grew up rich or poor, popular or unpopular, good looking, or not so good looking, you’re certain to go through your own share of bitter trials. I know this for a fact.

If you’re going through some difficult challenges right now, or if you've had trouble for too long, you may look to the sky and ask, “Lord, why me? Why can’t I catch a break?” Or, if you’re an atheist you may just think you’ve had a long run of bad luck or “bad karma.” Either way, life can be difficult and for some reason, bad luck apparently…doesn’t discriminate.

Right about now, you might be thinking to yourself, “Oh no, I definitely have more bad luck than other people I know,” but we have to remember that some people are very good at hiding their personal troubles. After all, a lot of us have images to uphold and we have zero desire to broadcast our problems on Facebook, to our family, co-workers, neighbors, and acquaintances.

The next time you look at your rich boss who’s driving a Lamborghini or a Ferrari, who has the model girlfriend and dines at the finest restaurants, you might not know it but he may be going through a horrific child custody battle with his ex, or facing federal charges; you just never know what's going on behind closed doors.

You know your sweet neighbor next-door? Well, she’s quietly battling her own demons as she fights to leave her house every day due to her debilitating anxiety. The beautiful girl in marketing? Her anorexia has her life and her sanity hanging by a thread.

Looking ‘Perfect’ on Social Media

We all have our own struggles and we’d be folly to think otherwise. In the day of social media, half of us, if not more, have learned how to control what others think of us – be it for better or worse. Funny thing is – it goes both ways. Others, especially those who have perfected their image, are to some degree determining how we see them as well.

As someone who not only writes blogs and articles for the web, but who is a social media manager, I’ve realized that “branding” has not only become a part of my personal mindset, but it has also become a way of life for Millennials and Generation X. You don’t have to be a social media guru to make it appear online as if your kids, your marriage, and your life are perfect.

Of course, I am just as guilty as the next person. I’m not one of those people who likes to air my dirty laundry on social media. Wearing my heart on my sleeve? Been there, done that in my twenties and I’m so over it. I’d much rather post cute pics of my dogs than rant about my personal struggles. If I made my own life look all hunky-dory on social media – I’m guilty as charged! But, I too wouldn’t have it any other way.

Some people, however, take the whole “looking good” on social media thing too far. I’m talking about physical perfection. Take Botox for example, it’s no longer for women in their 30s and beyond. Today, thousands of young women in their late teens and early twenties are getting Botox injections every three months or so, this way they can look utterly flawless and refreshed when their image is plastered all over the Internet.

I’m sure the plastic surgery industry is pleased with this hot new trend, which isn’t showing signs of slowing down anytime soon. For some Millennials, getting Botox is as natural as getting their hair or nails done – it’s become a normal part of their beauty routines. Even I didn't predict that!

The Price of Perfection

The benefits of Botox and Photoshop aside, there are emotional and social implications of looking perfect all the time. In reality, there is only so far that teeth whitening, gel nails, Botox and dermal fillers, a perfect body, and fancy cars will get us. We are human, and regardless of how we look on the outside, we are all flawed on the inside, but we're all great at hiding our flaws on social media, now aren't we?

In pursuit of physical perfection, a spotless online image, and financial success, we must not forget our humanity, and more importantly, our love for our fellow man. We are so much more than flesh and bone, we are emotionally intelligent beings who should measure our self-worth by how much we serve others, not by the size of our egos.

In this “selfie generation” where we’re snapping pics of ourselves and worrying so much about our image, we must not forget about the outside world and all the wonderful people in it. From your neighbor, to the bank teller, to the lady at the gym’s childcare, to the rough-looking guy at the gas station who has it harder than you – remember we’re all people and beauty is only skin deep.

If you find yourself thinking that somebody else has “such a perfect life,” and yours seems to be full of obstacles, remember that more likely than not, you’ve probably fallen victim to their homemade branding. Unless they’re one of those people who wear their heart on their sleeve (which I doubt), you’re probably seeing what they want you to see. It’s that simple.

As far as personal struggle, we all experience it in some way; no one is immune. I don’t care how rich or successful someone is, they’ve had their own trials. The takeaway is to judge less and empathize more. It’s taken me a long time, but I finally found my peace when I began accepting people for who they are and stopped judging them for their inadequacies.

We all come from different backgrounds, upbringings and experiences, all of which shape who we are. When you have a problem with another person’s point of view or their actions, try to understand why it is they’ve arrived at their conclusion, especially taking into consideration their personal experiences.

As technology advances, I’m guessing our world is only going to look more “perfect” than ever before. But, no digital technology can change the fact that we’re all human. We live in the real world and no matter how great we look on the outside or online, we can’t change the fact that we’re all perfectly imperfect and that’s the beauty of life.

Elainna Ciaramella is an independent journalist, business blogger, and ghostwriter for entrepreneurs and business professionals nationwide. She has written extensively on the topics of business, entrepreneurship, law, and medicine. She is well-versed in search engine optimization, content marketing, and social media. You can connect with her on LinkedInTwitterFacebookGoogle +, and Instagram. 

Originally published on LinkedIn.