There is a popular link going around Facebook that basically says, “don't worry about other people's lives, go out and enjoy your own”. The premise is that the perception we put out on social media may not be reality. But I have always heard that someone's perception is their reality. Which is it? Are we being real or not? Who am I? Who are you? More importantly, why are you stalking me on my blog that I probably had to beg you to read in the first place? You sicko!
My social media consists entirely of letting you know what I am eating (cheese) and sending out invites to play Candy Crush. However, about a month ago, a friend of mine echoed the sentiment of the Facebook article. He is going through a divorce and his comments were directed at couples who look like they have a perfect relationship…on Facebook. I don’t think he meant it as an attack, but he was specifically talking about my relationship. My wife and I had just had a date and we posted a picture from it on Facebook.
Here is a pic of me and my hot wife:
A couple of days later my friend and I were talking about our relationships and the challenges we were facing. It wasn’t quite as deep as the typical male talk that is repeated numerous times a day. You know the one:
Other Guy: Hey
Guy: Did you see the game?
Other guy: Yeah, it was ____ (either “awesome” or “horrible” depending on whether OUR team won or lost. Of course, if it was a loss, we also insert an insult about the refs or umpires).
Guy: Boobs rock.
Other guy: Yeah.
This particular conversation wasn’t like that. This was two old friends just sharing sincerely about our relationships. Then he made a comment about the picture posted on our date night. Interesting. Does a facebook post of a husband and wife just enjoying each other’s company create a false impression that they have a perfect relationship? I would hope not, but who knows? My wife and I love each other dearly (when we aren’t trying to kill each other) but we are far from a perfect couple. We argue (too much) over the most trivial, worthless stuff. We’re both stubborn. I get angry too quickly and in my opinion she doesn’t say “sorry” quick enough. As similar as we are, we have very different super powers. I have my super love handles and she has… well I’ll let her fortune-telling tea tell you.
My wife drinks a brand of tea that has a fortune, similar to one that you would find in a fortune cookie, tied to each tea bag.
Here is an example of one of the “fortunes”:
She had one over the weekend that said, "Your super power is forgiveness." I read that and thought, "funny." Cute, right? The more I thought about it though, the more I realized that it was True. If possible, it was even more accurate than the one I pretend to get each time I read a fortune: "Help! I am being held prisoner in a fortune cookie factory." On a serious note, without my wife's super power of forgiveness, we wouldn't be married today. The fortune describes her to a tea (Tea… get it???). Maybe my super power should be the gift of being very unfunny? Not funny? Funnily challenged? Sexy? Whatever, I guess they are all the same thing!
Anyhoo, if a pic together on social media is supposed to tell who we are (or aren't?) as a couple, what does a pic of just ourself say? I've got friends that literally probably post a "selfie" everyday. Does that mean they are narcissistic? Sure they spice it up by including exciting things like them eating toast, breathing, or rejecting my Candy Crush advances, but almost every day there is a new selfie. If you think your friends are narcissistic, does that make them so? Personally, I don't do the daily selfie (I am still trying to master the nose-hair filter) but I make sure that I flex in every photo that I do take. My secret goal is to have someone ask me, "Have you been doing buns of steel?" Sigh…Someday.
Do the photo's we allow of ourself on social media say anything about us? We don't want the bad ones on their right? 107% of mine are bad ones. If that is the case, maybe that is who I am. What about the people that gain or lose a ton of weight.
This is me:
This is another version of me (please note the gratuitous use of a recent “after” pic from a weight loss contest):
Is beauty really just skin deep? Don’t worry, I am not kidding myself that I am beautiful, but what if we go deeper? I had someone ask me on Facebook last week, “Were you this funny in high school?” I replied with some quip that I am sure was just hilarious, but when I think about her question, my serious answer probably would have to be, “No.” I was usually too busy trying to impress others to just be myself. Now, in my ripe old age of 73, I really just care what people think. Or maybe that is what I want you to think, I don’t know. I know that I’m being judged almost all the time. I think we all are… which is sad. But are WE being judged or are people judging their perception of us?
Take me for example: To the non-religious, I am too religious. To the religious, I am too much of a heathen (the fact that I said “boobs” in this post is proof enough). To the bald or follicle challenged, I have cornrows that they would kill for (unfortunately they just happen to be on my back). The intelligent make up imaginary words about me (like I am going to buy that “halitosis” is a real word). Fish love me and women fear me. To women that I know I’ll never actually meet in person, I give them a description of myself that matches Brad Pitt… unfortunately as he was as in freakish baby form in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
What about even deeper than that? What could be deeper than our relationships, our appearance, our personalities… I’ll give you a clue: James Brown. I know that to some people the extent of, or belief in, our soul stops right there. But are we just this flesh and bones that we are walking around in? Hmmm… let’s pretend that you are in a terrible accident tomorrow and the lower half of your body is crushed. The doctors have no choice but to amputate. You now have half of your physical body, but are you half the person? No. We are not our bodies. Your very essence, or your soul, would not be halved or even damaged.
What do people smarter than me say about the soul?
Inside us there is something that has no name, that something is what we are. Jose Saramago
Laughter is the sound of the soul dancing. My soul probably looks like Fred Astaire. Jarod Kintz
Whatever satisfies the soul is truth. Walt Whitman
And finally, getting back to the original Facebook article about how people put out false perceptions of themselves to look more beautiful, happier, more exciting: Beauty is the illumination of your soul. John O’Donohue
So don’t worry about how others appear on social media (unless you ever see a pic of me in which case please feel free to inquire about my Buns of Steel). What about you though? Is your soul illuminated? Not on Facebook or some other social media, but in real life. Who are you? No… really?