Looking Up, In, Out

This video has been shared by lots of people on Facebook today, mainly with very positive reactions, and I found it very thought-provoking.


Ultimately it is a piece that is saying we spend too much time interacting on social media and miss out on real interactions too often.
Obviously the fact that most of us have seen the video through Facebook and now I’m writing about it on a blog puts us on something of a sticky wicket if we’re planning to have a rant about social media. But I’m not planning that.

The video makes its own point about social media, but it did get me thinking about how authentic the images we have of peoples lives are.
I guess many of us are guilty of at some point or other looking at somebody else and feeling envious about some element of their lives. But how much do we ever really know about somebody else?
Facebook for example is swimming in photos of smiley happy faces and people having good times, and you could be forgiven for thinking those smiley happy people lead perfect charmed lives.
But few of us ever post the bad stuff – the argument we had with someone, that thing the other-half did that really annoyed us, the negative messages we tell ourselves when we look in the mirror, our fears, insecurities and worries.

Someone once said something similar to me about family albums, several years ago and long before Facebook. They pointed out that family photo albums are full of pictures of people smiling and looking happy, even if ten minutes before there’d been a row, or the kids had been shouted at.
They said that soon as a camera is out, we all smile on cue, creating a visual history that doesn’t really reflect the truth of just living.
I’d never really thought about photos that way before. But now that we all have so much more access to those family albums thanks to social media and our cameras and phones mean we can retake the photo over and over until we’re happy with it, how truly authentic is anything we see?

I can’t remember where I read it first, but I always try to remember now the phrase “don’t judge your insides by somebody else’s outsides”.
It’s really simple, but it reminds me that it is easy to look at someone else’s life and make assumptions based on the bits of it they let you see, but of course you never really know what keeps them awake at night.
I wonder how much nicer people would treat each other if we all remembered that most of us are carrying some kind of pain or sadness or fear that we keep well hidden?

So, whilst the debate about the video’s social media commentary vs its posting on social media isn’t one I want to get into, I am grateful for the reminder it has given me that we only ever see what other people choose to allow us to see, and that it is rarely the full picture.

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