A little while ago I got sucked up into a huge panic about having not sorted my life out to the point where I can put my slippers on and kick back for the next 50 years. I’m 24 and I haven’t bought a house, got married, made a fortune or had any kids yet. DISASTER. Of course this is ridiculous. I definitely shouldn’t be having a mental breakdown over things that friends much older than me are just sorting out or deciding to invest in. I know others the same age or younger who have done one or more of the above stress hit list, but everyone is different. I don’t need to hassle my boyfriend into fixing life immediately just to keep up with people I don’t speak to or who I knew because I worked with them for six months about four years ago. My life is going fine and I have a sort of plan, which is pretty much achievable, which for now is good enough. I enjoyed my weekend of sleeping, eating, resentfully doing washing and dancing a hole in the floor at a Groove Armada DJ far too much to start crying over mortgages I don’t have and puppies I don’t own.
Of course the whole reason for thinking life is failing and the world as I know it will surely end soon is from looking at social media. Staring at Facebook and watching people planning weddings and posting updates about how their second child has just used a potty for the first time in the house they’ve just moved into started messing with my head. Not just my head in fact, as I know plenty of other stressed twenty-something people who fear being left out or are in a hurry to DO EVERYTHING NOW. I know a lot of people of all ages who feel the same actually. There are times when I look through Twitter feeds and Facebook posts and think, God, please stop distressing my friends and everyone my age and even people older or much younger. Just stop it. Of course that won’t happen. We love to share, post, Instagram, tweet, snapchat and whatsapp. We’re addicted. I mean, I will definitely be sharing this on all forms of social media because it’s 2014 and that’s life.
It’s not healthy to use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to compare your life to everyone else’s and I think we are mostly aware of that, but still do it anyway. I will probably always do it. Some people do use social media to try and put across an image of an amazing life where everything is perfect and they’re living the absolute dream. I imagine they do post things because they want to impress their friends and followers and strangers they’ve never met, or maybe they’ve just become so used to sharing their life, they just do it on auto-pilot. It’s all good and well, and I do enjoy looking through other people’s business and what they did at the weekend and who with, but I sometimes worry about it too. I’m definitely not as stressed and worry less than others I know and am close to. I sometimes hope they aren’t getting too distressed by what they see and it doesn’t make things worse. It’s a culture of sharing and a culture of indulging in knowing everything about everyone that is just as much fear-inducing as it is fascinating.
Everyone is working towards a different goal. What you see filtered on Instagram or plastered all over Facebook is probably a much exaggerated version of what’s really happening. You have to take it with a pinch of salt. What’s the point of competing with your friends who you love and will happily curl up with or drink yourself into a dancing, shouting, night bus resenting stupor with?
Some people do use social media for work, or to advertise work or just as a general way to keep their friends and family up to speed with what’s going on. I do the same, I post stupid pictures that I think are funny, Instagram nice looking beaches or dogs, and tweet about hangovers or how much I hate the District Line. I travel quite a bit so I’m always spamming the internet with photos of views from planes or boats or nice looking buildings, so I’m just as bad as everyone else I expect. What would be really nice though, is if all this posting and sharing stopped causing people to feel inadequate, behind, lost, fat, too skinny, anxious or left out. It’s probably a much bigger battle than just voicing it and urging people to put the claws away. We all love a good nose, and when everyone is in the room in a virtual sense, it’s just so easy to show everyone what you’re up to.
It is however, absolutely vital not to let it get on top of you. Life happens to everyone at a different speed and you get smacked in the face by different problems to your best friend or siblings, but let’s just remember that social media is an online, visual, over-sharing system made of wires and like, scientific technological stuff and lives in iPhones and on laptops, and real life is offline, where the people are real, emotions are real feelings are felt. It doesn’t matter if your friends are uploading photos of their amazing, life changing holiday or a new house, just enjoy being nosey and don’t worry that you’ll never have as much as them, because, at the end of the day, (or Facebook status) you aren’t them.