A few weeks ago I bumped into a friend I had not seen for a while. During our conversation, she told me something that got me thinking about how we interact with one another especially on social media. I often share on social media but rarely get to find out how my posts affect those who read or view them.
The first thing my friend said to me was, ‘you really helped me!’
I couldn’t recall anything I had done for her in the recent past so I asked her what she was referring to. She explained how she had nearly given up on her University studies until she read my post on Facebook. In my post, I had shared about how I had overcome my own discouragement and failure to graduate from my MA. She told me that my post renewed her confidence and belief that she could complete her course and graduate.
I was touched to hear that my moment of vulnerability on social media had resulted in another person’s encouragement and maybe more.
While pondering on this I thought about how a quick click of the mouse can potentially change someones day or life. This inadvertently places a great responsibility on us who use social media.
The big BUT is – can we really afford to be real on social media?
Being real takes courage
As you will know it takes courage to talk about your failure or struggle to our friends leave alone sharing on a social platform. To be honest, at the time of writing that post on Facebook I contemplated deleting it a few times knowing that I was putting myself in a vulnerable position.
It would have been easier and more impressive if I had just shared news about my graduation. It would have no doubt made me look good – a mum and wife able to juggle all and still succeed academically.
Was it really necessary to talk about my struggle?
After listening to my friend and seeing what my post meant to her I can now say I’m glad I shared my real story.
We are sharing our lives more than ever before through social media yet this doesn’t mean that we are truly and honestly sharing our lives. There is a temptation to present only what we want other people to see.
I write this partly because I am one of those who ‘wear their heart on their sleeve’ so to speak. I often find myself wondering how much is too much when sharing on social media. Is it a platform to say hey look at me I’m doing great or somewhere we can be honest with one another and change a life in the process?
I feel like we are all waving our flags at the top of Everest but no one dares talk about how they got there – the frostbite or how many times they tried and failed to get to the top. I’m not trying to say that there is anything wrong with sharing our amazing lives with friends and acquaintances on social media. After all, there is already enough gloom in the world, it’s refreshing to see beautiful photos and read about our friends’ beautiful lives.
The problem is when we become conditioned to believe that only the polished version of us is acceptable. We know that life is not just about happiness and success we all face one challenge or another. Scrolling down on social media you may find yourself wondering why your life seems so plain while other people’s lives are so bright and colorful. This may be so much so that you think something is wrong with you.
What makes this whole perfection idea all the more ironic is the state of our world today. We only need to look around us or to see the many issues facing us. The irony is that despite all the social media platforms we are not fully engaging with these important issues. For example, we have not broken the silence around certain topics such as mental health despite our many social interactions.
The reason I believe in being real is personal for me. Several years ago my family went through a very difficult experience. This is part of the reason I decided to start writing a blog. I remember the awful feeling of being alone even when surrounded by loving friends. I guess deep within me I needed to know that we were not the only ones ever to go through something so horrible. During this time I drew so much strength and hope from reading or listening to people who shared about similar experiences.
By being honest and open about their own experiences allowed their vulnerability to become another person’s strength. I truly believe that this made it easier to deal with my own difficulty. I will write about this experience in more detail at a later date.
Although I have always shared my heart honestly and openly until then I didn’t realise how important it is. If you have been through difficult times you will know that it can feel like you are the only person in the world going through it.
I am sure we have been touched in one way or another by someone’s real story. I’m not trying to say that we should share all our problems on social media but we can at least be honest when we decide to share.
By keeping it real and wearing our heart on sleeve a bit more could lead to some real conversations and we may also help someone along the way.
Someone out there is depending on you Being Real.
Have you tried keeping it real or have you been helped by someone’s story? Share in the comment box.
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