Photos: Instagram
Photos: Instagram

BREATHING SPACE

Why you should stop listening to your peers

Social media was meant to be about sharing but instead it's about showing off. It's time to stop staring at other people's lives

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By Marisa Bate on

#inlovewithmylife was the moment I’d had enough. Scrolling through Facebook, someone who I used to know flooded my morning with pictures of her baby, her handsome husband and her seemingly perfect life. 

My response was twofold. Firstly: URGH. Who does that? Who needs to do that? Why are we so desperate to prove to each other that everything is perfect when we all know damn well nothing ever is? And then, the creeping, quiet, destructive thought: why aren’t I #inlovewithmylife?

“Because you’re not a dick” was one friend’s response when I put the same question to her. But that’s sort of not the point. We’re all screaming  so loudly about how happy we are, I just can’t believe we are that happy at all. 

I am categorically happiest when I’m not online, because that means I’m caught up in something else and something better than an internet page dedicated to myself

I am categorically happiest when I’m not online, because that means I’m caught up in something else and something better than an internet page dedicated to myself. I’m talking to friends, I’m engrossed in Last Chance U. I’m reading Gary Younge. I’m sorting out my wardrobe. I’m swimming. I’m eating. I’m on the phone to my mum. I’m living. I’m doing something. Something that isn’t about PR-ing how fun and interesting and cool I am. 

And because I know that about myself, I can’t help but wonder why on #datenight couples get out phones and take pictures of each other. Who are they for? Why? Isn’t #datenight for two, not 3,000 strangers on Instagram? Why on earth do couples go on holiday and upload 90-plus pictures to the internet? I don’t understand. What are they trying to prove? 

And the problem is the baffling actions of others inevitably have an affect on us all. So, again, Stage 1: URGH – someone’s posted 90 photos of themselves and their boyfriend on a beach. Why do I care if you stayed in luxury accommodation and drunk wine at sunset overlooking an infinity pool that overlooked the turquoise ocean? And then it starts: why hasn’t my boyfriend taken me to luxury accommodation with the bluest water and plastered my face over Facebook? 

The strange thing, of course, is that I would be mortified if he did (the Facebook bit, not the dreamy holiday. He can knock himself out over that one). But still, those pangs hit me. What’s wrong with my relationship? We don’t take selfies. Are we doomed? 

And so this nonsensical, dangerous and pointless train of thought begins. And it’s not just relationships. It’s work too. Stage 1: URGH. Which smug twat retweets that kind of praise? Followed by: why has no one said that about me?

And all of a sudden I’m this bitter, hateful and deeply insecure individual who is questioning everything I’ve ever said and done and questioning if I should even bother leaving the house in the morning because I’m not on a #datenight or #inlovewithmylife.

I’ve recently learnt that among recovering addicts, peer-to-peer support is the most effective recovery treatment by a million miles. Well, take it from me, this is not the case for when you have bitter, angry, people-on-Facebook-need-to-pipe-down syndrome. 

My rationale tells me that those who flog their lives like a holiday brochure probably are convincing themselves as much as they are convincing me. And so my rationale also tells me to stop flicking through the bloody brochure. 

And so I’m stepping back. I’m ignoring pretty much everyone else. I don’t know about #inlovewithmylife but I’m pretty keen on #gettingonwithmylife

@marisajbate

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Breathing Space

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