Sarah and I just got done recording a Best of Both Worlds episode on the “compare and despair” phenomenon that social media seems to engender. I have been thinking about this topic a lot lately, especially after Sarah posted about trade-offs, and which ones we see and don’t.
I have a great life. And yet certain social media posts still get at me. It’s not about cars or homes — I’m perfectly happy there, so these don’t inspire much jealousy on my part. Instead, it’s people waxing eloquent about their relaxing and wonderful family vacations, or those large family pictures where the kids are all in matching lovely clothes and the mom looks polished and put together. A close runner up is anyone talking about the long retreat they took to write their book next to a babbling stream.
I know plenty of this is unreal. Who is taking those family photos of the whole family? This is not setting your iPhone up on a tripod. It’s clearly a commercial enterprise, and those “relaxing” family vacations were paid for and arranged, in full, by the hotel/resort/amusement park sponsoring the post.
That said, I think it’s wise to recognize these exact triggers because they often tell us something about our lives and what we might want to change. In my case, the existence of the toddler means that relaxation is hard to find — on vacation or any other time. But not impossible. I’ve set up a few hours of weekend childcare for the baby over the next few weeks so time will feel less frantic. I suppose if I wanted to hire a stylist and a photographer to follow me around so my family scenes looked more polished I could do so. I probably don’t care enough to make that happen, but I could invest a bit more in my appearance (hello coming out of Covid into the real world again…). And I’m analyzing my time to make sure I have more uninterrupted writing stretches. I have removed myself from the camp runs today for instance. It’s not weeks of solitude along a babbling brook, but I’d probably get tired of that pretty quick.
What sorts of posts most send you into these musings? I’ve pondered pruning my feed down to only people I know in real life and dollhouse furniture accounts, but on the other hand, the matching outfits are pretty cute…
Photo: A relaxing vacation drink, though abandoned about halfway through when something or another happened