Dear Dating Coach,
Everyone I know is engaged, getting engaged, or newly adorably married. They post pictures of their recently married cloud nine selves, gorgeous sunset proposals, and sneak peeks of pretty dates. Their social media accounts are full of excitement and fun and I can’t seem to stop following their perfect lives while mine remains stagnant! I am not dating, have no one on the horizon, while everyone else is insta-ready. Why does everyone in my life have everything going for them while I can’t even get a date!? Please help me out of this funk.
It feels like almost everyone I know is on social media, lobbying for followers and likes. Everything they do seems to be post-worthy and everything they write is either deeply thought-provoking or totally adorable (#sodeepsocute!) Now, admittedly, some are less creative, posting pictures of sous vide quinoa dinners or the neighbor’s baby sleeping. Even those posts however, seem to elicit emotion from adoring fans with a range of responses and comments. Some may say “Way to eat healthy girl!” or “Perfect Precious Princess Penina.” While others emboldened by their computer’s cloak of invisibility will shatter souls with “Quinoa kills” and “Creepy baby stalker!” For these Instagrammers, their followers can be both desperately encouraging and absolutely terrifying.
Does A Life…
Some have created empires based on their social media success with thousands and even millions of people tuning in to see what they are wearing (pajamas), eating (green smoothie), and thinking (filter or no filter?). These influencers have inspired entrepreneurial Instagrammers around the globe to hop on the picture (gravy) train to stardom and fabulocity. Some post about their sanitized lives of perfect marriages, well-behaved children, and healthy and nutritious dinners.
While followers never know if what they are reading is true, they are still inspired to “cook like,” “look like,” and “achieve like” the social media “stars” they follow. Beyond the idealistic lens of TikTok and the like however, their marriages may be struggling, their children may live life in “time-out” chairs, and they may subsist on day-old takeout. Others post gorgeous faces, perfectly made-up and exercise selfies to attract the interest of nutrition companies and beauty products. Followers of course need not take into account the hours spent on all of that perfection and the clever poses and lightning needed to get that money shot-#effortless!
Unposted in the ‘Forest…’
How ironic that authenticity seems to be the buzz word of today. People are encouraged to bare who they really are and to showcase their “flaws” in order to project their “truth.” This inspired “authentic” (read: enterprising) social media personalities, and your neighbor, to post unfiltered pictures of themselves, baring microscopic hints of cellulite on make-up free Mondays. Sadly, the film of inauthenticity still pervades in the desperate race to attract “likes” simply for being one’s self.
The desperate need for followers and the desire to receive feedback, good or bad, certainly propels creativity and ingenuity. It also invites people to shame and diminish you. We are real people, with real feelings, who may experience exciting highs and painful lows. Must we always ask the public what they think? Does their opinion determine if what we are feeling is right or wrong?
Not Make Sound?
There will always be what I call the “medicine cabinet discovery.” A natural curiosity about the private lives that others lead. But perhaps we have now gone to far. We seem to feel entitled to know the private details of everyone’s life. We have become voyeurs to their success and to their shame. This propels people to post their most casual interactions to their deepest secrets in the hope of attracting likes. Pictures of children are open to discussion and marriages become public fodder, making us lose our innate sense of privacy. We have become so embroiled in our own “fame” that we believe that what we ate, what we wore, and where we were, has become information the public must know.
I understand the power of social media. It can build businesses and spread messages of hope and support. Beyond that however, I encourage you to cling to your sense of privacy and think about discretion. Look inward and focus on your goals and true self-worth and you may realize that you have more going for yourself than you think.