I have a magic button on my phone. This button has the special power to make me feel both happy and sad. Even though I hate it, I still keep on pushing that button.
That button, of course, is Facebook. While I’m waiting in line, or laying on my bed, or on the train, I pull out my phone. Without thinking, my finger gravitates to the Facebook app. Immediately, I am flooded with news from people around the world.
Some of that news brings me joy. Oh my gosh, they’re finally engaged! Yay, she’s having a baby! Woo-hoo, he graduated! When I read this news, I get to celebrate with another person’s joy.
Other news gets me down. Geez, she’s really having a hard time with school. Wow, I didn’t know his dad had cancer. Oh no, she lost her job. When I read this news, I get to share in another person’s tragedy.
But I notice something strange. Sometimes, I read someone’s news or see their pictures about some amazing experience they are having. “Look! I’m in Hawaii! Look! I’m at a party! Look! I have abs! Look!!!” And I feel worse about myself. I start to compare myself to those in my news feed. I’m not in Hawaii. I’m not at a party. I don’t have visible abs. The more I look at other people’s lives, the worse I feel about my own.
The truth is, I have a good life. I have a family that loves me. I have a new job. I have a great education that opens up a lot of doors. I mean, I even have my health, which I know isn’t true for everyone.
If I curated my life on Instagram, it would look pretty great. But of course, my life isn’t always great; there is no filter or hashtag to cover up the painful parts. There’s my body-image issues, and my struggles with my weight and acne. There’s the aimlessness I felt after college, as I tried to figure out my career. There’s my frustration of trying to find a job as a public interest attorney. #blessedbutlifeisstilltough
The best I can do is to stop obsessing over other people’s lives and focus on my own. I’m making steps to stop pushing that button on my phone. As a practical matter, I’ve installed Metal on my phone, which has a floating notification bar that lets me see Facebook notifications and messages, but doesn’t take me to the newsfeed. This way, I can check if anything needs my attention, without subjecting myself to a bombardment of unnecessary information. I also need to remember that for every picture, the person taking it curated that moment to show life in a particular light. There really is no #nofilter.
There’s plenty of life out there to live. I want to stop wasting time looking at someone else’s experience, and start living my own. Don’t worry, I will keep writing here and sharing about what I experience. Hopefully, my words encourage you to experience life for yourself, too!