No one on the Internet is living the life you think they are.
This is a good thing.
Social media and really anything digital is setup to be a near-constant stream of editorialized data. That means, we pick which bits and bytes we share. In doing so, we’re only showing a curated view of ourselves with the world. Yes, that editorial can be honest and real, but it’s only a piece of our lives.
In seeing this, we assume everyone is smarter, more successful, more interesting and so much happier than we are.
I only tweet or gram (Is that a word? Kids these days!) when I have something interesting, funny or of value to share. In reality, 99% of my day is filled with non-interesting, non-funny stuff.
I know this about myself yet when I go online and read or see other people’s stuff, I assume they’re different, and somehow, their lives are awesome and interesting all of the time. That’s because all I see are their interesting bits and bytes.
My days typically involve: watering my veggies and herbs, cleaning rat poop, cleaning my house and yard, staring out my window instead of writing or designing, sitting on my couch reading, refreshing social (with my wife sitting beside me, doing the same), and so many other absolutely mundane things that aren’t worth mentioning (except in this specific instance).
Looking through my own social feeds though, it’s all wonderful gardens, hiking in nature, photos of my awesome dining table or my rats doing something funny. Sure, I do all those things, but I’m not constantly doing things worth mentioning.
What I share online only represents a tiny portion of my life. Sure, I live a pretty decent life, and really don’t have anything tocomplain about, but still — it’s not nearly as interesting as a lot of folks assume. And conversely, I’m sure a lot of folks I assume have an amazingly awesome, super interesting life are exactly the same.
Sometimes I’m too stressed out to post or write anything. Or, I’m too upset at something to say anything of value/interest. Or, I’m so slammed with work I ignore my health and sit at my computer for 14 hours a day like an dumdum.
Since most of my income comes from doing new and untried things, I worry about that a lot too — which doesn’t make for a great photo or 140 character message. I worry about the future and a million other things regularly and it can be temporarily paralyzing.
So why am I telling you all this?
I just want to illustrate that no one is living a perfect life. I’m not, you’re not, no one is. And that’s totally ok! Everyone’s got their own ups and downs. Everyone’s life is filled with fuck-ups, mistakes, disasters but also amazing beauty. The bad stuff, the boring stuff, the stuff not worth mentioning, makes us value and hold precious the bits and bytes that are worth experiencing and sharing.
Choose to be good with your life without comparing it to anyone else’s — which is hard, but necessary. It’s never apples toapples. Since you’re never seeing their whole story, it’s more like apples to elephants.
This article first appeared on Paul’s weekly newsletter called The Sunday Dispatches.